So what is culture, anyway? It’s more than just a word; it’s a term that defines the thousands of subgroups across the globe and what they stand for.

On paper, culture is the beliefs, customs, arts, and other objects of a particular society, group, or place. But it’s more than that, especially to those with a rich heritage and generations-long traditions. A group’s culture is not just about its beliefs, but includes its personality and aura.

To understand a different culture isn’t just to know its language or signature food dishes. It means to be entrenched in the behaviors, styles and, probably most important, emotion. Connecting with those important differentiators separates those who get “it” and those who don’t.

It’s about cultural adaptation, really, and how that works to bridge the gap between various groups and people. Learn more about cultural adaptation with CQ fluency’s eBook, which can be found here.

The phenomenon that is culture has been studied, analyzed, and dissected since the dawn of time. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, IBM’s Geert Hofstede launched a survey that would study the effects of a society’s culture on the values of its members, and how these values relate to behavior. The dimensions, which have been refined and expanded up on in the last 40 years, include metrics like power distance index; individualism vs collectivism; uncertainty avoidance index; masculinity vs. femininity; long-term orientation vs. short-term orientation; and indulgence vs. restraint.

Breaking down the minute details and differences between cultures is a painstaking task, showing the great challenges there are in recognizing just how historically rich each group is. While the evidence shows groups are much different from each other, it’s still difficult for outsiders to understand, making them generally unaware of other countries’ cultures and ultimately minimizing the cultural differences.

Don’t judge a book by its cover. The adage is often used to help children understand that there’s more than meets the eye, and the same goes for the differences in cultures across the globe.