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The DAE Culture Model

April 4th, 2016

Traveling in other countries can be thrilling, educational, and relaxing. Meeting people from other parts of the world is an invaluable cultural experience that is enhanced by our curiosity of one another as humans. Sometimes when we travel, we stumble upon unfamiliar scenarios that can be uncomfortable. When we enter into an unfamiliar situation, we find ourselves quickly judging our surroundings compared to our native land and comfortable environment. This practice, however, can lead to destructive interactions with people who are native to the countries we visit. We should consider how it would feel, or how it does feel, when people from other countries visit our country and judge us too quickly. As an American, I know that we have cultural norms that may be alarming to people from other countries or some common practices that may seem rude and insensitive comparatively. Not only internationally, but also domestically, there are misunderstandings between people that could be avoided if more analysis were applied to the situation. A scenario is given below to help you understand the types of situations that people encounter frequently. However, there are ways to avoid jumping to conclusions about other people and cultures when we find ourselves in uncomfortable or unfamiliar situations.

One researched method to help us avoid jumping to conclusions about our surroundings, especially in unfamiliar circumstances, is called the DAE model. The D stands for Describe, A for Analyze, and E for Evaluate. This entails a three-step process in which a person can observe his/her surroundings, consider the context, and then make a judgment or take action based on his/her findings.

Scenario: Let’s imagine that you are at a restaurant and your server is a woman. Throughout your meal, you notice that she is not very friendly to you as a customer at the restaurant and seems to be distracted mentally. She even makes a mistake on one of your orders and she doesn’t bring your food or drink to you very quickly. You’re frustrated by the slow and inaccurate service, so you leave her a $1 tip and leave the restaurant.

In this scenario, the customer and the server are both unhappy. The customer is unhappy because the food order was messed up and the service was slow. The server is unhappy because the customer only left her a $1 tip. This situation could have been made better by using the DAE model.

Describe: Take a moment to describe what the scene was like in the imaginary restaurant. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you notice? These are the common questions you ask during the Describe phase of DAE. So, let’s imagine there are many customers eating lunch at the same time as you. There are only two servers working to serve 10 tables. You look at your server and notice that she seems a little overweight and is walking with a limp. She seems distracted when she takes your order and brings the food to you slowly.

Analyze: During this phase, you ask questions like “What could be going on here? What am I missing? What possible explanations are there for my server’s bad performance? What meaning is behind the things I have observed?” Let’s imagine you notice one of your server’s coworkers talking to her and you hear this: “The due date is soon, isn’t it?” You know the phrase “due date” refers to pregnancy, so now you know that your server is pregnant. You also hear your server say, “It’s next month, and my foot hasn’t healed yet.” So now you know that not only is your server pregnant, but she has had some kind of injury to her foot that is making her perform her job slowly. As you ask yourself about the possible meanings of what you have observed, you consider that she is bringing the food slowly because she has an injured foot and that she may seem distracted due to feelings connected with pregnancy. You continue to try to notice things that you did not perceive before, and you notice that your server is not wearing a wedding ring, which means she may be a single mother soon.

Evaluate: This is the step in the DAE process in which you make your decision about what action you will take based on your findings. After what we have described and analyzed, I imagine that you understand now that leaving a pregnant, single mother a $1 tip is not a good decision just because she brought your food to you slowly.

The DAE model can be used in many daily circumstances to aid people in understanding one another better and being more compassionate towards one another. Remember, you need people to DAE you sometimes, too.