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Safe Space Report

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  • Pages: 7
  • Word count: 1664
  • Category: Culture

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The purpose of this report is to determine whether or not the environment within an episode of the television series “The Big Bang Theory” is considered a safe space. Understanding the connection between cultural capabilities with the ability to function effectively in a cross cultural community will determine if individuals within the series have cultural intelligence. In order for this to be achieved everyone must possess a certain amount cultural self-awareness (Matsumoto 2007).

Awareness and acceptance of cultural differences and an understanding of one’s own cultural values, knowledge and experiences makes a person feel empathy for other cultures. Recognising that people from different cultures may have different way of communicating, behaving, interpreting and problem solving helps to accept the cultural differences by having the ability to adapt to the situation, enabling people to interact in a safe and happy environment (De Long 1997).


The space consists of four characters Leonard Hofstadter, Sheldon Cooper, Howard Wolowitz and Rajesh Koothrappali; they all appear to be friends. The scene is located in a building apartment. The atmosphere appears to be comfortable and everyone, apart from one of the friends is seemingly happy. Sheldon Cooper is complaining about the sandwich. “Turkey and roast beef with swiss and lettuce on whole-wheat. It’s the right ingredients but in the wrong order. In a proper sandwich the cheese is adjacent to the bread to create a moisture barrier against the lettuce. They might as well have dragged this thing through a car wash” The Big Bang Theory (2008).

Sheldon then puts his sandwich down with some force; he has the attention of both Cal and Rajesh. The tone of the voice remains the same and there is no personal contact. Leonard, Cal and Rajesh do not react to Sheldon’s behaviour and there are no obvious signs of any physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual harm.

Leonard and Sheldon are physicists, colleagues, best friends and roommates. Their friendships along with all the other members appears to be tested primarily by Sheldon’s behaviour, as they did not react surprised or alarmed by the current situation suggests that they have experienced Sheldon’s behaviour before. Because of Sheldon’s strict attention to routine and total lack of social skills may indicate that he has Asperger’s syndrome, or possibly a compulsive personality disorder. However the series does not state that Sheldon has been diagnosed with either. His friends demonstrate that they are cultural intelligent by tolerating his behaviour, making the situation manageable. LITERATURE:

In the Neville and Wilson report (2009) cultural safety first requires people to reflect upon their own values, beliefs, and practices and how these may impact upon other cultural societies. Acknowledging that your views may impact on their personal ideals, while being mindful not to impose personal views on others, is a culturally safety requirement.

To determining if the environment is culturally safe their needs to be evidence of any physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual harm (Holly. et al. 2005). Observing the atmospheres, body language and the verbal communication between the people involved, whilst also having an understanding that a safe space does not necessarily means that everybody is confortable and can often be challenging (Holly, et al. 2005).

Safe space does not remove conflict; it does however regulate the environment, therefore making the space more manageable this enables individuals within the group to communicate their ideas even if it is does not reflect the same views as the other members of the group (Holly, et al. 2005).

Cultural safety acknowledges and embraces the unique cultural backgrounds of individuals. It means providing opportunities for people to express their ideas and beliefs and have their cultural needs met. When people feel culturally safe they should feel freedom from fear, anxiety, as being accepted and included. Being able to accept all people from cultures different to our own does not only refer to people linguistic background, it also includes people who are from a different gender, sexuality, age and ability.

To determining if the environment is culturally safe their needs to be evidence of any physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual harm (Holly et al. 2005). Observing the atmospheres, body language and the verbal communication between the people involved, whilst also having an understanding that a safe space does not necessarily means that everybody is confortable and can often be challenging (Holly et al. 2005). OBSERVATION OF THE BIG BANG EPISODE:

The atmosphere appears to be friendly as they are eating and communicating in an acceptable manner, Sheldon’s behaviour does not provoke any argument or disharmony as there is no evidence of physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual harm (Holly. et al. 2005).Therefore making the environment a space safe. The friends seem have the ability of suspending judgment, therefore not only postponing the judgment but also preventing the situation deteriorating, demonstrating cultural intelligence (Brislin et.al 2006).

“Cross-cultural interactions are emotional processes as they involve a considerable amount of uncertainty and a potential for misunderstanding” (Ozelick, Paprikia 2010). Effective cultural communication assists in building relationships and prevents misunderstanding occurring ensuring that people can communicate in a culturally safe environment.

The friends have most likely come to the realisation that this is normal behaviour for Sheldon, so they are able regulate the situation, as it is not worth arguing over something as trivial as a sandwich, culturally intelligence involves a set of abilities and skills that allow us to “get along with” and relate to the people around us (Brislin et.al 2006).


Three friends are sitting on the couch (Rajesh, Sheldon and Howard), eating and drinking. Leonard is in on the internet within the same space. Sheldon gets everybody’s attention when he starts to complain about his sandwich, Rajesh enquires about the sandwich in a casual manner to which Sheldon replies “It’s the right ingredients but in the wrong order” The Big Bang Theory (2008). Rajesh is more considerate towards Sheldon than Howard enquiring in regards to his grievance; however, after which the two friends’ sit and observe with their mouths open as if in disbelief to what he is verbally communicating. This action demonstrates cultural judgement however without actually saying anything ensures that the situation does will not escalate into an unsafe or an accusing environment. Sheldon however is completely oblivious to their body language and continues as nothing happened, indicating that this maybe normal behaviour for Sheldon. Even dislikes many of Sheldon’s antics, but he has grown accustomed to them. Leonard changes the subject, therefore changing the current topic.

The friends appear to be extremely intelligent, but socially awkward therefore giving them a “nerd like” image (as the heading, The Nerdvana Annihilation implies); perhaps being social outcasts has brought the young men together, and made them more tolerant towards each other’s personal flaws. Friends that live in a community together base their relationships on what they have in common, and the means of sharing those things are through the acts of communication. In order to form a group within society in order to develop relationship’s, it is crucial to have common goals, beliefs, aspirations, knowledge, and a common understanding (Flanja 2009).

The atmosphere appears to be relaxed and casual; there is no sign of tension and no evidence of any physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual harm. Communication channel’s flow freely indicating that there is mutual respect, allowing individuals to cope with a variety of life issues, including cross-cultural interaction which results in open-mindedness, flexibility, and cultural empathy (Yakunina. et.al 2012).


The principle of cultural capabilities is to recognise and to accept differences between people and being capable of seeing the differences in positive manner, by having our own self cultural awareness and to develop cultural intelligence.

•A safe space is atmosphere that is created for everybody, and that everybody is included.
•Acknowledging the presence of culturally diverse people
•Requires a collective action
•An environment where the benefits outweigh the risks

In order for a culturally safe space, there must always be room for improvement, and a willingness to learn from each other’s mistakes, demonstrating empathy and using effective communication will result in developing strong relationships, here are a few strategies to assist with maintaining a culturally safe space

•Appreciate and value differences between people.
•Acknowledge every person with equal respect.
•Recognise that everybody adds value to the group, through their unique perspective.
•Ensuring the environment remains free of insensitive remarks, and that the space is free of all bullying and harassment.

Remaining culturally capable, there must be the ability and the willingness to respond to the unique needs of each individual that may arise from their culture.


Brislin, B, Worthley, R & McNab, B 2006, ‘Cultural intelligence: Understanding behaviour that serves peoples goals, ‘ Group & Organization Management vol. 3, no.1, pp. 40-55, viewed 16 October 2012, via Sage journals online De Long, D 1997,’Building the knowledge based organization: how culture drives knowledge as behaviour, Ernes & Young pp.1285 -1300, viewed July 2012 via CDU Learn line. Holly, L, Steiner, S 2005, ‘Safe space: student perspective on classroom environment, ‘journal of social work education, vol. 41,no. 1, pp. 41-62, viewed 12 October 2012, via JSWE Matsumoto,D 2007,’Culture context and behaviour,’ Journal of Personality vol. 75 no 6 pp. 1285-1300, viewed July 2012 via CDU Learn line. Ozelick, H, Paprikia, Z, ‘2010, ‘Developing Emotional Awareness in Cross-Cultural Communication: A Videoconferencing Approach, Journal of Management Education, vol. 34, no. 5, pp. 671-699, viewed 17 October 2012, via sage Journals Online. The Nerdvana Annihilation: The big bang theory, 2008, Television Program, Channel nine, 11 October Wilson, D. & Neville, S. 2009, “Culturally safe research with vulnerable populations”, Contemporary nurse, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 69-79 Yakunina, E, Welgold, L, Welgold, Herecgovac, S & Elasyed, N 2012, ‘International journal of intercultural relations, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 529-552, viewed 19 October 2012, via SciVerse

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