The Right Attitude when communicating with people from other cultures
10:48:57 2024-02-25 299

1- Learn about the culture beforehand. A little knowledge can go a long way. If you have time before embarking on a trip or meeting with someone from another culture, try to take time to learn the basic “do’s and dont’s” of that culture. You can find information on this from internet sources such as those provided by the National Center for Cultural Competence.

2- Expect differences. Different cultures will speak at different volumes, be more or less direct in showing emotion, may or may not expect to engage in “small talk,” and exhibit other dissimilarities in communication. When communicating with people from other cultures, be prepared to encounter such differences, including ones that you were not aware of.


3- Understand hierarchies. When communicating with a different culture, there may be unwritten rules about social hierarchy that you are not used to. For instance, you may come from a culture where men and women are expected to communicate equally with each other but may have to interact with someone from a culture where men may do more talking in mixed company. Similarly, you may be communicating with someone who expects that a younger person should let an older person do most of the talking, while you expect people across age groups to communicate equally.

4- Be upfront about difficulties in communication. If you could not understand someone or think that he or she did not understand you, say something about it. Avoid being rude or offensive, but patiently explain the problem. It’s usually better to be upfront than to let a problem in communication go undressed, since there may otherwise be bigger problems later.

  • If you think you did not understand what someone meant, try saying something like: “I’m not sure I understood you. Could we go over that again?”
  • If you think that someone did not understand you, try saying something like: “Let’s review things to make sure we’re all on the same page.” You can also make sure to let the person know to ask questions.

5- Be respectful and tolerant. Each culture has its own set of dominant values, beliefs, and prejudices. Signs of these may emerge when communicating with people from other cultures. Basic communication, however, it is not the time to judge people based on these differences. Instead, respect them for what they are, and tolerate them. You may even learn something new.

  • Even if cultural differences come up explicitly in conversation, be tolerant and open-minded instead of argumentative. For instance, if you are American and someone comments on Americans’ tendency to be work-focused, say something like: “Yes, it’s true that many Americans take work seriously, and there are a lot of reasons for that. Why don’t you tell me some more about how your culture thinks about work?”

6- Be patient. Communicating with people from other cultures can be enlightening and rewarding, but also have its difficulties. Expect that not everything will come out quite right or be fully understood. Be patient with others, and ask them to be patient with you.

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