In my last post, I introduced the Do’s and Don’ts of Multicultural Communication, and described 3 things you should never do if you want to enhance communication in diverse settings and avoid offending others. Here are 2 more DON’TS:
1. DON’T assume a culturally different person is typical of all of the members of his or her cultural group. A common by-product of stereotyping (making generalizations or assumptions about the members of a particular group) is the tendency to think that the behavior of one group member is typical of all group members and to only see in those group members what we expect to see. We often do this unconsciously and it has the potential to create many communication problems. Therefore, always strive to treat people as individuals and to get to know your colleagues on an individual basis.
2. DON’T engage in behaviors that single out a culturally different person, especially if that person is in the minority at your workplace. This may seem obvious, but we often do this without realizing it. For instance, I have observed many situations where people who are cultural minorities within the workplace are asked to serve on a team or committee because of their race, gender or age. While it may be a great honor to be asked to serve, and it is certainly beneficial to have a diverse set of perspectives on any team, always be aware of the difficult position you can place someone in if you single them out.
NEXT POST – September 22, 2008:
How to Avoid Offending Others: Part 3