In previous posts, I introduced the Do’s and Don’ts of Multicultural Communication. I offered tips, ideas and suggestions for improving your ability to communicate across cultural differences, and to reduce the possibility of offending others. My previous tips focused on the Don’ts – the behaviors you want to avoid at all costs. In my next few posts, I will describe 7 things you want to Do to improve multicultural communication. Here are the first 2:
1. DO demonstrate empathy in all of your interactions. Empathy is the ability to identify with and understand another person’s feelings, situation, ideas, values and desires. There are many ways to demonstrate empathy, but the best way is to listen first (our natural tendency is to speak first so you may have to work at this), to try and understand where your colleagues and co-workers are coming from (really try to understand their point of view), and to demonstrate your understanding on a consistent basis. You can effectively demonstrate your understanding by using active listening. Do this by paraphrasing what you hear your communication partner say to confirm you have received the message in the way it is intended.
2. DO be accepting of cultural differences. Always remember that acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean agreement. You can be totally accepting of a person while still disagreeing with their ideas or certain beliefs they hold. Acceptance refers to a willingness to support and validate your colleagues, to have positive regard for them, and to remain non-judgmental even in circumstances where you do not agree.
NEXT POST – October 1, 2008:
Culturally Competent Communication – Part 2