Globalization affects each of us. Whether you’ve recently moved to a new country, you’re sharing a dorm at college with an international student or you’re married someone from a different culture than your own, we all are in contact with people from all over the world.
Even when there is a common language, things can get lost in translation and conflict can arise. These five tips can help you to navigate communication and build stronger relationships:
1. Ask questions
At the beginning of a relationship it comes natural to ask questions. As we interact with one another we seek to understand where the other person is coming from and why they do what they do.
However, as time goes on we can assume that we understand the other person and that we know why they do what they do. In cross-cultural relationships it is particularly crucial that we continue to take a learner’s posture and continue to ask questions.
Values and beliefs that we have had since childhood can be difficult to spot and articulate and can come up at unexpected times. Asking questions will help you to maintain a humble posture.
2. Do your research
Each country contains a variety of different cultures each with their own customs, values and beliefs. Doing a quick online search can help you to identify any major do’s and don’ts in certain countries.
It can also be helpful to learn a few phrases in the other person’s mother tongue. Showing that you are invested in understanding the other person and that you respect where they are coming from can contribute to building a stronger foundation for communication.
3. Be Flexible
Cross-cultural communication can bring beauty and diversity, but you must be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. Compromising can allow for each party to share part of their culture and embrace something new. It may be a little uncomfortable to start out with, but it can lead to a beautiful discovery of something new.
There will be miscommunication. Things will not always go as planned. Accept that extra time, grace, and patience will be required. Learn to see the humor in the situation and learn to laugh it off.
Cross-cultural communication can be hard, but with the help from one of our counselors you can gain confidence as you seek to navigate diverse relationships! Consider scheduling with Kinga Gudor, Carly or Alexandria to begin this process today.