I realize that every time I use the phrase “cross-cultural communication,” I am making the subject sound much more difficult and boring than it actually is. In reality, this concept that I am obsessed with is just about making friends with people from different cultures! That doesn’t sound so boring now, right? Maybe I need to change some of my jargon in order to form more palatable posts. However, in one of the articles I read this week, the author uses the phrase and makes it sound fun. Heather Farr spent a month in Zambia and shared a few of her keys to cross-cultural communication in an article she recently wrote. Here are 5 of them:
#1 Do you research. This is a perfect #1, because it should always be one of the first priorities. One common mistake is assuming that your techniques and experience can apply in every situation. Sometimes even the best have to adapt.
#2 Take an interest. People will open up their souls to you if you just take a little interest. Especially in Logan, where it can be easy to assume as a minority, that no one really cares about your culture.
#3 Be an active listener. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and clarify. It can be very frustrating for non-native English speakers when they try to communicate what is on their mind, but they can’t get the point across. Be willing to help them out.
#4 Stay flexible. Sometimes you just can’t use certain analogies or techniques, because they won’t translate well. Be willing to sacrifice these for the benefit of clear communication.
#5 Keep an open mind. What’s religion to one man might just be superstition to another. Some cultures have very different customs and beliefs, and we need to try to understand them and learn to work with them, rather than throwing them away as something inferior.
If you are reading this blog, chances are you are already either consciously or subconsciously aware of these keys, but it’s good to have them written down and fleshed out. It’s also important to try and work them into the collective consciousness of the community. How is that done? Well, maybe that will have to wait for another post.