Breaking Cultural Communication Barriers

Move beyond stereotypes, break cultural communication barriers, make cross cultural connections, and develop communication skills. Understand differences in people.

We live in a culturally diverse world. People will encounter individuals from different races, religions, and nationalities in their day to day encounters. There is often anxiety surrounding unfamiliar cultures. What manners are acceptable? What will offend a person from a very different background? It can be paralyzing to deal with other people if we do not know what to expect. The following suggestions discussed in the manual, Becoming a Master Student, by Dave Ellis are applicable to people in a variety of settings.

The desire to communicate is the first step in being effective. No matter what tools you gain in cross cultural communication. The desire to connect with another human being is the bond that will express itself clearly. A genuine effort to understand another person goes along way in the path to communication.

Knowing about other cultures will help you develop your skills. Be proactive when approaching a new culture. This is a learned skill which means it will require research, practice, and growth. People from different backgrounds may have varied approaches to conflict management, learning styles, family structure, religion, and most other aspects of life. It is impossible to know the varied systems of all cultures, so approach this process one culture at a time as you meet and deal with new people.

When dealing with diverse people look for similarities. Our goals, dreams, and aspirations may be more alike than our skin color. Parenting approaches may differ, but the common bond of a mother and a child crosses many barriers. Most people have basic needs in common, like Maslow's hierarchy of needs that suggest all people have physiological, safety, acceptance, self-esteem, and self-actualization needs. Considering these things it is easy to see our essential common ground. And this is where we can begin our comprehension of others.

Put your new information about other people into action. Make a personal inventory of your own biases. Where has your ignorance held you back from appreciating other people? What have you learned that makes this old paradigm obsolete? Help to educate people in your family and group of friends about your new leanings. Be careful. People become attached to their ignorance, and have difficulty accepting new ideas. It may have taken you a while to gain the knowledge necessary to deal with people. Encourage others to be open, but know that information is integrated when a person is ready to accept it. Form alliances with people from different cultures to know what challenges they have dealing with your culture. Help the general community to grow by raising awareness and promoting fair treatment for all people.

It is important as you become a promoter of cross cultural communications that you reach beyond stereotypes. These do not represent the population they seek to identify. It is necessary to evaluate people on an individual basis. Stereotypes often reflect the differences in socioeconomic status, religion, or dialect. These differences are apparent in all races and cannot identify one specific group of people. It is important to suspend judgment, avoid misconceptions, narrow perspectives, and immature reactions. Stereotypes often contain a granule of truth, but this tiny truth cannot characterize an entire culture. Getting the whole picture is being active, and thinking critically about people and their behavior.

Ultimately the barriers that exist between cultures are weak We need desire, information, and the willingness to take interpersonal risks to break them. An individual's ability to be open to new ideas and new people will go a long way in the process of cross cultural communication. It starts with a smile and acceptance. It leads to an exciting new world full of clarity and connectedness.

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