Communicating From Worlds Apart

Improving cultural awareness is fundamentally a matter of respect and acknowledging differences. Here a communication skills expert notes that an appreciation of differences in behavior, attitude, values and beliefs significantly enhances interaction. Patience is an important starting point.

Snéha Khilay, a trainer from communication skills experts Speak First, provides insights about cultural diversity.

  • Cultural diversity is about how two people communicate recognizing their cultural differences, e.g., in some cultures people communicate without eye contact as a sign of respect
  • Cultural diversity covers behavior, attitude, values, beliefs, gender differences and the like
  • Four tips to consider when interacting with a person of a different background:
    • Use your observation skills; focus on behavior and body language and as try to mirror their behavior to build rapport
    • Appreciate differences, such as being on time and methods of communication (facts vs. emotions)
    • Respect individual concerns
    • Patience—some parts of the world elongate their responses to even simple questions like ‘how are you’?