There are many aspects of culture — shared language, traditions, norms and beliefs and customs. Regardless of the culture, successful interactions across cultures are built on respect, trust and the ability to communicate effectively. Use the following tips to build your cross-cultural relationships:
Seek to understand. Don’t make assumptions. Ideally you want to learn about different cultures through a variety of credible sources – your own personal relationships, books, travel, research and ongoing education.
Keep an open mind. Avoid stereotypes. Expand your base by building a broad cross-section of relationships – gender, race, sexual orientation, country of origin and people who think differently from you.
Start with “who you know.” The best place to start is with others who you know inside and outside of your organization, business, and social organizations.
Attend multicultural networking events. Professional organizations, cultural events, conferences, diversity forums, minority business expos and community events are all great places to network.
Get involved. Volunteer and partner with groups and organizations where you can add value, while interacting and getting to know others from different backgrounds. It will take time to build trust and to establish authentic relationships, so think long-term.
Keep your word. Establishing trust is the key to sustained successful relationships. If you say you’re going to do something – do it!
Assume positive intent. Be positive. At some point miscommunication is likely to occur. When this happens, don’t give up. Assume positive intent and continue on the journey. Persistence is the key. Stay the course and establish yourself as someone with genuine interest in maintaining relationships across cultures.