3 Practical Tips for Multicultural Communication
Updated: Sep 13, 2020
Having conversations and making personal connections with people from other cultures can offer opportunities for personal and professional growth. These interactions offer new perspectives and open the door wider to opportunities for Culture Exchange. But how can you get the most out of multicultural interactions?
Article written by Lucas Evangelista
1. Do Your Research
It’s important to build a basic understanding of somebody's personal cultural approach to interaction. Does their culture expect a certain degree of formality in their introductions? Hey or Hello? hand shake or hug? What about politeness? Getting to know these cultural tendencies can really help you avoid misunderstandings or accidental rudeness. Take into account if you are visiting others or others vising you.
I always find it useful to ask someone that has been in the same places you are going before or see if there is a host where you are going that can facilitate if special costumes are desired. Keep doing this in every new place you go and you'll learn how to say hello in multiple cultural and spoken languages.
2. Watch the Volume
While speaking to someone from another country, pay attention to the volume of their voice. People talk in a wide range of volumes naturally depending on their personality and social setting, but sometimes culture can also come into play. Some countries are known for being home for people that express themselves loudly and freely, like Italy and Australia.
At the same time, others are known for their softer tones, like Japan. Listen for their style of speech, as being too loud in conversation is considered rude in some buildings, ceremonies and activities.
Fun reference: You will notice that sometimes even when the common language is English, the rhythm of speech, choice of words and pronunciation can be a fun blend in between English and the native language.
3. Find Common Ground
It may seem difficult to connect with people whose life experiences and ways of thinking are vastly different from your own ones. It helps to begin conversations with questions that seek common ground. A great way to do this is to ask them about their favorite food from their hometown. Food is a neutral and easy topic that can put people at ease as they describe something familiar to them. This about other easy topics that can be discussed over different cultures. Avoid Politics!
Following these tips can help you express a good impression and begin to build connections with people from diverse cultures. When you interact with people from different backgrounds, it is important to make them feel you are engaged, curious, and respectful. You never know what you’ll learn once you begin to see the world through their eyes!
Best Strategy to carry is to observe, take time and make an effort to know the local culture and language. As everything else it will require for you to make a few mistakes to learn the local ways but the best thing about it is that the locals always will continue to share culture.