Consciously strive to avoid making assumptions about others, especially people who are culturally different. Stereotyping (making generalizations about the members of a particular group) is very common and poses a significant barrier to effective cross-cultural communication. For that reason, it is important to be aware of the assumptions you make as you interact with culturally different people, and to make a conscious effort to minimize those assumptions. One way to do this is to decategorize using self-talk. Decategorization is the conscious, cognitive process of reminding yourself to avoid assumptions by intentionally focusing on the unique nature of every individual. For instance, prior to meeting someone new, you can decategorize by saying to yourself, “I’m going to get to know this person on an individual basis...I’m not going to make any generalizations or assumptions.” The reason this works so well is that you have recognized, in your own mind, your potential for stereotyping (i.e., making assumptions) and have taken proactive steps to stop it.
Next Post: September 29, 2015 - The 7 Don’ts of Multicultural Communication #3
Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes is an author, speaker, coach and consultant. He helps his clients develop the skills needed to communicate, resolve conflict, solve problems and improve performance in diverse organizational settings.