Removing the Barriers to Effective Multicultural Communication #1 – Self-Awareness
Enhance your self-awareness. To reduce the impact that stereotyping has on your interactions, you must increase your understanding of the biases and stereotypes you have. You must also understand the impact they have on your communication with others, especially those who are culturally different. Remember, stereotyping is a subtle, often unconscious process that can negatively impact the quality of your communication. The best way to increase your understanding of your stereotypes is to ask for both positive and constructive feedback from people you trust and respect. You should include individuals that have had an opportunity to interact with you over a period of time. They can provide you with useful information regarding your behavior and performance in a variety of situations. Most importantly, they may see something in your behavior that you will not discover on your own.
Next Post: April 14, 2014 – Removing the Barriers to Effective Multicultural Communication # 2
In my last three posts, I introduced the 3 barriers to effective multicultural communication. These barriers, which include stereotyping, a lack of understanding and judgmental attitudes, have the potential to cause significant communication problems in diverse organizational settings. Fortunately, there are specific steps that each of us can take to help remove these barriers. These steps include:
Next Post: March 31, 2014 – Removing the Barriers to Effective Multicultural Communication # 1
The final major barrier to effective cross-cultural communication includes the judgmental attitudes many of us have when it comes to interacting with people who are different. Most of us would like to believe we are open-minded and accepting. But in reality, a great many of us find discomfort with those who are different in terms of values, beliefs and behaviors. We may then evaluate those values, beliefs and behaviors in a negative light. This is the essence of ethnocentrism, where we evaluate good and bad, right and wrong relative to how closely the values, behaviors and ideas of others mirror our own. Put simply, to effectively interact with people who are different from us, we must suspend judgment about their ways, and try to understand them from their perspective. But for most of us, this is much easier said than done.
Next Post: March 24, 2014 – Removing the Barriers to Effective Multicultural Communication
The Barriers to Effective Multicultural Communication #2: A Lack of Understanding
Another major barrier to effective multicultural interaction is the lack of understanding that is frequently present between people from different backgrounds. Because people may have differences in values, beliefs, methods of reasoning, communication styles, work styles, and personality types, communication difficulties will often occur. In order to communicate effectively, each party must have a clear and accurate understanding of the thoughts, feelings, ideas, values, styles, desires and goals of the other person. But because of the differences between communication partners, this understanding is not always gained. This is compounded by the fact that many of us are not very effective at getting to understand the ways in which others may differ. Empathy, which is the ability to understand the world from another person’s point of view, is an important multicultural communication skill. Unfortunately, in our fast-paced, technologically-focused world, we don’t often take the time needed to truly understand where our colleagues are coming from.
Next Post: March 17, 2014 – The Barriers to Effective Multicultural Communication #3
The most significant barrier to effective cross-cultural communication is the tendency of human beings to stereotype, or more specifically, to categorize and make assumptions about others based on identified characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, socioeconomic status or nationality. Whether we realize it or not (and we often do not), we all stereotype and make assumptions about others at one time or another. Most of us do this on a regular basis. Some of the more blatant and destructive examples of these assumptions include job interviewers who reject certain candidates based on racial or gender stereotypes, teachers who assume that certain students are less likely to succeed because of where they come from, or store owners who harass people from particular racial or ethnic groups. However, not all stereotyping is so blatant. More subtle examples include shying away from people who are culturally different (which is one of the reasons people from similar racial and cultural backgrounds tend to group together), or assuming people will behave a certain way based on their race, gender, place of origin or position within an organization. Bottom-line, whether it is blatant or subtle, stereotyping can have an extremely negative impact on communication and human interaction.
Next Post: March 10, 2014 – The Barriers to Effective Multicultural Communication #2
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.