Suspend Judgment. A final step that we have to take in order to remove the barriers is to reduce the extent to which we evaluate and judge others. Now this is very difficult for most of us. That's because we spend so much of our lives standing in judgment of others (e.g., managers evaluating job performance, teachers assessing student performance). The problem is the criteria we use to make those judgments. Most of us use our own values, styles and beliefs as the criteria for how we assess others (this is the essence of ethnocentrism). The more alike someone else is, the more positively we judge them. However, people from different cultures may be unlike us in terms of values, styles and beliefs. It is then that we must suspend our judgment and try to understand others as individuals. And we must attempt to gain this understanding from their cultural perspective, not from our own. The best way to do this is to be more accepting of others. Acceptance refers to a willingness to support and validate others even when you disagree with them. You can be totally accepting of a person while still disagreeing with their ideas or certain beliefs that they hold. You can demonstrate acceptance by actively listening to others, attempting to understand where they are coming from and trying to address whatever issues or concerns they raise. Remember that communication is always best when it supports and validates the other person.
Next Post: May 12, 2014 – How to Reduce Stereotyping
Increase your empathy. Empathy can be defined as the ability to step into another person's shoes, and experience the world from his or her perspective. It is a cognitive and psychological state where you truly understand where another person is coming from. Empathy is the single most important element of multicultural communication. Without it, there is no true connection between people, and there is no chance of removing communication barriers such as stereotyping and ethnocentrism. To increase your empathy, you must actively work at getting to know culturally different people. You can do this by participating in social activities with culturally diverse individuals, attending cultural events, participating in programs specific to a cultural tradition like Black History Month, attending worship services at churches, synagogues and mosques, visiting ethnic restaurants, participating in diversity workshops, reading books by and about members of different cultural groups, and joining cultural organizations.
Next Post: April 28, 2014 – Removing the Barriers to Effective 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.