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.
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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.