I start many of my multicultural communication training programs with a brief activity called 60 Second Introductions. It’s very easy to do. I have all the participants pair up with someone they do not know or don’t know very well. I then give them 60 seconds to discuss their similarities (i.e., the things they have in common). After that, I give them another 60 seconds to identify their differences. After everyone returns to their seats, I pose a single question to the group: what did you learn? Almost universally, the response is “we had many more similarities than differences.” That’s true for most cross-cultural interactions. We tend to have far more similarities with culturally different persons than differences; however, we often focus on the differences and allow those differences to interfere with the relationship-building process. You can overcome this tendency by consciously seeking common ground between yourself and others. Always remember, no matter what the differences are, you will always have more similarities with your colleagues and co-workers. Focus on identifying these similarities and using them as a means to better understand your differences. Keep this in mind as you enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!
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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.