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.
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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.