Ask Alignor

What is the best way to deal with people from other cultures?

It can be very challenging to deal with people from cultures different from your own culture, particularly when you don’t know much about those cultures. For example, within your own culture you may have confidence interpreting not only verbal statements but also non-verbal messages, such as body language, whereas when you deal with people across cultures you may not be able to rely on those cues. A good first step in dealing with people across cultures is to find out as much as you can about the other culture. This will help minimize avoidable misunderstandings. Also, try to be very clear and straightforward in your communications across cultures. It can be very helpful to put information in writing so that the people you are dealing with can study (and if necessary, interpret in advance) what you are saying. Do not use fancy words or jargon that may not mean the same things in another culture, especially if the first language of that other culture is not the same as your first language. Similarly, avoid culturally biased attempts at humor, which can cause unfortunate misunderstandings. Most important, remember that all people will try to satisfy their interests as they understand their interests. This means you should focus mostly on trying to understand the interests of the people you are dealing with. Once you have done this, you can look for effective ways to satisfy those interests by collaborating with others. Finally, be careful about communicating the consequences of not collaborating across cultures, as this information can easily be misinterpreted as a culturally inappropriate threat.

SHARE