1. Discussing Your Differences with Others
Nowadays, the world is dominated by globalization, therefore interconnectivity is the buzz word of the decade. Whilst this trend brings a lot of advantages, such as massively increased trade, higher standards of living and diversity, it can also pose some challenges. One of them is cultural barriers. Understanding and overcoming cultural barriers is of paramount importance for a company’s successful expansion. In addition to this, there is also the employee factor and their personal development.
Acknowledging the importance of understanding multiculturalism in the business world can be the key to success. Most cross-cultural misunderstandings come from a single-minded perspective. When we judge others through the lens of our own culture, we may end up with erroneous interpretations. Failing to acknowledge diversity and differences may easily lead to misconceptions and even conflict.
Therefore, be mindful and try to educate yourself about your co-worker’s background. You can also facilitate overcoming differences by sharing information about your own culture and being open to dialogue. After cultural differences were acknowledged, it’s key to learn more about them. You can either do your own research or simply politely inquire into the matter. Understanding the reasoning behind one’s actions can reduce wrong labelling and lead to a more effective collaboration and communication process.
In a working environment, diversity training could be a solution to offset the lack of integration and weak cooperation. The use of a conversation technique like Clarify can result in advanced employee productivity and an improved working atmosphere.
C L A R I F Y
The letters in CLARIFY stand for: Check your motives, Listen, Ask, Repeat, use I-statements, Find common ground, and adopt a “Yet” mind-set. You can use the CLARIFY technique to discuss any kind of difference, including political, religious, ethnic, class, age, or gender differences, as well as everyday differences of opinion.
- 1. Check your motives. Why do you want to have a conversation with this person? If your intention is to change their mind, humiliate them, or show them that they are wrong, then avoid the talk. Approach your conversation as an anthropologist trying to understand someone deeply different than you. Who is this person? Why do they think, feel, believe, value, and act the way they do? Even if you know some of these answers, give the other side a chance to share their heads and hearts
- Listen carefully. Aim to understand what the speaker means and feels, not just the words they’re using. Paying close attention shows respect, which is the foundation of learning from each other.
- Ask open-ended questions. Start your queries with “how” or “why” to elicit deeper answers that go beyond “yes” or “no.” Asking open-ended questions will not only help you better understand the other person’s perspective, but also demonstrate your genuine interest in exchanging information—not just winning your point. Here are some examples:
“How does that make you feel?”
“Why do you think you react that way?”
“How do you reach that conclusion?”
- Repeat what the person has said, your interpretation of what they mean, and how you think they are feeling. This not only makes the person feel heard and understood, but also gives you time and space to consider whatyouthink and feel. Some helpful prompts include:
“So, what I hear you saying is…”
“I am sensing that you feel…”
“Let me make sure I understand: You believe that…”
- Use I-statements to express your thoughts, feelings, and values without portraying them as universal truths or attacks on the other person. These “I” phrases include: I feel, I believe, I think, I have read,and I learned.
- Find common ground, especially shared values, and point it out often. Try these phrases:
“I sense we share the desire to do what is right.”
“I appreciate your honesty.”
“It seems we both care deeply about our children’s futures.”
- Adopt a “yet” mind-set: Be an optimist. You may not understand each other yet,but keep talking and listening. You are at least guaranteed to learn more about a different perspective. You are also more likely to develop empathyand tactics for getting along.
Of course, you could just keep on avoiding exploring your differences with other people. But our failures to reach out across political, gender, racial, ethnic, regional, age, and class divides are deepening the fractures in our nation and world. This year, do your part for world peace and your own personal development. Practice your cross-cultural conversation skills, and let bipartisanship begin with you.