Our interaction with individuals from different backgrounds is always a great challenge if a person does not have the required multicultural competence. It is a common thing for an individual to hold certain biases, attitudes, beliefs and perspectives in our interaction with culturally deferent individuals (Long, 2006).
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Participation in groups and places of work entirely depends on our multicultural competence. Conflicting values and misunderstandings that result from cultural differences are a great hindrance to positive human relationships (Long, 2006).
Cross-cultural differences can cause confusion at the workplace and in the process affect the performance of employees. The attitudes and perspectives of an individual are in most cases defined by their cultural backgrounds.
Positive multicultural interactions are very critical in the formation of partnerships (Bochner, 1982). It is important to have some level of understanding of the cultures for you to have a rational view on certain issues.
Many people stereotype ideas from culturally different individuals as a result of generalization (Bochner, 1982). There is a tendency to dismiss ideas from a culturally different individual and pay attention to ideas contributed by a person from your culture.
Many people assume that their way of communication is the right one compared to how people from different cultures communicate (Bochner, 1982). Many people portray a lot of bias when it comes to cross-cultural communication. We always blame individuals from different cultures incase of a communication breakdown.
It is very difficult for us to listen attentively to culturally different individuals because of the pre-conceived attitude that they can not tell us anything useful (Brislin, 1981). We always want individuals from a different cultural background to agree with our views without any kind of opposition.
We are always reluctant to come out of our comfort zones and accept divergent opinions. Individuals have their choices that need to be respected but many people are very unwilling to respect the choices of culturally different individuals (Brislin, 1981).
Most of the cultural biases are normally caused by language differences. We tend to have a negative attitude towards people who do not speak the same language with us (Brislin, 1981). There is always a tendency to believe that our own culture is superior to other cultures.
We always believe that other cultures are abnormal and our very own culture is the only normal one. It is common for us to believe that the way our cultural group behaves is the only standard of human behavior (Halverson, 2008).
We tend to value people form our own cultural group compared to those form other cultural groups. It is evident from this discussion that people always hold certain biases, attitudes, beliefs and perceptions in their interaction with culturally different individuals (Halverson, 2008).
Attitudes and perceptions influence a person’s interaction with culturally different individuals (Halverson, 2008). Communication is very critical in any kind of interactions and any wrong attitudes and perceptions always lead to a communication breakdown.
People from different cultures have their unique communication styles that need to be accepted by both parties for any meaningful interaction to take place (Halverson, 2008). It is difficult to interact with a culturally different individual if you are not willing to accommodate their communication styles.
Different cultural groups have different attitudes when it comes to conflicts (Long, 2006). Some cultural groups view conflicts as undesirable while others accept conflicts as a positive thing. It is a great challenge for individuals from different groups to interact well if their attitude towards conflicts is different.
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Conflicts are part of our daily interactions and the way we view them affects how we interact with each other (Long, 2006).
The attitude of a person towards relationship formation is influenced in a great way by their cultural background. An individual’s attitude towards relationship formation determines how they interact with others within a group (Long, 2006).
People from different cultures pursue relationships differently and any conflicting perceptions will definitely affect interactions in a negative way. Positive interactions within a group can only occur if the individuals within the group have a certain level of multicultural competence (Baldock, 2010).
There are some cultures that prefer consensus when it comes to making decisions while other cultures believe in the opinion of the majority. The attitude of feeling superior compared to culturally different individuals affects interactions in a very negative way (Baldock, 2010).
A positive interaction takes place when two individuals from different backgrounds interact freely on equal terms without any kind of prejudice.
People from different cultural groups have different attitudes and believes towards information disclosure (Brislin, 1981). Some cultures allow individuals to be frank with their emotion and do not find anything wrong in people disclosing their personal information in the course of their interactions with others.
It is difficult for an individual from such a background to interact with a person who is not used to sharing his or her personal information (Brislin, 1981). A person’s attitude towards disclosure will definitely affect their interaction with other people.
Avery open person tends to interact well with another open person and the same applies to discrete people. It is difficult for individuals with opposing attitudes towards disclosure to have a meaningful interaction.
It is important to note that two individuals from different cultural backgrounds can only interact freely if they are willing to adopt cross-cultural attitudes and perceptions (Bochner, 1982).
An individual’s level of knowledge on values, practices and experiences of different cultures determines whether they will have healthy multi-cultural interactions or not.
My level of knowledge on other cultures is reasonable enough to enable me interact freely with culturally different individuals (Long, 2006). I have some knowledge on multi-cultural communication and interaction that can enable me relate well with culturally different individuals.
My understanding of a variety of communication styles and languages makes things easier for me when it comes to multicultural interactions. Interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds has its strengths and weaknesses (Long, 2006).
Multicultural interactions enhance the performance of group projects because members from different cultural backgrounds can work freely without any barriers. The other strength of multicultural interactions is that they enable an individual to appreciate cultural diversities and form cross-cultural relationships.
The major weakness of multicultural interactions is that people might forget their cultural identities and at the same time eliminate the beauty of diversity (Baldock, 2010).
Having a balanced approach when it comes to multicultural interactions is the best way of dealing with the shortcomings of multicultural interactions. It is not advisable to completely forget about your own cultural identity while interacting with culturally different individuals (Baldock, 2010).
It is important to look for proper interpretation of different cultural norms before coming up with wrong interpretations and perceptions. A person should also focus on other attributes such as the personality and education of a culturally different individual as a way of avoiding cultural stereotypes (Long, 2006).
Baldock, P. (2010). Understanding cultural diversity in the early years. New York, NY: SAGE.
Bochner, S. (1982). Cultures in contact: Studies in cross-cultural interaction. London: Pergamon Press.
Brislin, R. (1981). Cross-cultural encounters, face-to-face interaction. London: Pergamon Press.
Halverson, C. (2008). Effective multicultural teams: Theory and practice. New York, NY: Springer.
Long, R. (2006). Stepping out into cross-cultural interactions. New York, NY: Lulu.com.