Think Through Strategies For Culturally Sensitive Interactions

The world is full of a myriad of cultures.  It is important for us to stay alert to the need to be culturally sensitive at home and abroad.  Below are a few quick tips that should aid you in that goal.  Review these tips, think about them and expand your thinking around their meanings and action requirements.  These strategies require you to:

  • Treat all with dignity and respect.
  • Ask questions...don't just assume.  Listen first for the lay of the land.
  • Be a semanticist - Know the meaning of words - Sometimes they change depending upon where you are.
  • Get to know the person.  Don't assume anything...That can always get you in trouble.
  • Ask his/her preferences.  We all have our own desires.
  • Know the emotional connotations of "labels" for the person.  Don't label anyone.  Instead use fact-based and objective descriptions to describe what you see.
  • Treat other like you would like to be treated.  If you wouldn't like something others probably won't either.
  • Don't talk down to the person.  This may put the person on the defensive.  Get an understanding of who the person is, what he or she believes and then communicate.
  • Don't stereotype.  No one likes to be lumped in a category.
  • Remember to be culturally sensitive.  You must get your facts right.  Listen well and speak cautiously.
  • Forget labeling.  No one wants an unasked for title.
  • Listen first to learn the lay of the land.  Again this approach will keep you free of unexpected problems.

Don't forget to analyze these strategies to get their full meaning.  What additional techniques could you add to make you more culturally sensitive?  Take time to assess how sensitive you have been in the past.  Are there a few things you could do to be more sensitive in the future?  If so, write them down now.  It is never too early to focus on being more culturally correct and sensitive.

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