5 Ways to Build Inclusion Skills
By Lee Mozena, Copyright © 2017 by Zena Consulting All US and international rights reserved
In semi-rural Pennsylvania where I was raised, yoga was taboo and teriyaki was exotic. Folks considered it a mixed marriage when a Protestant and Catholic tied the knot.
I've come a long way since then and so have the people back home. As mono-culturalism yields to multi-culturalism there's potential for personal and economic growth. This isn't always a smooth process- it's human nature to prefer people we know, like and trust.
We often work with New American communities and clients. It can be slow, frustrating and rewarding. But the most useful rule for communicating well with anyone is to check my assumptions. The more unfamiliar someone seems, the more I want to put them in boxes. Here are tips to counter that urge:
1. Understand your own communication style. Do you value Individualism or Collaboration more? How does this compare and contrast with the people you manage or work with?
2. Try to learn about the cultures and customs of your customers, employees or co-workers. Do key topics like food, holidays, time, gender expectations, family commitments or modesty standards impact your interactions? What, if anything, should you do about it?
3. American culture is unusually fluid. Think of assimilation and acculturation as flexible guidelines- not hard data. Many of us behave differently at work than at home.
4. Don't assume women from more traditional cultures and faiths are oppressed by their male counterparts. It's insulting to both and people sense when they're being judged.
5. Expect to feel uncomfortable- it's part of learning and taking risks. You'll increase your network, business or partnership career opportunities. Check your assumptions. Enjoy the journey.
Visit Cultural Detective to learn more or call Lee Mozena at 206.368.9608.
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