It’s almost universally accepted that in today’s global business and economic environment understanding other cultures is a must. However, the increase in immigration is also making it more important that individuals understand the habits and cultures of other people.
This is particularly true in Canada.
More than 80 percent of Canada’s growth in the second quarter of 2018 was through immigration, according to the Canada Immigration Newsletter. This was the second-largest three-month growth spurt in almost 50 years.
It’s also expected that by 2035, all of Canada’s growth will be through immigration. In fact, multiculturalism has long been adopted by the government as an official Canadian policy.
This means it’s increasingly likely that the people who live next to, shop among or work with you will be from other cultures. Understanding other cultures can provide a wide variety of pleasurable experiences you might not otherwise enjoy.
Fortunately, there are many ways to learn to work and live with other cultures.
One of the most effective is the Berlitz Cultural Navigatior® designed to help personalize cultural learning based on specific goals.
Following are some things to remember in your quest to better understand other cultures that may, ultimately, be part of your environment.
For example, these may include how trust is fostered, how others communicate, verbally and non-verbally, body language (gestures are an important part of communication in many cultures and languages), and what is offensive, and what is not.
Have honest discussions about cultural differences and habits
Given the demographic information mentioned above, it’s inevitable that we will deal with an increasing percentage of people from other cultures. It’s also almost inevitable you will make a mistake or do something insensitive. Don’t panic; in fact, learn from the mistake.
Have a frank discussion with the other person. How were they offended? Why? What are their customs in the same circumstances? Apologize. This goes for business and personal interactions.
Chances are this can help, not hinder, your relationship.
Services, such as the Berlitz Cultural Navigator®, provide recommendations and information on how to deal with people from other cultures. But you will probably also benefit from doing some work on your own.
Go online and search “Customs of (any culture),” and you’ll find a ton of information that will help you understand what customs make other cultures act and react.
A recent look at programming offered by one cable company listed native language shows from eight different countries. Many of them include content about their cultures and countries.
You may have to take the first step; people from other cultures tend to feel somewhat isolated in a new environment. But with workplaces and communities becoming so culturally diversified, it may not be as hard as you think.
Understanding how your culture differs from others will help you identify and understand their differences and give you a better appreciation how they are different and similar.