The Same On The Inside, Different On The Outside

‘We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race.’ ~ Kofi Annan

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Do differences make you tremble in anticipation of excitement?

How likely is an individual to accept the challenges of the constantly changing environments and increasingly diverse world that erases differences between people and cultures?

How does cultural intelligence affect our acceptance or non-acceptance of differences around us?

How does our knowledge of different cultures shape and influence our attitude towards certain cultural differences?

If we look at any culture, we find that the elements of each cultural environment are the same:

Values, beliefs, behavior, perception, symbols and their meanings, language, religion, national clothing, similarities and differences, rules of social life, awareness of self, communication, information sharing, work habits and break connections and relationships, material life, learning styles, attitudes towards time, norms of behavior, human environment, traditions, social heritage, food and eating habits, and history.

Flexibility in thinking helps the perception and acceptance of differences in some of the elements of a culture. When being a part of diverse environments, the adoption of multicultural and diverse features is essential for people’s success in feeling welcomed and in learning new knowledge and facts.

Easy way to analyze the cultural differences in interpersonal relationships is by dividing these differences as visible on the surface and hidden beneath the surface.

What is visible on the surface?

  • Communication styles
  • The attitude towards conflict
  • Approaches to solving problems/issues
  • Styles of decision-making
  • Ways of expression
  • Approaches to acquiring knowledge

What is hidden beneath the surface?

  • Convictions
  • Values
  • Perception
  • Expectations
  • Ways of thinking
  • Prejudices

Research considers that the division of the surfaces is communication between two individuals, as if they are two different cultures. Individual beliefs, values, sense of mental reality and experiences determine the perception of differences at every level.

Easier acceptance of cultural differences:

  1. Appreciating differences

Differences always make us see the world from another perspective, often different from our own.

2. Being open to new ideas

Positive attitude to new ideas and ways of thinking helps us break our own framework of the world and our thinking.

3. Looking for the common and not focusing on differences

Man is a social being and seeks to group together with fellow humans. If we focus on commonalities, perspectives, views and opinions we will achieve much faster better and successful communication.

4. Being open-minded

Keeping an open mind, telling the world that you‘re creative, you know a lot, but you look forward to learning more, but also that you have no framed restrictions and limits.

5. Learning to feel comfortable with discomfort

The so popular exit out of the comfort zone is mandatory when we want to be receptive and tolerant of cultural differences and peculiarities.

6. Creating new acquaintances and friendships from diverse backgrounds

7. Questioning your own beliefs and prejudices

Most of people’s beliefs are from doing a “great” job in daily life. But sometimes it is worthwhile to challenge and question those beliefs in order to give ourselves a chance to look at new surroundings in a new way.

8. Observing the world around us

The ability to monitor can educate and improve us constantly.

9. Practicing patience

Recently, I read something about patience, which I loved: “Patience is the feeling we experience to the distance between what we have now, and what we know we can be.” In the context of intercultural communication, we know that patience can be to our benefit bringing unforgettable experiences.

10. Searching and discovering the individual qualities of everyone we communicate with.

11. Giving everyone respect

A quote by Joseph Joubert says, “To be capable of respect is, in these days, almost as rare as to be worthy of it.”

12. Embracing change in all of its forms

Our modern society requires modern man to be emotionally and socially intelligent, tolerant and receptive to differences, flexible in thinking and behavior and open to innovation and new approaches.

What would you add to the cultural acceptance list?

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About The Author

Dr. Kachovska is an internationally known Change Catalyst. She teaches individuals and organizations about awareness, connection and the need for change — personally, socially, and professionally.

You can connect with her on Thrive Global, Medium, Twitter and LinkedIn

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