Result of on-line brainstorm in 2000 of quick short advice points for handling intercultural differences or issues; 350 participants all interculturalists using internet as means of sharing ideas and solutions, run by Thiagi.† For full list see http://www.thiagi.com/email-intercultural101-tips.html
1. MINDFULNESS: Be mindful of your own reactions to what is occurring in the interaction and how it is based in your own culture. Use your physical reactions as a point of information...something is going on, why am I responding in this manner? Be mindful of other's behaviour, attending to the interactions that are occurring, your contributions to them, and how they can be enabled.
2. COMFORT WITH SILENCE: Do not feel obliged to fill the silence. Relax into it, observe, and allow a quiet space to occur.
3. AVOID DEBATES. Avoid "persuading" or "debating" -- this is far too personal and stifling for many people. One technique for members who value debate is to have them take the position opposite their personal beliefs.
4. OBSERVATION. Before you enter actively into the new group yourself, observe, observe, observe. Is there a leader? Who talks? How do they all seem to interact with each other? etc. (You can develop an entire checklist.)
5. KNOW THYSELF - In order to understand differences and be sensitive to other people's thoughts and feelings, we must be aware of our own thoughts, feelings, and biases. It is far easier to understand each other as individuals if we understand ourselves first.
6. ACKNOWLEDGE THAT VALUES ARE A SYSTEM FOR DECISION-MAKING. It is impossible to compare cultures by saying this culture values "this" while another culture values "that." Humans and the societies we live in are much more complex than such simple comparisons allow.
7. ESTIMATE YOUR TIMELINE, THEN DOUBLE IT. (IF YOU ARE WORKING FROM DIFFERENT LOCATIONS, THEN DOUBLE IT AGAIN.) Working across language and culture barriers takes extra time and energy. Plan for it, and you will avoid the added stress of falling behind schedule.
8. TOLERANCE FOR AMBIGUITY: The ability to be in a situation that is unclear and not become overly anxious but to patiently determine what is appropriate as that becomes apparent. Stay calm and be patient. Low Tolerance: people seek information to support their own beliefs. High Tolerance: people seek "objective" information from others to gain an understanding of the situation and to accurately predict the behavior of others.
9. CROSS-CULTURAL EMPATHY: Being able to participate in another person's experience in your imagination; thinking it intellectually and feeling it emotionally. Not a matter of walking in another's shoes, actually, but of seeing and feeling the situation from their perspective
10. BE PATIENT, WITH YOURSELF ANF WITH OTHERS
11. LAY THE GROUND RULES
12. DONíT GET ANGRY Ė ASK QUESTIONS
13. SHOW RESPECT
14. LET EVERYONE KNOW THE RULES
15. WRITE IT DOWN
16. AVOID USING IDIOMS
18. CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING
20. FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS