Communicating with people from other cultures and demographics is different than if I am dealing with people from the same culture and demography as mine. There may be barriers in the lines of communications which should be understood at the onset and handled accordingly.
With people considerably older than me, I recognize the fact that they may be more knowing on most things based on their experiences. I hear them out first or ask their opinions. If I feel that such ideas do not work anymore, I politely point out that there is another approach to it which they may wish to try. For the considerably younger ones, I offer to act as a mentor or guide for whatever value my experiences may have on them. However, I also know that time does evolve and people must develop to keep up. In such a case, I seek their help to teach me as I can learn from them too. In both situations with the older and the younger colleagues, I use my listening and speaking communication skills to manage my interaction with them.
I chose the words I use with people with disabilities. For instance I am careful not to offend or to add insult to their injury so I use the words that suggest positivism or affirmation. For example, I refer to them as persons with visual impairment instead of calling them as the blind. I see beyond their disabilities, I see their person.
In communicating with foreigners I speak slowly to be sure that what I am saying is how they understand it. If they respond differently from what I expect, then it could be that I was not clear enough. In which case, I will re-phrase and re-confirm their response. I also use hand gestures and sometimes I have to draw or point to objects.
With the opposite gender, I do not encounter any communication problems. I am just my natural self in expressing my thoughts. The opposite gender understands the views and the manner are typical of my gender.
Tip Sheet for Effective Communication with People from Diverse Demographics and Different Cultural Backgrounds
- Thoughts come to me quick and just as quick I articulate them that people find it
hard to keep up. I have to slow down and give others the time to take in what I am saying.
- I need to focus more on the flow of conversations. Sometimes I have to grope for the right word and most often I end up gesturing.
- Some words even if they are synonymous are more appropriate to use than others.
- I need to take as much time as I possibly can to explain a complex issue or process. I often assume that at first pass people have absorbed what I said.
- It is also important that I learn a few foreign words from my foreigner acquaintances. It could be nice to let them know that I am just as interested to learn their culture and language.
- I should talk a little more as much as I listen.
Kwintessential Ltd. (2009). “Cross Cultural Communication across Languages.” Retrieved
July 7, 2009 from http://kwintessential.co.uk/
U.S. Department of Labor. (August 2002). “Communicating with and about People with
Disabilities. Retrieved July 7, 2009 from