It is easy to forget that the basis of any relationship is caring

It is easy to forget that the basis of any relationship is caring

One of the first and most important steps is to show up in places where you will meet people of cultures other than your own. Go to meetings and celebrations of groups whose members you want to get to know. Or hang out in restaurants and other gathering places that different cultural groups go. You may feel embarrassed or shy at first, but your efforts will pay off. People of a cultural group will notice if you take the risk of coming to one of their events. If it is difficult for you to be the only person like yourself attending, you can bring a buddy with you and support each other in making friends. At these events, it is important to participate, but make sure you do not become the center of the event in order to lift up the voices and actions of the people leading the event.

We all carry misinformation and stereotypes about people in different cultures. Especially, when we are young, we acquire this information in bits and pieces from TV, from listening to people talk, and from the culture at large. We are not bad people because we acquired this; no one requested to be misinformed.

An excellent way to become aware of your own stereotypes is to pick groups that you generalize about and write down your opinions. Once you have, examine the thoughts that came to your mind and where you acquired them.

Another way to become aware of stereotypes is to talk about them with people who have similar cultures to your own. In such settings you can talk about the misinformation you acquired without being offensive to people from a particular group. You can get together with a friend or two and talk about how you acquired stereotypes or fears of other different people. You can answer these kinds of questions:

  • How did your parents feel about different ethnic, racial, or religious groups?
  • What did your parents communicate to you with their actions and words?
  • Were your parents friends with people from many different groups?
  • What did you learn in school about a particular group?
  • Was there a lack of information about some people?
  • Are there some people you shy away from? Why?

People, for the most part, want to be asked questions about their lives and their cultures. People are usually pleasantly surprised when others show interest in their cultures. If you are sincere and you can listen, people will tell you a lot.

But in order to build relationships with people of different cultures, we have to become aware of the misinformation we acquired

It helps to read about and learn about people’s cultures and histories. If you know something about the reality of someone’s life and history, it shows that you care enough to take the time to find out about it. It also gives you background information that will make it easier to ask questions that make sense.

Many of us were told that asking questions was nosy; but if we are thoughtful, asking questions can help you learn about people of different cultures and help build relationships

However, you don’t have to be an expert on someone’s culture to get to know them or to ask questions. People who are, themselves, from a culture are usually the best experts, anyway.

Everyone wants to care and be cared about. Caring about people is what makes a relationship real. Don’t let your awkwardness around cultural differences get in the way of caring about people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.