Date: Saturday, April 2nd 2016
Format: General Discussion
Participants (from 21 countries):
France: Djamila | Algeria: Soso, Faycel| Pakistan: Usman, Saifi, Jahangir | Bangladesh: Mohiuddin, JA | Tunisia: Amine, Marwa | Romania: Flory | India: Haary, Ranjith | Argentina: Johny | Russia/Azerbaijan: Salima |Russia: Salavat | Brazil: Leandro | Iran: Rojhano, Guneyli, Behnam, Noorola, Behare, Elham, Flower, Ibrahim | Egypt: Zeinab, Haytham | Philippines: Robinson | Kurdistan: Suren, Zahir | Vietnam: Amina, Tamy | Indonesia: Mikhael | Switzerland: George | Kazakhstan: Pearl |USA: Rick | Spain: Sergio
Host: Rick (USA)
- Barriers are obvious in some SKYPE groups
- There have been a lot of things learned
- How to manage communication with different people
- Get over shyness when talking with people from different countries
- In time, felt more comfortable, including the types of jokes they accept
- Most important is to learn to respect without thinking about religion or background
- The global transportation system has facilitated more cultural interaction
- Had roommates from Tunisia, China and Romania. Learned a lot from these experiences, different food. Invitation from Tunisia to eat more couscous, a favorite dish from Tunisia. One of his room-mates ate only Chinese food, did not want to eat the local food.
- In Italy, some of his room-mates went into the mountains and illegally killed a lamb for a festival. People need to respect local laws no matter what country they are from.
- Patience is a critical trait towards breaking down barriers between people of different cultures.
- In Canada, at a local university, cultures and religions existed very closely to each other and on campus there were Temples, Churches, Mosque and Synagogue. This is also true in many other western countries where freedom of expression, religions etc. are permitted. This type of open and tolerant society helps to break down cultural barriers.
- Give people space/room, don’t crowd them or try to pressure them, let them acclimate and feel comfortable with breaking down the barriers.
Five major barriers exist
- Verbal Language
- Body Language
- Verbal Language/communication
It is the most important barrier to overcome, because when you can communicate with another person, you can share ideas, discuss things. If there was a universal language, perhaps many problems in the world would be solved. English is the common language used internationally, therefore is a good way to learn to understand people from other cultures
In Dreams N Motion/Global English Group, we bridge the cultures through our use of a common language
Most people do not act in accordance with the religion they practice using the positive attributes, and actions are the most important .There is no consistency or various little consistencies, different interpretations, so this leads to labels and misunderstanding/mistrust. For example, in some countries, perhaps due to the religion, Thursday and Friday may be the day off (non-secular countries) where as in other countries (secular), Saturday and Sunday may be the typical day off. This can lead to missed opportunities for communication in an education or career environment.
The use of certain clothing, and differences in how it is worn, can also lead to cultural misunderstanding.
Food can also be a barrier, perhaps even related to their religion or due to personal likes/dislikes. Often people are used to eating a certain type of food in their culture and may not feel comfortable with other types of food.
Things like eye contact, while in some countries is considered good, is considered rude in other countries
Gestures such as a thumbs up is a good sign in most countries, is considered rude in Iran
This can be a very large barrier, preconceived stereotypes
o All Asian are clever
o All Muslims are terrorist
o All Westerners are rich and smart
Stereotyping is perhaps one of the most dangerous barriers, because it is based on generalization and often, the actions of a few compared to the actions of the majority. It is also leads to bias and prejudice, and in many cases, conflict and division.
In general, the key to breaking down these barriers include:
2) Do not be quick to judge.
3) Base your beliefs on your experience, not what someone else tells you.
4) Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
5) You can respect the person, even if you do not agree with the cultural practices
- As a person originally from Philippines but living in the United Arab Emirates, it was important to learn about the Arab culture.
- Language is the largest barrier and learning even some basic phrases can be very helpful to opening up with people from other cultures.
- Believes in giving people space, about 3 feet.
- Be sensitive to talking with people, learn about things that may offend people and avoid them.
- Also ask permission for something, and show respect.
- Barriers are in the mind, not real.
- The more you know about other cultures, the more you will appreciate your own culture.
There is a referenced a popular YouTube video that showed a man in a European city, walking towards a mother and her child. The man, dark in complexion, with a beard and carrying a suitcase approached towards the mother and her child. In fear, the woman walked towards an opposite direction, at which time another man approached her, snatched her purse, and ran off. The man with the beard and dark complexion, ran after the purse snatcher, caught him and brought the purse back to the mother. Don’t judge without knowing the truth.
In order to break barriers, you have to change the way you think, the way you look at things; it’s a matter of values, perspective and attitude.
- Language is important, when considering how to break down barriers.
- People from different cultures should inter-mingle, to learn more about each other.
- We should learn tolerance and accepting those things that are different from ourselves.
- Culture is defined by such things as our beliefs, rituals, symbols, language and tradition, passed on from one generation to another.
- Language tends to be the largest barrier, which can be addressed through taking the time to learn another language, which will take time.
- Religion can be a barrier, different beliefs and rituals.
- Body language and things such as man/woman interaction, as practiced in certain cultures can be barriers.
- The key is to learn about other cultures, expand your knowledge.
- Don’t think that you know everything, don’t be self-absorbed.
- Don’t judge, look at things from another’s perspective, be open minded.
- Awareness is very important
- A student in one of his classes did not want to make eye contact with the teacher; this caused a lot of problems in class, even though it might have been culturally influenced.
- In the prior past century, cultures lived in a vacuum but now people need to live together, cooperate, and collaborate due to the “shrinking” world we live in, partially as a result of economic globalization.
- Retain your culture, but also learn to respect others and acculturate/assimilate.
- Religion and mindsets are the biggest barriers.
- Social Barriers can be very dangerous.
- In his village, there are two religions people practice, and though they co-exists, there are many differences.
- Has a room-mate that practices a different religion, but they respect each other.
- In a company environment, team work is very important and in multi-national companies, this can be critical towards running an effective company.
- Cultural issues can prevent people from working together as a team, if there is not strong leadership and corporate training to work through any cultural barriers.
- Learning a common language will lead to trust which will lead to effective communication.
- Early to bed, early to rise, makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise
Being an exchange student to Australia while in high school and growing up in a multi-cultural environment was critical towards learning how to break down barriers.
In California and in general, the USA, we have a large and diverse country, based on cultures from all over the world. Just in Los Angeles, you can find Thai Town, Japan Town, China Town, Korea Town, Little Saigon, large populations of people from Arabic countries, Iranians, Kurds, Latin American countries, European countries etc. etc. Growing up in this environment, it was very natural to become familiar with many different cultures.
Being in the military, and traveling to many different countries, we were always expecting to be a good ambassador of our country, to learn the cultures of the countries we visited and to show respect for them.
Your values are a critical part of how you treat others, how you respect things that are different, how to maintain your standards and principles, while still reaching out to others that may think differently.
While we may not agree with some aspects of a culture, we can learn to respect individuals whether or not we agree with the culture.
Thanks so much for participating in this discussion. Below are the links to listen to it.
For people who did not join the live discussion, feel free to contribute the ideas in the comment blanks below.