Short lessons from Human Diversity today, paraphrased: 1 To improve intercultural communication remember that you are looking at people through your own eyes and not seeing them exactly as who they are, 2 we all play by different rules in communication, 3 we all value different things, and 4 communication itself is one of the best things to use when solving communication problems.

  1. When I think of someone’s name, I think about their body shape, their skin color, their eyes, gender, family culture, language and religion. I put labels on them, titles and names by which to call them and refer to the idea which I hold in my mind to be them. Those aren’t correct, how could they be?
  2. If I were to talk with someone who is comfortable getting physically closer when talking than I feel comfortable getting, they aren’t doing it to be mean and by stepping back I am not trying to be mean, but we both are sending negative messages about our communication together. If I do not share the same rules as others in communication, whether gesticulation, word usage or proximity when talking, it is better to understand and recognize that and then work to a solution rather than simply judge it as bad or unavoidable.
  3. This also includes value systems which I may not agree with as being correct for my own life. Whether religious or family values, local, state, country or regional values, I am likely in any given day to find dozens of people who I strongly disagree with (in broad system values). Moreover, everyone I meet every day of my life will have values that do not match mine in their entirety or likely even within ten percentage points.
  4. Communication then, the challenge and the solution, presents itself as a method through which I may become closer to people. Closer friends might mean friends who I can be close to and how many of those could I have? If I work hard and stay alert, I could begin to close the gap every time.