There was a story on NPR last month that showed that despite sharing the same genes, siblings can be completely foreign to each other from a personality perspective. Not only do they share the same culture, they come from the same gosh darn family….and still sometimes can’t get along.
You’d think applying some of the basic tenets of Engagement and Inclusion, or Intercultural Communications might help, but…
In intercultural communications, we take responsibility for our actions and our role in an interaction. We say, “oh, that didn’t work, let me try another approach.”
We don’t say, “You wanna play nice? You go first.”
In intercultural communications, we learn to recognize when someone’s communication style is different than our own, and we learn to separate the content from the delivery style.
We don’t say “You’re communication style sucks.”
In intercultural communications we learn to assume positive intent first, so that if someone e-mails and texts us on the weekend to confirm a weekend gathering, we think “they must really WANT to reach us and must be more comfortable with this technology assisted communication (or perhaps they are studying Japanese and didn’t say anything…30% of Japanese Send E-Mail First To Ask If They Can Call. One reason given: “Other person may not like telephone”)
When we look at the missed messages on Monday we don’t think “It was Sunday, why didn’t he/she just pick up the @$%&* phone and call the house if he/she really wanted to talk?
And, finally, in intercultural communications, we might say “tell me the cultural tradition of your beautiful clothing.”
We don’t say “Yeah?! Well…Your mother dresses you funny!”
Ah, but wait, I just insulted myself. We have the same mother.
And there lies the deeper difficulty, or perhaps the more profound challenge ultimately yielding the greater reward.
While Engagement and Inclusion and Intercultural Communications are critical for a more productive workplace, and while one hopes that learning to navigate cultural differences at work will promote greater sensitivity overall…at the end of the day these valuable workplace skills, can if one chooses, stay at work.
But family, they are permanent and constant.
Okay. Swallow. Let me try another approach. If I can master this, I can do anything!
Photo credit by Regenboog on Flickr