Guidelines for multicultural interactions

Be present…Let go of anything that might be a distraction (deadlines, paperwork, children, etc.) and be intentional about your purpose in this moment. Bring your full attention to the process. Acknowledge anything that you need to let go of in order to be present.

Try on new ideas, perspectives … as well as concepts and experiences that are different than your own. Be willing to open up to new territory and break through old patterns. Remember, “try on” is not the same as “take on.”

It’s OK to disagree… Avoid attacking, discounting or judging the beliefs and views of others. Discounting can be verbally or non-verbally. Instead, welcome disagreement as an opportunity to expand your world. Ask questions to understand the other person’s perspective.

Confidentiality…There is another dimension of confidentiality that includes “asking permission” to share or discuss any statement another person makes of a personal nature. It helps to remember that the story belongs to the teller.

Step up, step back… Be aware of sharing space in the group. If you are person who shares easily, leave space for others to step into. Respect the different rhythms in the room, it is ok to be with silence. If you are a person who doesn’t speak often, consider stepping forward and sharing your wisdom and perspective.

Self awareness… Respect and connect to your thoughts, feelings and reactions in the process. Be aware of your inner voice and own where you are by questioning why you are reacting, thinking and feeling as you do. Monitor the content, the process and yourself.

Check out assumptions…This is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and others; do not “assume” you know what is meant by a communication especially when it triggers you – ask questions.

Practice “both/and” thinking… Making room for more than one idea at a time means appreciating and valuing multiple realities (it is possible to be both excited and sad at the same time) – your own and others. While either/or thinking has it place it can often be a barrier to human communication.

Intent is different from impact… and both are important. It is also important to own our ability to have a negative impact in another person’s life despite our best intention. In generous listening, if we assume positive intent rather than judging or blaming, we can respond, rather than reacting or attacking when negative impact occurs.

Listen deeply …Listen with intent to hear, listen for the entire content and what is behind the words. Encourage and respect different points of view and different ways of communicating. Engage heart and mind — listen with alert compassion.

Speak from the “I”…is speaking from one’s personal experience rather than saying “we,” it allows us to take ownership of thoughts, feelings and actions.

            Source: Laurin Mayeno and Elena Featherston, 2006 Adapted from VISIONS, Inc.