Not every situation is easy to talk about. Especially when getting used to another culture and facing culture shock, we encounter so many different things that catch us off guard. Things we thought we knew about suddenly don't make sense anymore. Some things are easy to talk about; while others are not so easy to find the answers to. How can we start conversations about sensitive topics?
8 tips to get you started:
Tips on coaching, teaching, or discussing sensitive subjects:
Ask the person to identify their impressions of the culture as a starting point.
Ask the person to identify social gaffes they have witnessed or made.
Just do it - Preparing Hands-On Demonstrations
Find Common Ground or Reference Points
Blame it on the Culture (aka "It's our culture.")
Use Pop Culture Reference
Use a coach, trainer or teacher of the same gender
Learn from Scratch
While utilizing these tips, keep in mind that deploying them with the correct communication skills is key. Use of appropriate verbal and non-verbal culturally sensitive communication strategies is a big part of the key to effectively delivering these messages. Learning about the situation from their point of view while helping them adjust the best possible way is key. Use of empathy, sympathy, listening skills and understanding through the use of many questions is key.
Often sensitive subjects such as religion, race, hygiene, sexuality (sexual harassment, eve teasing, etc), and others are hard to broach. But, depending on the cultural environment you find yourself in abroad, topics may need to be discussed to help you figure out how to find comfort in a new place. I hope some of these tips can help you to start to find the answers you are looking for.
Authentic Journeys provides confidential, personalized, one-on-one corporate coaching to help global business professionals excel and solve cross-cultural blunders such as saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, or building rapport in difficult situations. We can also work together on delicate topics of diversity, race relations at work, and inclusion. Contact us for more information.
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