Born in India, home to 350+ languages and 1500+ dialects, I got exposure to so called “cultural diversity” very early on in life. In my growing years, having people who did not speak my language was a very common phenomenon. In India, every region has its own diverse culture, people’s sensitivities change drastically as you go from North to South. It was such a way of life, that I never had to make an extra effort to connect with people. I somehow believed that everyone is different in some way, and attributed the difference to individual uniqueness rather than their cultural background.
I hear so much talk about “Cultural diversity” these days. At times it can be a criteria on which a recruiter can reject you. But is this really such a big thing? Are we really that different? Are my needs different from that of a person coming from Europe or Africa or GCC? Don’t they need love like I do? Don’t they need respect like I do? Don’t they want to feel nice and special like I do? Don’t they need financial, emotional and social security like I do? Is their Maslow’s model different than mine?
Come to think of it, we all are the same, we all have a strong need to be loved, respected and cared. We all want to feel special. The differences which we see are all superficial – the way we dress up, the languages we speak, our openness, and the way we behave with strangers.
I meet/work with a lot of people from different countries/cultures like anyone else in Dubai. When we meet people we ask them multiple questions to find a common ground. If we are from the same country, finding common ground is easier. But it is not impossible to find common ground with others as well. A few things which work for me-
1. Do not box people based on their origin. Social stigmas are the biggest roadblock to making new friends. Have an open mind at all times.
2. Be conversant with current news. This can help you in having conversations around another person’s country. I remember I was in US recently and someone asked me if Britishers were still ruling India. I have never heard a more ignorant statement. So make sure you do not make such mistakes.
3. Be sincere as this helps in long term. Even if you are not an extrovert, people would see your sincerity and would connect with you.
4. Add value to people whenever you can. Everyone loves people who add value to their lives.
5. Compliment people and tell them why you are complimenting them. They would remember you always. Remember to be sincere in complimenting, no flattering.
6. Express gratitude at all times for their actions.
7. Respect everyone at all times.
It might take you a while to reach to people from other cultures, but a sincere effort and pure heart goes a long way. Check this video, an evidence that we are all the same.