I hope you have embraced the 7 Helpful Attitudes and the 7 Keys to Learning Culture. The right attitude and knowledge are both good.  But effectively engaging and solving problems requires adapting and adjusting behavior in real time.  The following 7 Actions for Engagement are practical things that you can do in an intercultural encounter.

  1. Adapt behavior – Many intercultural encounters require someone to flex, adjust and adapt in order to accommodate differences. While it may be necessary for others to make the adjustment, your effort to adapt first is likely to pave the way for them to do the same.
  2. Plan Interactions – Learning some of the basic customs and planning to use some culturally appropriate behaviors can enhance connection, show respect and raise the probability that you will understand and be understood. 
  3. Cultural Participation – It is fun and very beneficial to participate in cultural events, holidays and celebrations. Taste the food, play the games, take in the music, engage in the activities. Doing so can enrich your understanding of the unique beauty of another culture and build trust.
  4. Develop New Social Conventions – It can be very meaningful to use appropriate greetings and social customs.  For example, learn to bow as a greeting, instead of shaking hands where that is the norm. Look for cues about basic manners and etiquette and practice them as you are able.
  5. Check for Accuracy – Don’t commit “assumicide.” It can be very important to verify and make certain that you are not acting on false assumptions or incorrect understanding.
  6. Foreign language ability – We often interact with people who have learned English as a second language. Adjusting how you communicate will be greatly appreciated. Speak slowly and avoid idioms. (For a good resource for using simple vocabulary visit http://splasho.com/upgoer5/)
  7. Learn from Mistakes – You will mess up and make mistakes.  Everyone does.  It helps to not take yourself too seriously.  Forgive yourself, and others, for embarrassing blunders.  Each one is an opportunity to learn.

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