In my work environment, there are different groups of people that I relate with – children, colleagues with diverse nationalities and age-range, families from different countries in the South Asian region, and co-workers with different educational backgrounds.
When I engage in conversations with the different members of my working community, I take into consideration the context of the roles of the people, as well as their personalities and gender. When I speak to my colleagues from the host country, I talk to them about their country – my new experiences. I also try to use the opportunity to get to know them as well as their country. It is a different dimension when I speak with the overseas teachers. Usually, we talk about countries where we have worked and the countries they will visit in the next holiday. However, with the more mature and senior members in the community, I am more guarded with the way I say things making sure that I am respectful towards them. The context of our conversations is usually about school operations. The staff that I hardly know is a usual greeting and a smile. When talking with parents, I wear another hat making sure that I represent the school well. Being with the children is my most favorite interaction. The conversations are free flowing, with the children asking me questions or the other way around.
My communication approach with every group can be similar, but still varied, as I tend to have more lengthy conversations with women than men. There are parents whom I seem to be more comfortable conversing with than the others. In my general communication, I try my best not to talk about religion or country politics, as I am not sure if I am representing views that may be opposed to others. I am careful not to slight anybody knowing the diverse religious affiliations of the community members – from Muslim to Hindu and Christian.
Given all these considerations, I sometimes still fail in my communication. When I am too absorbed about my personal affairs, I forget the context of the person I am communicating with. I could be too direct that I could make another person uncomfortable or talk about things that they cannot connect with. Learning more about communication made me realize that there are still many things that could make my interaction with others better. To apply the platinum rule – do unto others as you would have others do unto you is a primary approach to establishing a positive communication with people from all walks of life. This approach encompasses understanding the contexts of others and making sure that we keep an open-mind to the different perspectives they present. Corollary to this approach is developing an intercultural communication where I take into consideration one’s perception, culture, identity, personality and communication style. Having the background knowledge about these components would be helpful to understand their habits, emotions, and intentions (Beebe, et. Al., 2011). A third approach that complements the first two is the ability to appreciate cultural differences (Gonzalez-Mena, 2010). It is being able to see the lens of others as I recognise mine to be able to come up with the third culture if necessary. Thus, the success of communication is not only about awareness of my culture and those of others and intending to establish a positive intent to communicate, but also the willingness to accept differences so that I could build the mindset of tolerance and inclusivity.
Gonzalez-Mena, J. (2010). 50 strategies for communicating and working with diverse families. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., & Redmond, M. V. (2011). Interpersonal communication: Relating to others (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.