Meenal Patel, Licensed Professional Counselor

Marriage has been around for a very long time, but now interracial marriages are becoming more common than before. People are more open with expanding their horizons and meeting people of different cultures and also starting families with them. In marriage, often times, not only is one person marrying another, the concept of families connecting is also becoming truer. But how do you learn how to communicate with parents and even families of a different culture than your own?

Confidence

Be open to communicating with people that you might not know. Being confident in what you know, especially about your own culture. Try to inquire about theirs (more about asking questions later) but being honest in what you know and trying to really engage in with what you know.

Show Interest

Culturally differences really entice a lot of us, but even when you’re not interested, try to pay attention. Often times, individuals enjoy speaking about themselves and what they know and are comfortable with, so using that to show interest in what they talk about. If you show interest in what they talk about, they will also be interested in what you have to say.

Open-Ended Questions

Open ended questions are a trick that therapists often utilize to get people to talk. By asking a question starting with ‘tell me about’ or ‘how’ can help you and them understand about cultural differences. With open ended questions, your goal is to get them to answer the question in not just one word.

Learn

Learning about their backgrounds is important to learning about them and being more culturally aware. If we learn how to listen, then other people will feel more comfortable in talking to you. They will also feel a sense of connection with you that you will not have to do a lot of the hard work in getting to know them.

Step Out of Comfort Zones

Not everything that you do will feel comfortable. Step out of your own boundary and what makes you feel comfortable. Being in uncomfortable situations makes engage with people and try new things. If you’re looking into learning a culture or are dating someone that’s of a different culture, see what are things that you can do for yourself that make you feel uncomfortable. Even if it’s food, a place of worship, a holiday, a festival, anything.

Small Steps

Baby steps throughout this process is the most important. There are so many things that we tend to rush and want answers and to be able to just do what we think is best but taking that time to understand and reflect. This is all done by baby steps. You don’t need to know everything on your first go or about the people that you’re with. Allow yourself to grow and grow at your own pace instead if anyone else’s.

Be Honest

If you do not understand something that someone from a different culture is speaking to you about, be honest with them about what you are not understanding. Ask them questions to show you are interested. If you do not agree with them, in a gentle way, express that to them and so there is a clear line of communication between both of you.

If you feel like you are struggling with understanding how to communicate or connect with individuals of another culture, reach out to our culturally competent therapists to learn skills to help you become more averse to others.