Establishing solid friendships with people who look, think and act like us can be difficult enough, but what about making friends from other backgrounds or cultures? Bridging the gap with someone outside our homogeneous surroundings can be frightening and formidable. This article discusses tips on how to build cross-cultural relationships.Avoid an Ethnocentric AttitudeThe first tip to developing solid cross-cultural friendships is to avoid being too ethnocentric. All cultures have good and bad aspects. In order to gain the respect of someone from another culture, it is important to develop an accurate view of your own culture including the good, the bad, and the ugly. Americans are notorious for going abroad and sharing about how American ways are so much better than the ways of the host country. This type of ethnocentric babble is a huge turn off and will result in disgust and disdain rather than friendship. A better way is to be humble and look for best of both cultures.Be Curious and Open-mindedInstead of talking so much about your own background and culture, take an interest in the ways and ideas of your new friend’s neighborhood or country. This means to be curious and open-minded. Ask questions and then be quiet and listen to the answers. Ask about their families and their customs. Get out of your comfort zone and try their favorite foods and visit their favorite places. When you curtail the need to live within your comfort zone, you will be able to be adventurous and gain greater insights into other practices from other parts of the world. You must also decide in advance to be willing to appreciate the differences you discover. Being curious and open-minded will open the way for a long-term cross-cultural friendships.Be GraciousWhen you begin making friends with someone outside of your culture, sometimes you will come up against practices with which you cannot agree. In cases like this, it is okay to not participate; however, you should always be gracious and courteous. Too often people choose to turn up their noses and become self-righteous or arrogant in reaction to a weird custom or practice in another culture. The best thing to do is to be calm and realize that if you had been reared in that culture you would have done it, too. When you are gracious, folks from other lands will appreciate you and want to be your friend.Share a Meal with ThemIn order to build strong cross-cultural relationships, invite your new acquaintance to share a meal with you. Food plays an important role in the lives of people from all walks of life. Taking the time to enjoy lunch or dinner with your new prospective friend will go a long way towards developing a long-term friendship.Be PatientFinally, be patient. This potential friendship may not transpire overnight. They don’t know you. They don’t know your intentions. They probably won’t just say, “Okay! Let’s be friends!” It will take time for their hearts to thaw and trust you. So be patient. Don’t force the issue. If you are consistently kind and open to them and their “funny” ways they will warm up to you and you will have a lifelong friendship.Developing cross-cultural relationships is not easy. This article has discussed five tips to establishing friendships with people from all walks of life.
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