Do you have a close relationship with someone that comes from a different cultural background to you? Relational connection with the people we love the most can be challenging. When cultural differences are present in a close relationship, the difficulties multiply.
Intercultural relationships have challenging dimensions that may confuse us. Imagine your best friend, Sara, lives near her parents, brothers, and sisters. She sees them almost daily and they stop by regularly and often stay for meals. Sara is the oldest of four, so she carries a deep sense of obligation and loyalty to her family. She is expected, as the eldest child, to care for them generously. Frequently, her brother asks her to help him with his kids, and Sarah rearranges her schedule to accommodate him (and often cancels her plans with you). What would you say to Sarah about the overwhelming responsibility she feels towards her family? Would you suggest she is being taken advantage of and should learn to apply some boundaries?
Whether you grew up in a different culture from your parents or have friends and colleagues from other cultures, you can feel the distance cultural differences can create. However, when we are willing to do the relational work to bridge that gap, it leads to a deeper more rewarding relational connection.
A relationship between two people of distinct cultures is cross-cultural because there are two unique self-cultures at play. Inter-Cultural Intelligence can give you a running start on building a successful cross-cultural relationship. ICI provides tools and a framework to build a connection and an understanding of how to respond when cultural differences arise.
How do you really take your cross-cultural relationships to the next level? Cultivate a deep curiosity about that person with whom you’re building a relationship.
One of the most powerful tools to strengthen intercultural relationships is CURIOSITY. Genuine curiosity about the other person’s culture, language, history, and background will create a fertile landscape for deeper conversations and connections.
The second key to building a culturally agile relationship is intentionality. Cultural gaps in relationships mean that relational intentionality is especially important. For example, when working on communication in a relationship, it is not enough to simply be completely honest with each other. There needs to be a recognition of what that honesty means from a cultural perspective. Is indirect communication perceived as dishonest? Is direct communication considered harsh? What should healthy communication look like in this relationship?
By engaging in cross-cultural relationships with curiosity and intentionality, we create strong and resilient relationships. Go even deeper in understanding how to strengthen your intercultural relationships; join our upcoming Inter-Cultural Intelligence Certification.
If you want to develop your own cultural agility in every area of your life, get certified in Inter-Cultural Intelligence today.
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