Over the years, several Rwandans have assimilated cultures of the different places they have lived in. More so, many today are working with multi-nationals at their workplaces and resultantly, are having a difficult time understanding the diversity of people as they interact.
Cultural awareness is very fundamental in a multicultural work environment. In most cases, cross-cultural differences can be a cause for conflict for it especially hinders effective communication. When every worker respects the dynamism that comes with multicultural values, it could uplift the performance and productivity of an organisation.
Cultural awareness training is one essential factor that could boost a conducive workplace environment as they foster good working relations.
For example, non-verbal communication in the some cultures like eye contact is interpreted as an indication of interest and honesty. In addition, friendliness can be shown through a relaxed body language; therefore, if the person does not show such signs during a conversation, they could be mistaken as elusive, cold, and disinterested.
Recently, a colleague bumped into his workmates at a supermarket, and then asked them if they were interested in meeting his best friend Billy, who was seated in their car in the parking lot. When they got there, the workmates were shocked to discover that Billy was a dog. These workmates were not amused by the encounter as their culture suggests that people could only hold a conversation with someone especially a fellow human being, who would respond in kind. They felt like it was an act of disrespect. However, one can’t blame either of them because they were all brought up in different cultural settings.
It is important for people to build their cultural knowledge by trying to learn other people’s cultures from different countries.
Information about other cultures is usually based on generalisations therefore one has to go deeper by talking directly to those people in that specific culture to get proof about the misconceptions and eventually do away with stereotypes.
Cultural differences can also create problems while trying to resolve a conflict. That is why it is important not to drag cultural differences into sensitive matters. In other words, an attitude towards authority also varies between cultures and it affects workplace behaviours—however with mutual respect, all could be great, even when attempting to hold an intelligent conversation with a pet animal.