If coaching is largely about shifting and expanding people’s perspectives in a way that they can translate into daily actions, then working with individual belief systems and assumptions is vital. Beyond these individual creeds, coaching has to explore the embedded collective paradigms, which feel to humans like the water that fish blissfully and obliviously swim in.
Integrating the cultural dimension into coaching is not only necessary to increase coaching’s validity and applicability in today’s intercultural environment.
It is also an opportunity to learn from alternative cultural perspectives about crucial areas such as communication, thinking, time, power, identity, purpose, organization, or territory. Bridging coaching and interculturalism leads to a more creative and global form of coaching.
Getting involved with someone from another culture is very exciting and rewarding. Your friend or your significant other may show you the colors of life you have never seen, make you hear the music you never thought existed, and open your mind in ways you never realized were possible. Yet there are times when both of you misunderstand each other’s customs and cultures, and there are times when you find it so difficult to communicate that you don’t even try. Coaching has been known to be the tool that helps relationships flourish and succeed, so feel free to get in touch.
“My friends here do not struggle as much as we do. But then again, they don’t have to synchronize two different sets of cultural and religious backgrounds. We often clash over specific issues, like food. It drives me crazy that she doesn’t even let me cook pork. I think our arguments have gotten worse since the birth of our daughter. We weren’t sure how to raise our kid. Whose traditions do we pass on?”
Misunderstanding in mixed marriages
Mixed marriages – marriages between people of different faiths, races, ethnicities and geographic regions – often face additional struggles and challenges than people from the same cultural background, conflicts often multiply… Experts point to three issues that frequently cause misunderstandings and fights:
COMMUNICATION STYLE: People are so oriented to psychological interpretation that when a wife feels her husband isn’t paying attention to her, she doesn’t realize it’s because he has a different way of listening or of being involved in the conversation,” she says. Depending on what culture people are from, they will differ in how loudly and quickly they speak, and how they argue, tease and listen.
PARENTING: couples are often shocked when they become parents and realize that they have very different perceptions of how kids should act. Specifically, discipline, expectation of appropriate gender behavior, types of toys and the teaching of manners are very much culturally derived.
FAMILY: disharmony can result from differing cultural attitudes toward the extended family.
Strategies for maintaining a loving intercultural relationship
How can intercultural couples cope and maintain a loving relationship when faced with multiple roadblocks? Here are some strategies:
- Learn all you can about your partner’s culture. Become familiar with his or her cultural and religion background with no obligation to change yourself or convert to the other’s style.
Negotiate and renegotiate dicey issues. Ideally, the time to discuss and make agreements about intercultural topics is before the wedding.
Communicate with in-laws. It is wrong to assume that older people are incapable of change or that they won’t talk about cultural issues.
Be tolerant. You need to allow for more than one right way of doing things.
As a parent, try to anticipate the knee-jerk reaction that you might have when your partner tries to promote his cultural ways or when your child adopts elements of your partner’s culture.
Recognize differences in conversation styles, become intercultural competent.
Be optimistic about your multicultural family – growing up in a bicultural family can offer children a rich background and lots of additional values.
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