What is cultural diversity?

You may be wondering: What is cultural diversity? Cultural diversity is about
how two or more people communicate. It is also about the way in which people
communicate, based on their culture differences.

In some cultures people may communicate by avoiding eye contact as it is
seen as a sign of respect. However in other cultures, giving eye contact means
giving attention.

It is important to acknowledge that different groups of people will communicate
in different ways. This is according to Sneha Khilay, who has over 14 years
experience in supporting teams and organisations in promoting cultural
awareness and diversity.

What type of differences does this cover? According to Sneha, cultural
diversity covers a number of differences. These differences may be in relation to
attitudes, gender differences, beliefs, values and status differences. All these
differences would fall under the umbrella of cultural diversity.

In this engaging video presentation, Sneha Khilay offers tips for dealing with
cultural diversity.

1. Make use of your observation skills

It is very important to observe the body language of the person you are talking
to. Be sure to notice their behaviour as well as the manner in which they are
interacting with you. You should try to 'mirror and match', their body language.
This will greatly assist in building a better rapport when you are communicating.

2. Appreciate differences

Some cultures have a tendency to behave differently. What may be seen as
'polite' in one culture may be viewed as 'derogatory' in another culture. It is
important to appreciate the differences.

A good example is that in India time keeping, is not regarded as very important.
People are very laid back and are not too bothered about time. However in
Switzerland if you are a minute late, it is considered to be a serious insult.

It is highly important to learn how to appreciate peoples differences. It is crucial
to become adaptable.

3. Don't assume

Just because a person is from a specific country, this does not mean you should
automatically assume that they will behave like everyone else. It is very
important to respect each persons individuality and sense of autonomy. It is
very important to not make assumptions and to acknowledge each individuals
personal value system and beliefs.

4. Patience

Cultural diversity is also about patience. It is extremely important to be aware of
the fact that in different countries people may take longer or slower to

The fundamental tip is to have patience with people who
may be different to you.

What do you think?

Do we all have the skills to respect other cultures? Or do they have to be
taught? Do we have an advantage being South African, as our country has
always been a mix of cultures? Or does our legacy of not communicating well still
plague us?