Generally, in the Pacific Northwest where I lived, people walk downtown or in a neighborhood greeting each other, at least with a glance. Usually, that is an entirely different type of experience than living in an urban Midwest or on the east coast populated environment. These different parts of the United States of America (USA) can create a level of shock as if one would saw Santa in a raincoat! It can be a real shocker!
I have not been to a European country. So, attending to and maintaining a respectful curiosity attitude as a guest will be my aim. “Though people may have a gruff exterior, you can usually melt it very quickly by approaching in a courteous, friendly, and sincere manner.” If my experiences lend me to see things one way, I will need to respect my context and be a learner. As a visitor, if I do happen to encounter new behaviors as if Santa was in a raincoat, I will need to seek to understand versus merely trying to be understood. My intercultural experiences lend me to believe that everyone wants to be respected and loved.
“Fundamentally, it’s the realization that I am different from them rather than the other way around.” One will experience this when living in the suburbs and ministering in the hood or visiting another country. I think the author is seeking to help his reader understand that when we visit the culture of someone else that we are guests.
I believe everyone would probably agree, that maintaining a learner position; however, we communicate, particularly in intra-continental, cross-cultural, or when visiting another country. So, the big question is, what type of communication structure does one need to have to enhance the effectiveness of the communication process, or, increase the successful flow of accurate information. Exchanging information and transmission of communication will be more effective if we do some study of the culture we are to visit. Also, before we try to determine useful communication strategies, we need to assess our own communication needs and capacities. For example, some online interactions are written disrespectfully, regardless if it is an international experience. Having a forgiving attitude will make a way to a better relationship. Maybe questioning our purpose to communicate would help us become more respectful communicators.
Possible questions to consider asking oneself:
- Why am I communicating? What is the purpose?
- Who will receive my message? What do I know about these people?
- Where will they be when they get this message? When?
- What do I want to say? What do they need to know?
- How shall I communicate? Write, phone, personally?
To avoid miscommunications, it is advisable to have the other person repeat the message back. Repeating back what they said or heard will help the sender confirm that we listened to their position. Proverb 18:17, “We are to be careful to hear a matter before we answer.” Active listening is the practice of repeating to the person what they have said or heard. This may be the tool for solving the problem others might feel by another. Prov. 18:13, “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.” James 1:19, “But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak.” Orin wrote, “About the only thing that gets challenged nowadays is your patience.”
Effective communication and understanding depend on us being learners and listeners. When one seems to voice a complaint about our misunderstanding because we are from another country, we need to respect the culture by asking for clarification. This tactic will allow the other party to know that what they said was valuable and we are seeking to hear them correctly. Being an investigator instead of a judge and jury will help us make sure we fully understand the other. I mean, “Was that Santa in a raincoat I experienced, or did I have an inappropriate attitude as a guest?” I have heard it said that we ought to seek to be understood versus trying to only be understood.
 Orin Hargraves, CultureShock! London, Marshall Cavendish Corporation, (Location 242) Kindle Edition.
 Terry Tan, CultureShock! Great Britain, Marshall Cavendish Corporation, (Locations 185-186), Kindle Edition.
 Orin Hargraves, CultureShock! London, Marshall Cavendish Corporation, (Locations 3578-3579), Kindle Edition.