One important aspect of developing intercultural competence is learning to delay judgment. When we are confronted with cultural differences it is common to pass quick judgment on those differences.

For example, what is your response if you heard that someone kicked a dog?

Do you immediately assume the person is a bad person?

Would your interpretation of this behavior change if you learned that this person is from a country where dogs always carry disease?

Would your interpretation of this behavior change if you learned that this person is from a country where dogs are not kept as pets and are usually vicious?

(Example from Figuring Foreigners Out by Craig Storti)

Whether we judge a culturally different behavior as good or bad, a quick judgment can lead us to reach a conclusion without checking to make sure we understand what we are judging.

Before passing judgment it is important to consider the possibility that something more might be going on than what we see or understand at first glance. It is an enormously valuable skill to be able to reserve judgment in the face of different or uncomfortable behaviors and to explore how those behavior might be interpreted differently with a bit more information and understanding.

Debbie

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