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15 Hacks For Inter-Cultural Lovers

15 Hacks For Inter-Cultural Lovers

A Norwegian friend of mine once told me how he had to pass a very severe test before he was accepted by the parents of his Italian wife. He had to stay in a hotel and was invited to various meals, where he was vetted. As well as coping with the language barrier, he had to display an understanding of Italian cultural values as regards marriage and family. Fortunately, he passed the test and yes, they are living happily ever after!

Now that was easy, really. Consider where two lovers come from very different racial backgrounds and where religion, ethics, family values and beliefs about marriage will, sooner or later, be present on the stage. But, before you even reach that point, let us look at what hacks you can put into practice so that the relationship will be on a much firmer foundation.

1.  Learn about the culture

There is no shortcut here. You really have to do your homework. You can ask each other about the family background and the values that were instilled in childhood. But you also have to find out a lot more by reading, watching films and getting down to the very core values that determine life attitudes in your partner’s country.

2. Speak the language

This is essential if one partner lacks confidence in the other’s language. Communication will be key in understanding attitudes, beliefs, political views, opinions, and values. Very often, these are tied to the language by having words, expressions and idioms which reflect their world view perfectly.

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3. Talk about religion

You may be an atheist, very religious or something in between. The problem is that there is often a clash when your partner has strong views which are based on a religious upbringing which will determine attitudes to sex, child rearing, religious practices and customs. Use your time together to explore these and try to understand where your partner is coming from.  If you are both from a much more secular background, this may make things less complicated. However, this does not remove the obligation to discuss these matters sincerely and honestly.

4. Be aware of pressure from outside the relationship

Very often, inter-racial and inter-cultural couples are perfectly at ease. It is when they encounter the prejudice of family and society, that problems may raise their ugly heads. There is some useful advice in an article mentioned in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. The best plan is to be prepared for this and also assess whether you can really cope with all that. Fortunately, things are moving in the right direction. In American society, according to the Pew Research Center, 1 in 12 marriages are now inter-racial.

5. Celebrate your differences

There may be customs and rites that should be celebrated together, rather than ignored. This can strengthen the relationship. There are some excellent stories about mixed couples who more or less coped with these issues in the book, ‘Guess who’s coming to dinner’ by Brenda Lane Richardson.

6. Fight stereotyping

Be prepared. There are commonly held views which make sweeping generalizations about different races and religions. Asian women are supposed to be very meek and submissive. Be on the alert for those friends who will spout all sorts of prejudices about races on the pretext of offering advice!

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7. Talk about how you would raise children

Many people are put off by the fact that any children they have may be bullied or discriminated against in some way. It is important to discuss this openly. If your relationship is sound, any children will benefit from a loving home and grow up to be mature, balanced adults. Being bi-racial will teach tolerance.

8. Adopt your partner’s culture

You may get a lot of indiscreet questions and sneering references such as going for the ‘jungle fever’ if you happen to be dating an African or that the Japanese are workaholics. The best questions are those that ask you what is the part of your partner’s culture or traditions that attract you most. Think about this and have your answer ready.

9. Broaden your horizons

A great way to explore your partner’s culture and traditions is to experiment and try ethnic dishes. It is a great way of bonding and can open up new horizons, while becoming an expert cook as well.

10. Travel and explore

Travelling to each other’s country is one of the greatest experiences ever. You get an inside view and understand much better your partner’s background and upbringing.

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11. Talk about what religion you would like your kids to have

Many inter-faith couples have to decide which faith their children should have.  They may decide to bring up their children in both faiths. The benefits may well override any concerns about confusion, as outlined in Susan Katz Miller’s book, called ‘Being Both – Embracing Two Religions In One Interfaith Family’.

12. Inter-cultural relationships make you stronger

Going into an inter-racial or inter-cultural relationship can be a challenge. It is an excellent training ground in that it makes you think of issues that may arise. The great advantage is that you are both able to cope with differences and obstacles and that can make the relationship so much stronger in the long run.

13. Show tolerance in your arguments

At times, there may be arguments and rows. The best advice is never resort to racial slurs or stupid prejudice against your partner, because of an issue about his/her background.

14. Think of human diversity

Learn to look ahead. Forget the racial and religious differences and look forward to a society which is not based so much on race, but on human diversity. Your children will learn to do the same when you set the example.

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15. Follow Kayne West’s advice

Kayne West has made no secret of the fact that the press hates his inter-racial relationship with Kim Kardashian. Follow his advice: ‘Write that… headline when you try to make me look like a maniac or an animal, because you afraid of inter-racial relationships, because you afraid of the future, because you afraid of a rapper that was raised by two educated parents.’

Let us know in the comments how you have coped successfully with an inter-racial or inter-cultural relationship.

Featured photo credit: Strange things are happening these days/Koshy Koshy via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

More Tips About Making Influence

Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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