Through a recent dialogue I have been having online (with someone who is trying to convert me to their world view) – I have more clearly got an idea for what I think is a more helpful mindset and approach to intercultural or interfaith communication. It is a sensitive issue, and I am sure I have made tons of mistakes already in my attempts to build trust and collaboration among different people – so I am very curious what your thoughts are too.

The ideal in my mind is if people go into a situation/conversation/collaboration with the idea that the two or more people (with different perspectives and from different backgrounds) can come up with a better solution than either could on their own. So, in practical terms, that Africans and Europeans, Chinese and Americans, Mormons and Catholics, Muslims and Hindus, Men and Women, etc., etc., etc. (or any number of combinations) working together could come up with a better overall solution than either could on their own.

I now realize that some things help foster the effective collaboration of people with different perspectives, while other things make it very difficult. I’m curious what you think too.

Here is just one thought –

What to do: If the situation is set to invite each person to go into the conversation looking for what the strengths of the other persons perspectives are, and searching for how the best in what the other person believes/perceives can be utilized to the overall benefit of the relationship – that seems to help inspire trust and make for healthy productive collaborations – where a lot of open and interesting learning and innovation can occur.

What not to do: If, on the other hand, either party begins the conversation by feeling it their duty to try and prove something (either the superiority of their own perspective or the faults in the other persons perspective) – assuming the world would just be better if everyone saw things the same way that they did – I think this pushes the conversation into a situation that is less than helpful. I think it is very helpful and healthy to talk about differences and alternative perspectives (especially after a core of trust and respect has been established) – but this ethnocentric/condescending approach (consciously or unconsciously assuming the world would be better if everyone saw things the same way as you) seems to:

  1. – push the conversation into defensive mode, where each party begins to look for the flaws and holes in the others approach/perspective,
  2. – closes off the participants to a greater richness of life that comes from seeking to learn, love, and listen, with no strings attached.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree/disagree?

What do you think helps for the most productive interfaith/intercultural communication and collaboration?

Differences in Perception, Logic, Reasoning