What Are Some Tips for Dealing With Cultural Differences in the Workplace?

Staying informed about different cultures, being self-aware and paying attention to co-workers are three ways to successfully navigate cultural differences at work. Looking for common connections between different groups and trying to put oneself in another person's position can also help to avoid misunderstandings.

There are many books and online resources that discuss the ways gender, ethnicity and cultural background affect our society and its members. Becoming more aware of these factors is the first step in addressing them.

Everyone has his own ethnic identity, even if he is part of the majority of the population. Considering one's own background, as well as that of any friends and relatives from different cultures, helps people better understand similarities and differences.

Avoiding potentially controversial topics, such as religion, in favor of general topics such as families and hobbies, helps foster connections at work. Asking questions about food and sports in other countries helps to demonstrate an interest in different cultures.

Considering the difficulties someone may face if English is not his first language, and making an effort to include him in conversation, can help increase empathy at work. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Business leaders can lead by example to help others embrace cultural differences. They may recognize other cultures' holidays, host potluck lunches featuring different kinds of food, or even form a diversity committee to deal with any communication and inclusion issues.