Cross Cultural Communication

Communicating across differences can be a key factor in a staff or faculty member's ability to teach, support, and guide students. Rockhurst's heritage in the Jesuit tradition values a richly diverse community.

  • Respect cultural differences — whenever possible, ask and listen for the student's cultural framework and perspective, and take time to learn more about specific cultures.
  • Be thoughtful about how your communication style might be interpreted by a student from another culture.
  • Consider how a history of racism, oppression, discrimination and stereotyping could affect how students perceives Rockhurst and your attempts to help them.
  • Validate and acknowledge the student's plight and pain — this need, while important for all students, is often accentuated in students who see themselves as culturally different.
  • Offer to help in specific ways — consider a direct and personal intervention in the case of system difficulties. For instance, make a phone call to help a student connect with another department or faculty member. Consider going with a student to introduce them to another department or resource on campus.
  • Automatically judge a student and their problems based on your own cultural norms — for example, a lack of eye contact in some cultures shows respect while in others it may communicate avoiding the truth. Also, forceful, loud, and expressive language in some cultures is intended to invite a strong and respectful dialogue; in others it can be viewed as hostile or disrespectful.
  • Make assumptions based on a student's cultural background — i.e., all Catholic students are alike.