Why it’s Important to Refrain From Judging Someone From Another Culture

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Namaste! (Hello!)

I work at a Canadian college and last year we had a historically large influx of international students with the majority of them coming from India.

As I work in customer service with these students, I thought it would be of mutual benefit for me to research and identify their beliefs and values.

I discovered three main values of this group:

  • family
  • personal space
  • negotiating

Knowing these values will help influence my customer service interaction with members of this group and will be helpful to others prior to a customer service interaction.

The first value of this group is family

Unlike our culture in Canada, people in India respect the elderly and look to them for advice. Many generations may live together in one household along with other relatives.

Knowing this has helped me to understand and empathize with the fact that many international students travel great distances to come to college as they stay with extended family in other cities.

Being available via teleconference or email instead of a face-to-face meeting will help our customer service interactions.

The second value I discovered about this group is personal space

I’ve personally seen Indian students patting each other on the back as a sign of friendship and even holding hands while talking. With a patriarchal structure it’s not common for a man to shake hands with a woman although some Indian women may shake hands with women from the west.

This is helpful for me to know when introducing myself to an individual from this ethnic group; especially a male.

The third value of this group is negotiating

Indians like harmony and like to start meetings with small talk. They tend to avoid being straightforward in communicating and saying “no” is too direct and confrontational so if an Indian says ‘I will try’ it usually means ‘no’.

They also do not want to show anger. They are very polite and will address people by their professional title unless invited to use another name. I’ve had students address me as “Ma’am” and now realize this is actually a sign of respect.

Researching and learning about an ethnic group different from my own has helped me to be more empathetic and a better communicator.

I now know how to better handle customer service problems when dealing with a member of this ethnic group. I’ve learned to be more aware of my communication, use of nonverbal messages (including using my right hand to touch, accept or give something), and to appropriately adapt my message.

Additionally, I’ve learned it’s important to refrain from judging someone from another culture who is different from me as their beliefs and values may be different.


Culture And Heritage — Lifestyle Values And Beliefs. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://knowindia.gov.in/culture-and-heritage/lifestyle-values-and-beliefs.php

Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.commisceo-global.com/resources/country-guides/india-guide

Indian Values and Beliefs — Welcome to Indian Culture! (n.d.). Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/welcometoindianculture/home/ethnicity/indian-values-and-beliefs

Revel for Communication: Principles for Lifetime (n.d.). Retrieved from https://revel-ise.pearson.com/courses/5b981a11e4b0e616db7a8728/pages/aee7b37680264ee867e9372a76a15acbf6b79ecde?source=contents

(First featured on Medium platform December 30, 2020)

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