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Openness, acceptance and trust. They sound a bit New Age maybe? Or perhaps they’re the catch-cry of the naive multi-culturalist? They’re actually the three personal characteristics that Elmer identifies in Cross-Cultural Connections that are fundamental to successful cross-cultural adjustment.
Elmer’s really upfront about the fact that in cross-cultural situations you will face frustration, confusion, tension and embarrassment. You will. But he suggests that if you can enter into those situations with openness, acceptance and trust you are more likely to observe closely, listen intently and inquire genuinely about what happened.
In contrast, if you walk into a cross-cutural setting fearful, suspicious and stubbornly holding onto the way you like things done, then he pretty much guarantees that you will be full of criticism for the new culture and will tend to withdraw into yourself (or a community of similar people).
I like the framework. I like the fact that these characteristics don’t necessarily mean having to give up your own culture. Although if you’re acting this way I think you’ll be prone to picking up new ways of doing things, I also think that openness, acceptance and trust are things you can really only do when you have a pretty strong sense of self, of your value and purpose. So, these characteristics aren’t about making you into something else in order to connect with others but help you transcend the barriers between yourself and others from where you already are.