Building relationships

Cross-cultural interaction and communication is a major factor in the quality of your working relationships.  Establishing effective working relationships tends to bridge cultural gaps and contribute to successful cross-cultural relationships. Other important factors include:

  • Understanding different cultural expectations regarding the roles of clients and co-workers, e.g. expecting workers to give direct instructions rather than allowing self-direction.
  • Recognition of different expectations regarding involvement of family members in the provision of client services. In some cultures, family members are expected to be involved in the process.
  • Understanding differences in help-seeking behaviour among various cultural groups and respecting a client’s choice of when to seek help and from whom.

In working with involuntary clients, workers should be aware of the need to reinforce terms of service delivery, taking in the potential for power struggles in relation to decision-making.

You also need self-awareness of your own cultural beliefs, biases and assumptions: avoid allowing such assumptions to affect interaction with clients and CALD co-workers. A lack of self-awareness is often the source of cultural bias and ethnocentrism, and may result in stigma, stereotyping and discrimination, all of which are likely to have a detrimental effect on working relationships.

Case study: Cultural needs of clients

Read the case study below and answer the question that follows. Enter your response into the text box provided.

A worker at a Women's Domestic Violence refuge gave an example of a Muslim client who was staying at the refuge. She refused to have her food in the same fridge in which meat was stored.

How might the refuge better meet the needs of Muslim clients?

Case study: Cultural needs of co-worker

Read the case study below and answer the question that follows. Enter your response into the text box provided.

The manager of a Disability service was considering a complaint against an ethnic direct care worker. The worker cited cultural reasons for refusing to shave residents, to cut the residents' hair or toenails in the evening, and would only do these activities in the daytime. This same disability service served fish on Good Friday.

What do you think is the outcome of this case, and why?

Last modified: Thursday, 3 November 2016, 11:47 AM