Building Relationships in a New Culture

 Ross and Richard cooking the meat at a "Funday" braai for Future Stars.

Ross and Richard cooking the meat at a "Funday" braai for Future Stars.

Building relationships can be an intimidating venture in a culture that you know well. Trying it in a new culture can be like a comedy of errors! We definitely don't have all of the answers to the complex realm of relationships, but in this blog, we share a few things we've learned along the way. 

1. Communicate

When we think of communication we often think of what we say, rather than what we hear. Listening is a vital part of good communication as we learn to hear not only the words being spoken but also the non-verbal messages that accompany them. A simple way to avoid miscommunication, especially in a culture with which you are unfamiliar, is clarification.

Clarification is the practice of repeating what you have heard the speaker say to ensure that you understand the essential meaning they are trying to get across. This allows the speaker to clear up any confusion the listener may have as well as opens the door for the speaker to expound on the initial topic. Communication can either be a tool used to destroy or to build up a fragile new relationship. How it's used is up to you!

2. Keep Your Word

Keeping your word is always important, but it's especially important in the context of a new relationship. When you keep your word consistently you build trust. Trust is one of the basic foundations of a relationship. It can help you to communicate more clearly and allows you to be open and honest in your thoughts and actions. Trust can translate into dependability as you keep your word time and time again. When people find you to be dependable, relationship becomes a natural bi-product.

3. Give Yourself a Break

If you find yourself discouraged in the process of building relationships, take courage! Nothing is wrong with you. Relationship building just takes time, and that's okay. Get in the Word, find something you love to do alone, and schedule consistent time with an accountability partner or counselor to help you move through the transition season that comes with a new culture and building new relationships. Give yourself so much grace!

We hope these insights can be useful to you as you build relationships. We would love to know what you have found to be helpful, not harmful, in both long and short-term missions. Feel free to leave us a comment below!