How to Overcome Ethnocentrism

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Ethnocentrism burdens you with the belief that your culture, race and way of life is superior to those of others. It prevents understanding and incites conflict when actions and words are seen as threats rather than different ways of experiencing life. Overcoming this prejudice is necessary in a world where people must unite to prevail over such global challenges as climate change.

College classroom

1 Learn about other groups

Learn about other groups. This is the easiest way to discover that everybody, despite their culture, experiences the same joys and heartaches you do. Colleges promote this sensitivity with classes on various races and countries. Reading foreign books and newspapers offers this same insight.

Hausa friends

2 Make friends

Make friends. Friendship cuts through a lot of misconceptions simply because we see them as individuals rather than as collections of traits. An easy way to cultivate friends of different viewpoints is to volunteer for or join cultural clubs. For example, a Persian Club at a local university will have Iranian members while a Latino Business Association can consist of Mexicans.

Kenyan website

3 Browse foreign sites on the Internet

Browse foreign sites on the Internet. The Internet offers us the exact same resource available to foreigners. For instance, you can digest the same French news as a French citizen by browsing (see References). Want to see how Somalis view Americans? (see References.) Viewing these websites reveals valid, though different perceptions of the world.

Bollywood movie

4 Entertain yourself differently

Entertain yourself differently. The dramatic emotions highlighted by movies, television shows and music can make us feel exactly what foreigners feel, increasing our empathy for them. Celebrate life's passages Indian-style by renting a Bollywood movie. Taste the Brazilian view of romance by listening and dancing to a sultry samba.

San Francisco synagogue

5 Attend services from another religion

Attend services from another religion. Start with different flavors of your belief. For example, a Christian can attend Baptist, Lutheran and Methodist services. You can then continue with different religions: a Catholic can attend Muslim daily prayers or a Buddhist can visit a Jewish synagogue. Despite not professing your faith, these worshipers revel in a rich spiritual life.

Airline travel

6 Travel

Travel to different cultures grants knowledge through sight, sound, touch and smell. You discover first-hand that people flourish with societies, customs and cultures that have nothing to do with your own. Different ways of living can produce happy and productive lives.

Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.