Here is a brief piece of advice that will help you when connecting with someone who may be outside your culture or ethnicity.
Believe it or not, we instinctively put forward pieces of information about ourselves in hopes of creating a bridge. Offers of information can be blocked or accepted. Think of this instinctive behavior as improvisational theater where actors attempt to create a coherent scene without rehearsal or a script. What keeps this form of theater coherent? Each actor accepts what he or she is offered. The principle can be expressed using the phrase “Yes, and..” That is, an improv actor accepts an offer and builds on it.
Here are some sample offers of information and how one can accept and build on them to create a bridge.
Offer: “I’m working on a new process for speeding transfers between manufacturing and shipping.”
Accepted: “It’s about time.” or “That should be interesting.”
Building: “Is there anyway I can help?” or “What part will be the most challenging part to implement?”
Offer: “I just moved here from Florida.”
Building: “How long did the move take you?” or “How do you organize such a major move?”
Remember, it’s not if you can connect, it’s what you can connect about.