How do you Change Your LENS?

In intercultural encounters, when you find yourself confused, frustrated, or curious, Change Your LENS:     

L ook objectively & L ist what occurred:

What happened?

Describe it, and take note of judgmental words (i.e., rude, awful, irritating) or stereotypes.

If there is negativity, eliminate judgmental words, and describe the encounter or event objectively.


For example, instead of saying “the waiters here are so rude and have terrible customer service,”

Describe it as, “the waiters don’t respond quickly and don’t check on me regularly.”

E xamine your assumptions & E xplore inside:

Why did you feel the way you did?

What are the expectations, habits, and beliefs that led you to view the encounter or event as you did?

Be introspective and describe your attitudes.


For example, “I think waiters should serve customers as soon as they sit down, offer them water and drinks, check on them regularly, and give them the check as soon as finished.”

“I expect efficiency and speed so I can eat and leave.”

N ote other possibilities & N udge yourself to grow:

What other values, habits, and beliefs might be at work here?

Be open-minded and curious. Empathize. Retell the story from another person’s perspective. Consider the ways the incident is more complex than you initially realized.


For example, you may consider, “maybe in this culture it is disrespectful to hurry people in their meals, or to intrude on people’s conversations, or to pressure people to order and eat.”

S ubstantiate with locals & S eek out more:

Is this their truth?

Use your observation, intercultural communication skills, critical thinking skills, and people skills. Ask locals or bicultural people if the new ideas you have generated are accurate, or if there are other parts of the culture you have overlooked.

What else does this make you want to explore? How does this change you and your behaviors, mindsets, and thoughts?


For example, you can watch other patrons of the restaurant. How do they interact with the waiters?

Or you can ask friends, colleagues, guides, or staff to confirm your new ideas.

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