Building Bridges And Trust Across Cultural Boundaries

Rowan Blair Colver
3 min readMay 23, 2022


Lucid Leadership by Rowan B. Colver

Culture Shock

Whether it’s mods and rockers or East and West, people have a variety of cultures that help to define who they are. The media that people choose and the education they were given help to provide fundamental thinking that their lifestyle is built around. It can be seen that people with different cultures can quickly fall into arguments and disagreements based on the reasoning behind their tastes and choices. With passive-aggressive judgements about those who think differently sometimes being used as foundations for decision making, problems arise when expressing these thoughts to those who do think differently. Without thinking about how it might feel to be spoken about in this way, we repeat sometimes hurtful and narrow—minded thoughts that benefit our perspective and muddy theirs.

Leaders Navigate Difference For Cohesion

Teams and markets are naturally made up of a range of people. Often they come from different backgrounds and therefore have varying cultures. Religion and politics make up the majority of large differences where fashion and media fill in the spaces. Usually, people are used to working alongside varying differences and are able to get along. Leaders find themselves working with these issues the most when they are affecting change or growth. New situations and new ideas require strong leadership to ensure that everyone can move forward. No matter the culture or the list of priorities, in teams, groups, and communities, certain inherent human qualities are universally understood.

Trust And Respect

Trust is sometimes given as respect in the West. If we act like we do not trust a person, it can be seen as insulting. This is not how it works in the wide world, and we need to remember this. Respect is also something we take for granted. When someone is disrespectful we are usually angered and made to feel othered. Sometimes this isn’t how other people think and in other cultures, we can quickly find these things are not taken for granted at all. Clearly, when working with people or building new futures, we must have both of these things. Do not be surprised if you are tested to see if you have them. Be aware that you will be asked to show trust and respect and earn it for yourself in the majority of situations. This means you need to take part in the business and the social side of the agreement and allow the bonding process to take time to fully benefit the relationship. Be open and softly candid, laugh freely, and make friends. Show you can be mature around new ideas and different moral perspectives without overshadowing your own personality.

Competence And Quality

The other side of the equation rests with how good you are at your job and how quickly you learn new principles. Various cultures expect different customised results from the same basic service, the presentation and the frills depend on what the customer values. We as leaders need to be able to deliver a range of products and services that communicate competence and quality to those who look to us. Reputation plays a major role in this scenario. Word of mouth goes a long way toward gaining interest and credit from interested parties. The long-term effects of consistency pay off here, in which you may feel unrewarded at the time yet the reputation of your quality reaches beyond this one instance.

Recommended read: The Cultural Intelligence Difference: Master the One Skill You Can't Do Without in Today’s Global Economy



Rowan Blair Colver

Music writer and humanities educator from Sheffield in England. Democracy of philosophy, comments are welcome.