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Mutual Understanding

We do not always recognize our own prejudices toward those from cultures different from our own. Sometimes, the only way to eliminate such prejudices is to get to know and understand each other by working closely over a long period of time.

Fernand. When Fernand went to work for a furniture company right out of high school, he had a real drive to achieve. It took him only two years to work himself up from a warehouse worker to the top delivery person. Fernand seemed to get along well with everyone. Then came the day his assistant, also of Philippino descent, resigned and Cedric, an African American, was assigned to him. Immediately, Fernand recalled the many fights between the two cultures in high school and figured he might have a challenge ahead of him. Cedric also was nervous about having a Philippino boss, wondering if he would receive fair and equitable treatment.

How did the relationship turn out? For a month there was little communication, but slowly the two came to know and understand each other’s culture. Fernand talked a lot about his family. Cedric talked about his interest in sports and why he was going to college at night. Eventually, a strong relationship developed. When Fernand was given a promotion to the head of the shipping department, he strongly recommended Cedric as his replacement. The fears based upon old high school conflicts had dissipated, and a mutually rewarding relationship had been built.


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