We live in a diverse country as well as a diverse world. Often we think that others should speak like us and understand us and know what we’re talking about and, unfortunately, that’s not really the case.

When you’re in a position of leadership it’s your responsibility to go that extra mile in trying to both understand your employees and their needs while making sure they understand yours. It can be even more critical when cultures are different and something you say that almost everyone understands is lost on one or a few other people who you’re responsible for.

Here are some valid tips you can follow to help you make sure you giving it your best shot when trying to smooth out communications between yourself and anyone, whether the audience is diverse or not:

1. Listen – Don’t think you know what someone is about to say and already be forming your response. Listen fully to what someone is saying and then think of your response to it. Way too often I hear people giving responses to their perception, not what someone said.

2. Watch – What someone says sometimes differs from their body language. If you’ve turned away, or if you’re not taking in all of a person, you may think you’re on the same page when you’re not.

3. Don’t be afraid to counsel employees – This is why you have the elevated position title. If you don’t embrace leadership don’t take the position. If someone isn’t pulling their weight or is messing up, you can’t act like it’s not happening if you don’t want total dissension.

4. Don’t treat everyone equally; treat everyone fairly – There’s a major difference between equality and fairness because it assumes everyone is at the same educational level, and that’s almost never the case.

5. Limit outside influences within the workplace as much as possible – While you need to be cognizant of other people’s beliefs and lifestyles, none of it can be allowed to disrupt the office. If there’s the possibility that someone might object, don’t allow it.

6. Talk to everyone – Reality says that there will be people you like and dislike more than others. Leadership means you treat everyone fairly, which means you communicate as much with those you like and dislike. If they’re disruptive get rid of them.

7. Learn not to be reactionary – Sometimes we react to what’s immediately going on without knowing what led up to the issue. It’s always possible that it was your fault or the fault of someone else that led to an incident. Always investigate and make decisions from an educated background unless there’s a blatant issue that warrants immediate action.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about someone else’s culture – There are stupid questions and then there’s genuine interest that can be shown in someone’s background that’s different from your own. People love talking about themselves and giving them the opportunities helps both of you get closer to a real understanding of each other.

9. Work on finding advancement opportunities for all people – Sure, most people never want to advance into management but many do, or want to advance in their careers. The better trained people are the better you look, no matter what happens, and the better the department runs. Always look out for the interest of others as much as yourself.

10. Let people see your “human” side – It’s okay to be happy and be sad every once in a while. It’s okay to share a touching story as long as it’s not indecent. It’s okay to greet people, no matter who they are. Be real; everyone appreciates it.

11. Remember who’s in charge – When all is said and done you’re the one with the title. If there’s no middle ground you make the decision and you stick by it. If you’re well reasoned and your topic is well researched, no one will ever fault you for your decision because it’s probably going to work.

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