The Influence of Cultural Differences On Friendships

The Influence of Cultural Differences on Friendships


Friendships are important to everyone. They provide joy, support, and a sense of belonging. However, when people come from different cultures, their ways of thinking, behaving, and interacting might be different. Understanding these cultural differences can help build stronger and more respectful friendships. This article will explain how cultural differences influence friendships and provide tips on how to navigate these differences, especially for people with developmental disabilities.

What Are Cultural Differences?

Culture is a set of shared values, beliefs, customs, and behaviors that a group of people follow. Cultural differences mean that people from different backgrounds might have different ways of thinking and doing things. These differences can be in language, traditions, food, communication styles, and social norms.

Why Understanding Cultural Differences is Important in Friendships

  1. Respect and Acceptance: Understanding cultural differences helps us respect and accept our friends for who they are. It shows that we value their unique backgrounds.
  2. Better Communication: Knowing about cultural differences improves communication. We learn how to express ourselves in ways that our friends understand and feel comfortable with.
  3. Avoid Misunderstandings: Cultural differences can sometimes lead to misunderstandings. By being aware of these differences, we can prevent conflicts and maintain harmony in our friendships.
  4. Enriching Experiences: Friendships with people from different cultures can enrich our lives. We learn new perspectives, traditions, and ways of thinking.
  5. Building Stronger Bonds: Understanding and embracing cultural differences helps build stronger and more meaningful friendships.

How Cultural Differences Influence Friendships

  1. Communication Styles: People from different cultures might communicate differently. Some cultures value direct communication, while others might be more indirect. Understanding these styles helps avoid miscommunication.
  2. Social Norms: Different cultures have different social norms. For example, in some cultures, it’s common to hug friends, while in others, a handshake or a nod is more appropriate.
  3. Celebrations and Traditions: Friends from different cultures might celebrate different holidays and have unique traditions. Sharing and respecting these traditions can strengthen friendships.
  4. Food Preferences: Food is an important part of culture. Friends from different cultures might have different dietary preferences and restrictions. Being open to trying new foods and respecting food choices is important.
  5. Values and Beliefs: Cultural values and beliefs shape how we see the world. Understanding these values helps us respect our friends’ viewpoints and avoid conflicts.

Tips for Navigating Cultural Differences in Friendships

  1. Be Open-Minded: Be willing to learn about your friend’s culture. Ask questions and show interest in their traditions and customs.
  2. Communicate Clearly: Use simple and clear language. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. Be patient and willing to explain your own cultural practices.
  3. Show Respect: Respect your friend’s cultural norms and practices. Avoid making fun of or dismissing their customs.
  4. Be Patient: Understanding cultural differences takes time. Be patient with yourself and your friend as you learn and adapt to each other’s ways.
  5. Share Your Culture: Share your own cultural traditions and practices with your friend. This helps create a mutual understanding and appreciation of each other’s backgrounds.
  6. Celebrate Together: Celebrate each other’s cultural festivals and holidays. Participating in your friend’s cultural celebrations shows that you value their traditions.
  7. Find Common Ground: Focus on what you have in common. Shared interests and activities can help bridge cultural gaps and strengthen your friendship.

Activities to Understand and Embrace Cultural Differences

Engaging in activities together can help you understand and embrace cultural differences. Here are some simple activities to try with your friends:

  1. Cultural Exchange Nights: Have a cultural exchange night where you and your friends share music, food, and traditions from your cultures.
  2. Cook Together: Cook traditional dishes from each other’s cultures. This is a fun way to learn about and appreciate different cuisines.
  3. Attend Cultural Events: Go to cultural festivals, fairs, or events together. This gives you a chance to experience different cultures firsthand.
  4. Watch Movies: Watch movies or documentaries about each other’s cultures. Discuss what you learned and how it relates to your friend’s experiences.
  5. Learn a New Language: Learn a few basic phrases in your friend’s language. This shows respect and interest in their culture.
  6. Read Books: Read books about different cultures. Share your thoughts and discuss how the cultural aspects relate to your friend’s life.

Dealing with Cultural Misunderstandings

Sometimes, cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings. Here’s how to handle them:

  1. Stay Calm: If there’s a misunderstanding, stay calm and don’t get upset. Understand that it’s a part of learning about each other’s cultures.
  2. Talk About It: Have an open and honest conversation about what happened. Explain your perspective and listen to your friend’s side.
  3. Apologize if Needed: If you’ve hurt your friend’s feelings, apologize sincerely. Show that you care about their feelings and want to make things right.
  4. Learn and Adapt: Use the misunderstanding as a learning opportunity. Learn from it and adapt your behavior to avoid similar issues in the future.
  5. Seek Help: If you’re having trouble resolving a cultural misunderstanding, seek help from a trusted adult, teacher, or counselor. They can offer guidance and support.


Cultural differences can influence friendships in many ways. By understanding and respecting these differences, you can build stronger, more meaningful relationships. Be open-minded, communicate clearly, and show respect for your friend’s culture. Engage in activities that help you learn about each other’s backgrounds and celebrate your cultural diversity. Remember, everyone has unique cultural experiences to share, and embracing these differences can lead to enriching and lasting friendships.