There is a lot of discussion, thought and research spent on examining cultural differences that span everything from nationalistic and religious identities socialized onto a population through educational and societal indoctrination through to quaint manners and touchy or taboo subjects. However, little time is spent addressing similarities that all peoples have across cultures.
Having lived in foreign climes for around half my life, the one thing that has always surprised me is how similar people actually are across culture. The cultural similarities seem to far outweigh any similarity even as every culture uses forms of mild to extreme indoctrination on its people to create a majority cultural set of shared values.
Already across all societies it seems that there are shared interests people such as:
- wanting to live a peaceful existence.
- to have lasting and fulfilling relationships.
- to have a few things more in life.
- to see their children have a better life or at least better opportunities than they did.
- to have better health.
It is considerations such as these that will determine how people behave in many situations at a natural level.
In short it seems that people worldwide are basically the same, but that societal power structures that have developed over the ages. create the conditions for the differences.
And yet when people from distant societies meet through work, study, travel or accident there is often so much anxiety over how to culturally interrelate. If the anxiety is forgotten and the differences not immediately looked for, then natural empathy or an ability to think how would I like that/how would I feel or react in that situation so often gives and easy answer or understanding. Look for the cultural similarities and just be human. Like most things understanding how others will react in any situation is not terribly difficult. Just be human and it comes easily.