People from different social backgrounds may communicate in a more or less formal way than we are used to. While it is important to maintain a professional persona in our working lives it it sometimes important to modify our responses in order that others may feel more comfortable talking to us or feel more confident about our ability to do our job to a high standard. For example some people may feel uncomfortable talking to someone who is well spoken and uses an extensive vocabulary whilst others may doubt your ability if you use slang and simple vocabulary. People with social difficulties such as Asperger syndrome may not respond well to metaphors used as they take words literally and they have difficulty interpreting facial gestures and body language. It is important to be clear and understanding.
It is important to always maintain a level of professional distance from colleagues, parents and students. It is important not to “over-share” or become too friendly with students or parents. When the lines are blurred problems may occur, particularly with secondary school student/teacher relationships. Conversations and humour should be matched to the audience, you may tell a joke to a work colleague that you may not want to share if there is a parent in the room or even the headteacher depending on how well you know them.
People from cultures other than our own may have a different set of values and expectations. They may find parts of our own culture offensive and vice versa. It is important to understand and respect these differences to maintain a good relationship. When communicating with people from different cultures it is important to remember that they may have different ideas on appropriate personal space, hand gestures and that sometimes if they have a different first language they or we may translate a word or sentence incorrectly which may cause confusion or offence. Being patient and open-minded is the key to building a positive relationship.