There are four building blocks in my view, that are paramount in building multicultural relationships. The first is education. Education is extremely important because without being educated in those things that constitute the culture, even in an elementary way, it is impossible to progress to the second building block, which is critical thinking.
It is important to think critically about what it means to be in the shoes of members of the particular culture, and this, I believe comes with study. I don’t mean intellectual study or academic study necessarily, but I do mean the kind of study requiring thinking that takes into account the value of people which goes far beyond the stereotypes that seem to govern most cultures on the surface. This process of taking the time to dig a little deeper allows for the graduation to the next important building block, which is knowledge.
Once you know about a particular culture and its nuances, then it makes it easier to reach the fourth building block, which is empathy, and as far as I am concerned, empathy is the pinnacle, and is the most difficult of the building blocks to reach because the other three are seldom done. Empathy means to understand, and understanding is what contributes greatly to a sense of community and mutuality.
I deliberately did not include the word “tolerance” as part of the contributions. Tolerance by definition means a “fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions, beliefs, and practices that differ from one's own. (Dictionary.com 2016). To be fair, tolerance is an honorable state of being, however, to be tolerant connotes “permitting” and permitting something assumes the ability grant or not to grant. In order for true mutuality and community to occur, one culture should not permit the understanding, existence or justification of another, and it shouldn't even be necessary to permit one's self to be tolerant. Tolerance is only necessary when there is a dominant culture which is considered above or over others.
I believe that the honest progression from education to critical thinking to knowledge and then finally empathy is vital to build relationships cross-culturally as well as inter-culturally. Besides, it just makes good common sense.
Dictionary.com (2016). “Tolerance.” Retrieved May, 2016 from the World-Wide Web: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/tolerance