Cultural competency is an essential skill for family physicians because of increasing ethnic diversity among patient populations. Culture, the shared beliefs and attitudes of a group, shapes ideas of what constitutes illness and acceptable treatment. A cross-cultural interview should elicit the patient's perception of the illness and any alternative therapies he or she is undergoing as well as facilitate a mutually acceptable treatment plan. Patients should understand instructions from their physicians and be able to repeat them in their own words. To protect the patient's confidentiality, it is best to avoid using the patient's family and friends as interpreters. Potential cultural conflicts between a physician and patient include differing attitudes towards time, personal space, eye contact, body language, and even what is important in life. Latino, Asian, and black healing traditions are rich and culturally meaningful but can affect management of chronic medical and psychiatric conditions. Efforts directed toward instituting more culturally relevant health care enrich the physician-patient relationship and improve patient rapport, adherence, and outcomes.