Express What You Mean in 2015This is the time of the year when most folks’ thoughts turn to wishes for peace and harmony. If all of us can learn to “play together in the same sandbox”, I believe the world will be a better place. At Language Directions, we try very hard to do what we can to help make that happen. Everything we do and everything we teach has the ultimate goal of focusing on increasing understanding, building cultural tolerance through awareness, and working better together to conquer language and cultural barriers. Being “different” is not being “wrong” or “stupid.”
When we look to communicate with another person, especially with someone who might not have been raised in the same country or even the same state as you have, we can all use some commonsense techniques to be understood. A fast-speaking friend from Boston once told a story to a friend’s Mom from Texas. The Mom stared at my friend and turned to her son and said, “I know she’s speaking English, but I really have no idea what she is saying.” When you get a ”blank look” from your listener, you might want to ask yourself:
● Have I used words or jargon that only people who are like me can understand? I recall getting directions on a military base to keep the ”flight line” on my right and I wouldn’t get lost. Problem was, as a person personally unfamiliar with airport terminology and also a non-military person, I had zero understanding of what a “flight line” was or where it would be.
● Have I used references to American sports that someone who was not born in this country or has not lived here many years would not understand? (ex. “Bob hit a home run with that proposal”.)
● Have I neglected to put spaces between words and eliminate the ”decoding” time needed for a non-native listener? When people speak quickly, sometimes they are hard to understand. “Whaddayagonnado?” might not be understood as “What are you going to do?” or “Jeetjet?”might not be recognizable as “Did you eat yet?”
● Before you express your frustration about a worker’s inability to understand your questions, think about how you would do in a similar circumstance if you suddenly found yourself in say, Vietnam, and had to get a job, make a living, and learn to communicate?
For 2015, make a resolution to picture yourself in the position of your listener or of someone trying to communicate with you. Edit the way you converse with a speaker of English as a Second Language (or even a native speaker of English!). It will go a long way in the “peace and harmony” department.
All of us at Language Directions wish all of you a joyous holiday season and a 2015 of improved communication and interpersonal relationships in all aspects of business and personal endeavors. Our January move to 101 Eisenhower Parkway will increase our capacity to be of service. We are here to help.