I spent some time at a bookstore Saturday. That is rare for me in this age of ordering from Amazon, but I needed to peruse possible purchases this time. I was looking for a pocket-size Mandarin Chinese phrase book/dictionary in preparation for my trip to China. After taking time to look through the three available, I decided to buy them all. I started my way through one last night.
Even though our small touring group will have an interpreter with us at all times in China, I want to do the kind thing and at least learn enough basic words and phrases to show respect and concern for those I encounter there. It will go a long way toward breaking down barriers. After all, how can I really get to know someone if I can’t speak their language? Of course, I won’t learn Chinese in a week, but others will know I’m trying and that should mean something.
You and I make choices daily about how we communicate with others. It usually isn’t about such a stark contrast as English versus Chinese. The impact, however, can still be great.
For example, if I am a leader in a business or organization, I need to speak in terms that others clearly understand. If I have the opportunity to speak in public to a group, I need to know my audience and use language appropriate to the hearers. The point of speaking is not to hear me speak, but to communicate effectively with others.
I remember way back as a freshman in college at the University of Kentucky. The student paper one day had an article that had everyone buzzing because every other word in it was a word that nobody understood. Someone had gone to the trouble of leaning heavily on a thesaurus to create this long-winded opinion piece that apparently tried to impress but, instead, made the author look foolish. It failed to successfully communicate at all.
A former manager of mine is fond of the saying “eschew obfuscation” which, of course, violates it’s own advice.
Be considerate of others when communicating. Speak their language. Follow leap year lesson #97 – Work at communicating clearly.