When Traditional Communication Strategies Aren’t Enough: Part 2
Commonalities of People with Different Language Backgrounds
3 COMMONALITIES when English is spoken between people of different language backgrounds are:
- We all want communication to be easy. We can make it easy with some mindful auditory and visual listening strategies.
- Our bodies don’t usually lie when we don’t understand something. Facial expressions and body language give clues of how effectively we are communicating.
- We take what’s unfamiliar and make it familiar to match what we already know.
Making Accented Communication Easier
These three commonalities lead us to two additional MINDFUL COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES. The following will make communication easier. After you notice that your listeners’ body language indicates confusion, you can employ these strategies to make the unfamiliar more familiar to your communication partner:
- Give your listeners BACKGROUND INFORMATION
- Tell your listeners MORE INFORMATION related to your main point or related to the words or sentences your listeners are not understanding
Setting up the Topic Clears Communication
To give your listeners background information, set up the topic before you begin speaking about it. For example, if you are talking with a customer or client or patient (if you are a physician) who is not in the same profession as you, and you use a technical word, provide background information. There is an instance of an engineering client using the term “pitch” which refers to the slope as related to ratio of rise and width. He was speaking to a customer who did not have an engineering background. Because the engineer and his client were talking on the phone, the engineer couldn’t notice that after he said this word “pitch,” that his client was confused. The client’s mind envisioned a “peach”; the fruit.
Repairing Communication: Professional Interaction Example
The American client didn’t respond because he was trying to think of other words that would make more sense in this scenario. He continued to listen for more information, but the engineer continued to move on to the next topic. Finally, the client asked the engineer to revisit the topic he was discussing earlier. The engineer was unable to completely understand just how much information the client had needed him to review. The engineer didn’t know that the specific word “pitch” was the word that gave his client trouble. As a result, the client was frustrated as was the engineer.
Had the engineer provided background information, the client would not have been frustrated. For example, the engineer could have said “I’m going to be using some terminology that may or nay not be familiar to you. Feel free to stop me and tell me right away if you don’t understand the words that I say.” By simply saying those two sentences, it opens the door for the engineer’s client to feel comfortable asking questions when he doesn’t understand the engineer’s words. It also allows the communication to be repaired IMMEDIATELY so that the client focuses on what the Engineer is saying, not on what they said three or more sentences prior.
Clear Speech Through Definitions
In that scenario, if the client stopped the engineer right away, the engineer could have responded by GIVING MORE INFORMATION. The engineer could have said “I was referring to the term pitch, which means the slope of a member defined as the ratio of the total rise to the total width.” Notice how in this case, the engineer gave a definition. Giving definitions of the word you’re using that has been mis-communicated is one way to provide MORE INFORMATION.
You now have two more tool for more effectively and efficiently communicating in English. Set up the topic before discussing it. Provide more information about that topic if necessary. By using these COMMUNICATION MINDSET STRATEGIES at work, you’ll be more equipped to increase your productivity. Less time will be spent on repairing communication. You’ll be building more solid relationships with your clients. When your clients are feeling more of a connection with you through your communication, you’ll RETAIN them as clients longer. For new clients, you’ll establish them as continuing clients. Your relationships with your colleagues will improve. They will feel like you are vested in your relationship with them as you put forth effort to take responsibility for your English communication. They’ll be able to spend more time talking about the items of discussion regarding each of your jobs. They will be spending less time figuring out what you’re saying or what you’re asking.
Importance of Background Information: Summary
The next time you are using specific terminology in your profession or speaking about something that is out of the immediate context, remember that it’s wise to consider providing background information before your begin your discussion. You can then follow up with providing additional information. You could even say “I’m going to give you a little bit of background and if I’m giving you too much information, feel free to let me know. The reason that I want to give you background information is that I want you to understand the words that I’m saying. Because of my language background (you can tell them your native language), I sometimes don’t speak the English sounds exactly as you’re used to hearing them.” This way, you’re inviting your listeners to feel COMFORTABLE PARTNERING WITH YOU in communicating. Wishing you empowerment as you use these COMMUNICATION MINDSET STRATEGIES!