From Poop to Bowl!
Ok! I have lived for quite a few years overseas. I have taught on communication. I thought I had learned some lessons on effective communication but still I struggle with communicating effectively.
You think you have the message transposed across the wavelengths. You check and double check. You restate the information or question just to make sure you all understand each other yet somehow those wires just overlap, get tangled, or even get disconnected, creating tension, frustration, aggression and any other word you can find in a Thesaurus that explains anger….just to be sure I have communicated that effectively!
It’s not that you get angry really, you just want to tear your hair out or in Paul’s case tear out what little hair you have left! I think I am just a bit tired and not feeling well this week so it is wearing me out. Paul has been at it for months and his temper has wavered frequently since I arrived – could I be the reason! We have a Jewish girl here we connect with who has grown more grey hairs than a 27 year old would wish to have.
Well what are some keys to effective cross-cultural communication? Don’t know..next blog!
Just kidding..but really I am not sure I have the answers or any answers in fact, but there would have to be a few keys that are universal and do work to some degree.
- Feedback – make sure you have understood each other. Just because they say they know English doesn’t necessarily mean they do. Especially Australian accents and idioms. So Paul make sure you keep them to a minimum! Feedback also isn’t parroting. Say it differently in as many ways as you can possibly think so it cannot be misinterpreted and keep it simple.
- Patience – Listen to each other. Say it then repeat, then say it again. Wait until you see that light of recognition go on and then check again because it might be the wrong light bulb. Example: While trying to explain what not to put into compost, to the guy making me some signs, the conversation went something like this.
“No dog poop”
“Poop- what is poop”
“You know poo”
“Poo?” Blank look
“Yes a number 2,” Blank look!
Not being a swearer – the s word didn’t help me.
“Yes from your bowel. You know” me signalling which direction it would emanate.
“OH! Bowl!” he says as some light bulb goes off except he reaches for a plastic bowl discarded in the grass…
“No Bowel!” Says I..
Paul over hearing the prolonged conversation has had enough. He scours the yard and finds a dog poop!
“Oh! Poo…..” Finally the light bulb goes on and embarrassment hits as the young guy gets our meaning. Actually he did a great drawing poop on the sign although not sure others will know what it is.
So make sure the light bulb look is the correct light bulb look. So what was the lesson learned – not sure but it keeps us laughing..maybe that is a key..
Until next time
Farewell, goodbye, so long, bye bye,