Communication- it’s tougher than you think

I came across this in the paper the other day and was amused by it, but reflected that it contained more than a grain of truth.  I was talking to a fellow coach about it and it was interesting to explore the nuances of communication that are landmines waiting to blow the legs of the unwary.  Years ago I stumbled on a deep truth.  A very good friend of mine would often say when I suggested doing something “That would be great!” or “I’d love to..” only to inevitably let me down.  I used be angry and hurt by his behaviour till I realise that what he meant when he said this was true BUT what he never added was “if I have time / money / finished the other 59 things on my list first…”  The thing is if I someone says to me “Let’s have lunch” my next action is to get out my diary and say “Good.. when?” it isn’t the polite English version, it is a call to action.  This chart helped explain that I am wired differently from my compatriots. 

Cross cultural communication is full of this kind of misunderstanding.  In some places turning up on time is rude, in others lateness is …

If you are a married man and your wife asks you how she looks before going out and you reply “Fine”, be careful… very, very careful how you enunciate this potentially explosive response.  You might be telling her she completely meets expectations, you might in some places be telling her she looks fine, complimenting her, in others you will be saying she is adequate, and no woman wants to be told this!  Be clear and careful when you communicate and preferably honest too!

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