A while ago I was in Prague, a beautiful city in the Czech Republic full of culture and great stores! We shopped till we dropped, enjoyed the beautiful buildings and regularly sat on a terrace with a good glass of wine :-). All ordered in decent English of course.
"They’re not really friendly here, huh?" we said to each other. Store staff with a neutral or somewhat surly appearance. Waitresses and waiters who served in a correct yet distant manner. Hmmm, could it be the culture? Maybe it has to do with the past? We speculated on it.
I kept trying to remember the word for Thank You. Dekowie? Dikwie? I could not get it into my head on the first day. I had to look it up again (and again) on Google translate after yet another quite grumpy store lady when we asked her for the fourth pair of shoes to try on. Long live Google Translate and 4G within Europe! She arrived with three boxes size 39 and put them down. In my best (ok, very bad) Czech, I blurted out děkuji with a cautious smile. Rádi udělal, the lady said back with a smile. A smile! We had not seen that before. Suddenly there was a connection. Wow! One word in her language and this is the effect!?
I thought of the many years of training I've been conducting in the Process Communication Model®, a powerful model that offers practical tools to keep communication clear and improve the quality of life. Every day. Founder Taibi Kahler uses a bright line in communication, "If you want people to listen to you, speak their language." I couldn't have gotten a better affirmation than from this lady. Although I did my best to speak English (the 1st world language after all) I was obviously a guest in her country and wanted to connect.
Instead of making all kinds of assumptions about why people came across as unfriendly, one word in the native language made all the difference. It may have been difficult for me to remember the Czech word for Thank you (I really had to ask and look it up 5 times), but it had an amazing effect. So do you want to connect with others? Speak their language. And one word is enough to show that you want to make an effort for the other. And that’s how a conversation can ignite a change, at least it brought me the right shoes with a smile J.
"If you want people to listen to you, speak their language" - Dr. Taibi Kahler
Even within our own language we speak different languages, and we tend to keep talking in our preferred language. Even when we see that we are not connecting with the other person. Do you speak the language of Thoughts and logic or of Actions and initiative? Are you just not getting through to your conversation partner? Do you experience miscommunication, notice that you are drawing all kinds of conclusions about the person 'he is not listening', 'he is so opinionated’? Then ask yourself the question: what is his/her preferred language? And what would happen if I made an effort to make contact in that language?
Curious which six languages we all speak and how you can make a daily difference? Read more about the Process Communication Model®.
About the author:
Edith Doosje is PCM master trainer and co-founder of PCM Netherlands & Belgium.