I was trying to hide but you found me!

There’s this old joke that was passed around back in language class when I was in college.  It had to do with two porters who came from different regions, and didn’t speak much of the local language of the port where they were working.  While carrying a particularly heavy load, one porter felt his grip slipping a bit, so he told the other porter to stop, so he could adjust his grip and leverage.  Unfortunately, the porter who was losing his grip told the other porter to stop in his native dialect, which actually had a much different meaning in the native dialect of the other porter.  What meant “stop” in one porter’s dialect meant “drop it” in the other porter’s dialect.  So, seeing the urgency in the other porter’s urgings, and against his better judgment, the other porter dropped what they were carrying, which we all assume fell on the poor other porter’s feet.

This is how confusing, and oftentimes damaging, miscommunication can be.  While it may not always result in crushed feet, it can, nevertheless, have less than productive results.

In the context of people seeking work, particularly in other countries, this is even more evident.  I can’t even begin to count the number of stories I heard relating to wasted opportunities, good deals gone bad, and bright careers gone dark, all because of miscommunication.  If these points are not reason enough for workers, most specially those working abroad, to improve their communication skills, then here are a few more that I think are quite valid reasons to do so:

Improve relationships

Being away from home is never easy.  I have yet to meet someone working outside of their country who said it was the easiest thing they ever did.  This is why building good working relationships while away from home is implicitly important, since everything else could already prove to be difficult.  By being able to improve your relationship with others, you already stand a chance to have help whenever you need it, understand the local culture of the place you happen to be working in, and basically have someone who isn’t an absolute stranger to relate with wile you’re working abroad.  If anything else, people often take to other people whom they describe as good listeners or great conversationalists.  These are are the people who can engage people in conversations that both actually enjoy, rather than just one simply blabbing to their heart’s content while the other endures the noise.  People like these are statistically known to have more acquaintances and friends, and are desribed as pleasant, trustworthy, and generally an amiable person to be with.  Regardless of cultural gaps, this kind of communicative ability will definitely allow one to cross most types of personal and cultural boundaries and differences.

Minimize friction

Cultural difference can arise from even the smallest of things, such as food, greetings, or even how one dresses. This is a constant point of concern for anyone who happens to be working abroad.  Sometimes this really can’t be helped, there are just groups of people who grew somethings that are as natural to them as eating or breathing but happen to be offensive to others.  This is immensely difficult to get around, since there would instances where you will definitely have to tread lightly and check yourself before you do or say something that is natural to you.  The best course of action here is to become exceedingly diplomatic in your ways and habits.  There will be instances wherein you will definitely slip do something others might frown upon, but if you happen to be exceedingly diplomatic in the way you communicate and conduct yourself, most will definitely be willing to overlook your slip.

Enhance leadership skills

Some of the most effective and prominent leaders, not only in the field of business, but in communities and even governments, happen to be those who seem to possess an amazing charisma.  These people just seem to have the ability to enthrall people when they begin to talk.  This is because they have learned to improve their communication skills to such a level that people simply cannot help but listen to them, and even believe them, when they speak.  This is trait that will prove to be a boon to any leader, even those aspiring to be one.  Leaders are only as good as their ability to lead their people to what needs to be done, and things definitely cannot be done if the followers don’t understand the leader well enough to be efficient about their work.

Seal more deals

I’ve actually seen this scenario unfold:  there were two car salepeople at a car dealership who were seeing to the potential buyers shopping around.  As I walked past one, I overheard him detailing the functions and best features of the vehicle a potential customer was looking at, although he just sounded more like a brochure talking than a real person.  He was mostly like this with three other people who went to his side of the car dealership.  I moved over to the other side where there was another car salesman who actually did not hover around the customers, only nodding at them while smiling from time to time and approaching with a warmer smile when the customer seemed to want to ask about a car.  From what I could hear, the salesman actually asked the customer what their driving habits were, what the customer’s preference in a car might be, and other things that pertained more to the customer than the car, and then he would direct them to a car which more or less suited the things the customer described.  This saleman was able to sell two cars while I was there, which was in the area of just an hour and a half.  By communicating well with the customers, understanding their needs and preferences, and explaining how things were, he was able to seal more deals than the other salesman.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>