I just recently returned from a vacation in Dubai.
It’s a pretty big and awesome city.
It was my first legitimate international trip. (Passport requirements aside, the Caribbean doesn’t count). Did I mention how fortunate I am to have experienced that? It almost goes without saying.
While overseas, I realized how much of a challenge communication in large groups, small groups, with strangers and barterers in a suk can be.
So I wrote down some rules that should help the flow of good communication for everyone, anywhere.
A) Empathy is at the heart of all good communication
The Dubai Mall is one of the largest shopping centers in the world. It has 4 floors, more than 1200 stores, an ice arena and a f***ing aquarium. Seriously.
Every time I asked for directions from anyone working at the mall, I got a mumble and vague point in some direction.
This was initially frustrating. But it quickly made me look for alternatives — like figuring it out on my own. Soon, we found a giant kiosk (of which there are many) that give you virtual directions anywhere in the mall.
More importantly, I tried to imagine being an employee giving one of the roughly 62 million visitors detailed directions to the bathroom every 30 seconds.
Empathy, folks. Remember that.
(B) When possible, speak to people in their own language
Obviously, right? But even when you can’t speak their language, try communicating in a way they might understand before getting your panties in a bunch. Point to things on a map if you have to.
Remember, they might not actually understand anything you’re saying!
Even even when people do understand what you’re saying remember the wise words of the late Nelson Mandela:
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
(C) Listen to understand, not to reply
I promised to do this for my wife in my wedding vows. It’s not easy. But I re-read them every so often and it reminds me why I decided to include it.
Because when you’re thinking about what was said or what you’re going to say, you’re not listening to what’s being said. And more importantly, how it’s being said.
You miss the opportunity to read between the lines and ask important questions of clarification.
(D) Speak calmly and choose your words carefully
Studies have shown that speaking at a comfortable pace can make you more persuasive.
Researchers “found that those who spoke at “a nice comfy pace” — three-and-a-half words per second — were more persuasive than slower or very fast talkers” 1.
But speaking slowly also affords you the ability to see in real time how others are actually receiving the message you’re sending out. You can adapt it accordingly if you’re paying attention.
And if you’re paying attention to if they’re hearing what you’re saying, then you’re back at empathy.
Now you’re on the right track to being a good, communicating person that other people want to talk to.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, let me know in the comments below. Or share it with someone who else you think might get something out of it!
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