The Power of Communication
The Power of Communication
The moment you lose your safety …
Communition, as I have come to realize, has always been a leading principle in my work and in my life as an employee. It is a natural component, it is powerful, it functions as a weapon, but at the same time it is also a dangerous pitfall that I should be constantly aware of.
Moreover, it is a component that has given me a feeling of being compelled to start all over again, since I started with my new challenge. All this is quite confusing and at times slams me in the face. This combination of travelling in different parts of the world that I have never visited before, as well as a totally new work task, new customers and clients, all of them living abroad as well as the fact that I have to make myself clear in English have caused me to leave my comfort zone.
And yes, I have entered upon English lessons. On Saturdays, weekly, I subject myself to an hour of voluntary torture. It may sound exaggerated, but it feels like this, as I am delivered to the sharp comments and corrections of Inge, my passionate teacher of English.
She writes down all the words I mispronounce, while I am reading one of the otherwise captivating articles in Harvard Business Review. When I go home my teacher hands me the list of words that I have to study, a list that is getting longer and longer every week, at least in my perception. Quite confronting !
I am an independent woman (“yes, my girl, you think you are” my father would react. Recently he added: “by the way, did I not replace two doors in your home last week ? “ Oh, please, hush Daddy !).
Okay, better to say: I try to be an independent woman.
To say the least of it: it is so embarassing and it makes one uneasy to be confronted with one’s own limitations, when you realize you can’t express yourself in a foreign language. I notice that I am struggling with translations of obvious expressions, descriptions and emotions.
Sometimes I look forward to the moment I will be able to speak spontaneously and without errors. It is so embarassing to need the help of Google translate during a business conversation at a dinner party or during an intense whatsapp exchange. Afterwards I feel ashamed, because I simply did not know how to express myself.
Describing my emotions, adding nuances, emphasizing certain facts, using the correct idioms and the required intonation just to get it right: why has it all gone the moments I need them ?
Yes, I know: it is only intention that matters. Intention that can be supported by body language, pitch of voice, showing of empathy, all of these fed by intuition.
But how to compensate when you are on the phone with someone in China whom you can not see ?
How to check if the one on the other end of the line has really understood your intentions ? The same holds for an e-mail that has been sent to a person whom you will not see for a long time to come ?
My experience is that I feel awkward in all these circumstances.
I wonder: how often does one get a chance to restore such missed opportunities ? Will a condemnation follow when a small spelling error is being made ? How serious is the damage when accidentally an idiomatic error is being made or – even worse – a grammatical one ? How will the message be received on the other end of the communication line ? And, even more important, will this have an effect on business proceedings ?
All these are questions that have worried me over the past few weeks. Are we, global citizens, capable to communicate with each other in a non-biassed way, fully open-mindedly ?
Is it possible, despite imperfections in the use of non-native languages, to feel the pure intention of the other person, to perceive correctly how he/she is as a person and how he/she deals with business affairs ?
No doubt, I will experience how communication between non-native speakers works.
Actually, I do experience, because I am in the middle of this process…..
Symbol for this blog is the artwork ‘People’ of artist Christa Dohmen: the topic of this piece of art is communication. Communication can connect people when its done the right way (with love, sincerity and honesty). It can also disconnect or hurt people. You can ’t always avoid a painful answer. In my work People I’ve tried to express the feeling communication can cause. You can rise in ecstacy or bend because of dissapointment. I used the color blue because its the color of communication
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