Sunday, June 17, 2012

English – the “common” language?

Another challenge is how we understand words and concepts differently. Many people are not communicating in their mother tongue – when writing - or speaking in English. This can cause confusion to others. It can also cause people to dismiss wonderful inputs, or to take umbrage to what is written. 

Just because we all speak English – does not make it a common language!

The use and meaning of words, in English differ from country to country. Just as a small example, the concept and meaning of the word “diversity” definitely has differing meanings, in my country alone. The differences in concept, across nations, will be even greater. In diversity forums this may be the main stumbling block.

The manner in which people present their ideas also varies. Certain people try and couch their ideas in an almost round-about manner – in order to save the feelings of the people they communicate with. They try to be “diplomatic.” Many people have no idea what they mean. There are others who use sarcasm. To the sarcastic this way of communicating is sharp, tactical and clever. Again there are many people who do not have a clue what they are on about.

Others use the shock tactics of attack and accusation, perhaps thinking that they will bring change and realisations. Often, all that they do is isolate themselves and others. Some will just hurtfully blurt out their judgements and prejudices. Some will learn from that, many will be angered and turn away from them.

Within all of this – even though we use a “common” language, we all need to be constantly vigilant regarding the messages that are being sent out and how we receive them through our preconceptions and judgements.  Are we receiving the messages, as they were intended? Do we need to ask more questions to get true understanding, before we add our judgements?

Steven Covey in the 7 Habits of Highly Successful people wrote, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” I personally will try to practice this much more.

Kind regards

17 June 2012

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