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Practical ways to Not, be a English language chauvinist

 In Message creation

A number of years ago I conducted a presentation entitled, Successful Cross-cultural listening and speaking. abuse and bully business man , boss and subordinate

Below are key points from the presentation.

Don’t be a language chauvinist.

For native English speakers, avoid a feeling of English language supremacy.

When interacting with a person of different cultural and/or language background,

  • Concentrate on what the person is saying, not on how they’re saying it.
  • Ask yourself, ‘Is this person too polite or embarrassed to ask questions?’
  • Don’t pretend to understand someone, when you don’t.
  • All you can initially know about a person who has an accent, is that the person speaks English differently than you.
  • Withhold negative judgement. Ask and be genuinely curious about the person’s culture and native country.
  • Avoid making the person feel ignorant about any grammar, syntax, accent or speech errors.
  • Pay attention to face and body language to gauge a person’s understanding. If you are unsure of person’s understanding of English, at first, reduce your use of metaphors, idioms and other non-literal language.
  • Avoid rushing an interaction.
  • DBAE* (Don’t Be Anywhere Else) when listening.

Let me relay a story about how one of my non-English speaking clients was made to feel ignorant.

On the footpath in the central business district of Sydney, a stranger approached my client and asked him for help. Upon hearing my client’s accent the stranger pointed to his watch, and in an exaggerated manner combined with a slow, loud, patronising voice said, ‘Do – You – Have – The – Time?’

Then while pointing repeatedly to his ear, the stranger said, ‘Do – You – Understand – Me?’

Your CALL to action/HOW to apply for this post. Review the above points. In the next seven days, consider how you might purposely apply one of them.

p.s. Here is a post that describes DBAE*. Field reports from my clients over the past 20+ years – reveal DBAE as the the most memorable, and most frequently applied technique.

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This is my last post for 2016. Thank you to my regular readers, sometime readers and new readers. Posts will resume in February 2017.

The passage below – which is taken from Robert Kennedy’s speech to the young people of South Africa on their Day of Affirmation in 1966 – has always touched me. I thought I’d share it.

‘Each time a person stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice; she or he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.

And crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest of walls of oppression and resistance.

Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet is the one essential quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.’

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