Updated: Jun 15
Seek first to understand before seeking to be understood
Years ago, when I first started to work outside the UK, often working with colleagues where, English was not their first language
The commonality of our language is that we understood the language being used, but not the intended meaning of words being spoken.
A good example of this was a conversation I had with Jorge in Madrid on a store visit. Jorge was mid 20's and very articulate, his English put my Spanish to shame! As we toured his store, he discussed the sales and forecasts with knowledge and skill that belied his age. Towards the end of the visit, he asked about his and his teams’ pension, he was keen to get this resolved. I suggested he contact the Pension Team to discuss, a bit unusual for some-one so young being concerned about his pension, so hats off planning ahead.
A couple of months went by and then I happened to see Jorge again and asked if he got his questions resolved about his pension. He had spoken to the Pensions Manager who told him that they couldn't help. So, I asked him about what was the problem with his pension? Oh, he said, I made a mistake in my English, I thought the English word for Salarios was Pensión!
What he wanted to resolved was that he was being paid almost the same as his assistant manager, which he felt somewhat demotivated by. Feeling undervalued he felt that perhaps he should look for another position elsewhere. As a good employee, that is the last thing we wanted. The background to this is for another post, but again interestingly, due to communication issues!
Lesson learnt! Always check for meaning when words used are perhaps unexpected.
*Names have been changed for privacy.