I spent the week at a resort in Mexico, where I observed one of my favorite communications phenomena. As I moved between the pool and the beach, the beach and the buffet, the buffet and the patio–and every permutation thereof–I let the sounds of assorted world languages rain over me. Aside from the obvious Spanish and English, I basked in the sounds of Russian, Italian, French, German, Chinese, and a few languages I didn’t immediately recognize. I loved it, and I loved having my children exposed to it.
In a situation like that, you can’t count on the words. Sometimes, no matter how you try to phrase and rephrase, the language barrier is just too great. That’s when you have to dump the words and operate on instinct. And do you know what? It works remarkably well. We all wanted food, sun, water, recreation. That stuff is easy when you let go of the words. Did I really say that? Yep. Let go of the words. Stop trying to talk and just communicate.
You’ll be amazed at how much of what we say is communicated non-verbally. What a great reminder I had this week.
Yes, ma’am. I pantomimed my way through three trips to Japan without incident. Despite compulsory English throughout school, most Japanese people speak next to no English. However, every menu in the country (yes, I checked every single one) comes with pictures and fortunately for me I can point!