Have you ever had someone say something to you that just made you scratch your head and go, “Huh???” If you are married or ever have been, you know that you and your spouse speak a different language.
My wife is from Arkansas, so she has a dialect that very unique. I tell her that the only person that can REALLY communicate with her is her friend Ludy, and I call her “Fruity Ludy.” LOL.
I was talking with my wife the other day about the need to get better sleep. I told her that since I had started traveling, it messed up my sleep pattern since much of the travel was at night, and I was used to going to bed by 9 PM. The reason that I retire so early is that I get up early. I typically wake up anywhere from 3 AM to 6 AM. So you can see that getting to a hotel at 10 PM or later and then trying to wind down to go to sleep just messes up my sleep.
My wife got a brilliant idea. She said, “Why don’t you go down to the local health food store and buy you some Melanoma?” I looked at her sideways and said, “Melanoma? That is a cancer. Don’t think I want or need that. Did you mean Melatonin?” She said, “I knew it was Mella something.” We both got a good laugh at that one! The weird thing is, I knew what she meant! I have learned to speak Arkansas apparently.
A similar thing happened to me a few months ago. I lead a Chamber of Commerce meeting and after the meeting, I was just sending a personal text to each person that was there. To one lady I texted, “It is always good to see your smiling face.” At least, that is what I thought I texted. You know how cell phones auto-correct your spelling? A few minutes later I got a text back from her that simply said, “Did you mean SMILING face?” Uh-oh. I went back to see what I had texted. I had texted “It is always good to see your SMOKING face.” LOL. That is wrong on so many levels. Thank God she had a sense of humor. And thank God she knew it was an innocent mistake. I was totally mortified! The good news is, she knew what I meant even though what I said was wrong.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could communicate like that with everyone? They say there are thousands of languages in the world, but the truth is, there are billions. In fact, every one of us speaks a unique language based on our culture, our past, our circumstances, our personality, and our natural behavior. That explains why you can have two people that speak perfectly good English (or any other known language) that don’t seem to be able to understand one another.
We can learn to speak the language of those that come into our spheres of influence by doing a few simple things:
- Learn to listen without interrupting, and summarize what you heard for clarification.
- Learn to give people the benefit of the doubt and anticipate that they meant something good. I am not sure why, but we have a tendency to think the worst in others, not the best. Remember the rule of law, innocent until proven guilty. Apply that.
- Learn to not insist on being right all the time. You can be right or you can have relationship, you just can’t have both at the same time. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- Learn to love one another. That takes humility and putting others ahead of yourself and your own desires. Here again, it is easier said than done, but the payoff is worth it….peace.