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Does Your Language Make People Nervous?

Last week my wife and I attended my cousin’s wedding in the Dominican Republic.  It was at a beach resort filled with tourists from around the world.  The ceremony was right on the beach…beautiful!  After the sun went down many of us stayed on the beach to celebrate with the bride and groom.  At some point the biggest man I ever saw in my life decided to join the party.  He was not with our group and stumbled upon us as he was walking the beach.  He appeared to be in a good mood and was speaking loudly in a language I did not understand.  He came up to me and in a fun way slapped me on the back.  The pain was so intense; I thought he separated my shoulder.  As his backslapping and booming voice continued, I started getting very nervous. I was not sure what was going to happen.  Could the biggest man in the world turn on us?  At one point I started to think about what I would do if he got mad and came after us.  I decided I would go for the ankles.  Trying to hit him would leave me with a broken hand.  He eventually moved on without incident and the celebration continued. 

Later I did some self analysis to try and determine what made me so nervous.  It all had to do with me not understanding what he was saying, and he could not understand us.  In addition, the fact that he was the biggest man alive, there was the risk of him doing physical damage. 

So, does your language make your business stakeholders or your team nervous?  In our profession we have to communicate with many people speaking different “languages”. Like the guy on the beach your intention is most likely not to make the people you work with nervous. But, if you are not speaking their language there is a good chance you do make them nervous.  If you speak to technical to your business stakeholders or not technical enough to your development team, you may be making them nervous.  If you communicate in too much detail to your management or not enough detail to your quality assurance team, you may be making them nervous.  These are obviously stereotypes as you know some managers want all the detail.  The fact is if you are making the person you are communicating with uncomfortable, they are not hearing you.  They are thinking about ways to protect themselves. 

You have to determine and be aware of what language the people you are communicating with speak.  To progress in your career you have to become multi-lingual. 

Cheers (Salud, A La Votre, Na zdorovie, L’chaim, Kan-pie…),


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