Exploring cultures, countries and comfort zones
count, so contracts would tend to be
lengthy and confusing. This yielded the
expression “5-cent words and 25-cent
words.” You should always try to avoid
using a “25-cent word” when a “5-cent
say “provide assistance to” when you
can just say “help.”
There are plenty of things to keep in mind when traveling abroad. You should pack an electric- ity;converter;when;flying to Europe, get vaccinations before entering parts of Africa or
Asia, and learn at least the basics about
culture, business and etiquette of the
country you are visiting so you don’t
say or do anything offensive.
While it’s important to do your
research before traveling to a new
country, it’s equally important for
speakers from the United States to learn
how to communicate with clients, audiences and friends from foreign lands
who may not be familiar with American
customs, slang and confusing colloquial
Just a few months ago, I overheard a
conversation between a native English-speaking computer wiz who solved
a technical problem for a man from
India, who was also very intelligent, but
unfamiliar with American slang. When
“Thank you” to his American counterpart and, in return, Brian said, “You
bet!” Looking puzzled and offended,
Ajar responded, “I don’t gamble, Brian!
It’s against my religion.”
These tips will help you communicate effectively in any country.
Say It, Don’t Spray It
Speak clearly and slowly, but be aware
that the way you talk and your body
language may be misinterpreted as condescending to a foreign listener. Slow
your tempo a bit, but keep your normal
Remember, annoying is annoying in
any language! No one wants to be confused, disrespected or yelled at. Take
time to do the little things. They’ll
make a big difference.
Respect languages, beliefs and traditions
by asking about them. Be genuinely
interested in what foreigners have to
offer and embrace diversity.
Chez Raginiak is an award- winning speaker and the author of My Escape to Freedom and Learn English Without Teachers. He is the
co-chair of the NSA Diversity Professional
Expert Group. Visit www.1moment.us.
Learn a New Language
At speaking engagements or social
events, greet international groups with
a phrase from their language. Others
will notice and admire your effort.
Besides, how hard is it to say “Danke”
(Thank you) in German, “Jam-bo”
(Hello) in Swahili or “Na zdrowie”
(Cheers!) in Polish?
5-Cent Words vs.
Use “5-Cent” Words
Until recently, law professionals
charged clients according to word