Posted by: Brad Stanford | July 1, 2015

Learning To Communicate

One of my early jobs was with a Japanese electronics company. A story was relayed to me about how they learned about the American markets. One of their products was a calculator. As the Japanese marketing team discussed the financials with the American marketing team, there was a great revelation. The Japanese team assumed in their income projections that since the calculator hit the market at such-and-so price, then five years later it would be that same price as they introduced another product.

Of course, the American marketing team had to break the bad news that American markets didn’t work that way. Five years later, the calculator would have to sell for a lower price.

International businesses learned long ago that there is a protocol to doing business on that scale. There are things you must do in the right order to get the result you’re looking for. There is a communication of value, and it’s different in each culture. If you don’t wish to the learn the language – in this case the language of the market in another country – then you don’t get to communicate.

A friend from high school married someone from another country. She relayed to me how language got in the way for them early on. For instance, her husband would ask, “What do you want for dinner?” She answered, “I don’t care.” To her, this meant, “It doesn’t matter to me.” To him it meant, “I’m angry at you and have nothing more to say.” They pushed through, learned what to say, and what not to say, and how to extend grace. They are still happily married.

Now that internet comments and Facebook have taught us that people in general are more anxious to be heard than to listen, we can make some decisions. Either we can become quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, or we can continue to get nowhere socially.

Technology has increased at a rapid rate in my lifetime. It’s time for communication to do the same. But this is one of those things that can’t be mandated. People have to want to communicate.

The question, then, is “Why should we want to communicate?”




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