What Language Do You Speak?

I grew up learning both mandarin and english at the same time.  Being a member of an immigrant family, growing up in the US, it was necessary to understand both, especially when the majority of my family understood one language over the other.

Cafe Wha, NYC

As I grew older, I learned that even though you may speak the same dialect, there still maybe a disconnect, and you’d need to convey ideas and information at that person’s level.  I was taught that, in large crowds, you need to speak to people as if they’re in grade school.  In business, you need to know your buzz terms to be considered knowledgeable.  And later, in relationships, understand what folks value, and the language of that value, can help you become an effective communicator.  For instance, if the person you’re speaking to is a basketball fanatic, by using basketball metaphorically as your method to explain your idea, you can convey information better by meeting your audience at their level.

I can remember times when I would be approached by people who wanted to let me know they could “feel” the message of the songs I would sing, yet I would have a hard time conveying my frustrations and needs to my own partner.  I would give advice to my friends to be honest with their partners of their needs, but didn’t realize I was only offering half the solution.  Yes, you need to be honest with your partner, but I’d come to realize, on many occasions, I was not getting them at the emotional level in which I was feeling.  I would only come to realize later that people make all their decisions based on emotions, not on what was logical, or what was right, and their value structures weren’t always going to be aligned with yours, meaning, if they weren’t feeling the pain you were in, they couldn’t care less, even if it was their loved ones going through it.  People are egocentric, not saying they’re selfish, but as mentioned in my previous post, we define everything around us based on our own experiences and if we have no experience to pit it again, it won’t offer any impact.  Levels of empathy aren’t the same in everything: for someone it maybe easy to imagine themselves in someone else’s shoes, however for others, it’s nearly impossible, unless they’ve actually been there.  And forget it if you’re in the middle of an argument with someone.  Once anger comes into the fray, emotional walls go up and all any of us are doing are yelling over it.

I was introduced to Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages” back in 2013 from my former church.  This book was part of their pre-marriage class curiculim.  After reading it, it was understandable why.  Gary Chapman talks about how everyone has a form of affection they relate better to:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Physical Touch

Although the majority of us requires all of these, in varying degrees, there are some that affect us more than others.  It’s our primary language, and yes, we have a secondary and tertiary, however our primary language, when met, is how we feel the most loved.

The thing is, this is a perfect example of how people respond to different forms of communication, and how, even well intentioned information can lose their meaning, when not delivered in the proper manner.  The delivery does matter.

Are you getting your point across to your audience?