What If You Don’t Speak The Language? March 23, 2010Posted by Kevin Burns in attitude, attitude expert, attitude of service, attitude speaker, attitude strategist, business, communication, conversation, culture, customer, kevin burns, keynote speaker.
The summer of 2005, I spent 5 weeks in small-town, rural Quebec in a French immersion course learning the language. With my high-school French as a base and a lifetime around my French-speaking relatives, I built my vocabulary quickly. Then there was Jean-Louis, whose house I shared. We would converse each night for at least an hour. In week one, I understood maybe 5% of what he was saying. At the end of week five, I was conversing with 95% accuracy.
But I will never forget that first week where 95% of conversation was over my head.
Starbucks is another place where newbies get all nervous at the counter because they don’t speak the language. A “venti, skinny, double-shot, extra-hot, no foam, no whip, caramel macchiato” runs fear through the veins of newbies not wanting to be embarrassed when they order a “medium coffee.”
P’shaw. There’s no such thing as medium because a tall is a small, a grande means large but is the medium size and a venti is Italian for “twenty” and refers to the 20-ounce sized cup – a large. Then there’s the coffee. C’est confusant.
How about sending a courier package? Do you speak “courier?” Did you know that “height X width X depth” divided by 194 will give you the dimensional weight – the billable weight of your package – not the actual weight? And that the formula for calculating brokerage, duty and taxes varies but not based on weight or contents?
Are you speaking your language or the language of the people you serve? Take the time to educate clients in how your industry works. Speak plain language. (IT guys are famous for not getting that one.)
Build your relationships based on clear communication and trust, then you can build on that to bring people up to speed. Organizations and people of greatness make it easy for customers to follow them and they don’t embarrass their potential customers or make them afraid to do business with them by using jargon.
Attitude w/ ATTITUDE by Kevin Burns – Corporate Attitude/Culture Strategist
Creator of the 90-Day Strategy to Greatness Culture