In an unusual turn of events, I had a chance not long ago to actually discuss intercultural communication with some ESL students. If you’re the kind of person who thinks that certificates and education mean more than experience, I should be better qualified to teach that than I am English.
And yet, I ran into communication dificulties.
It wasn’t something we discussed just because I felt like discussing it. I’m working with a company that has a supplier in Portugal with whom they have… difficulties.
Deliveries are late, promises are not kept, agreements are made but, for some reason, never adhered to. In short, they would be doing business with another supplier, if they could find one.
In short, this should be a company motivated to communicate better — if only to properly intimidate their supplier into delivering on time.
And yet, in discussion of a few German and Portugese “clichés” they seemed unwilling to acknowledge that any of the points (punctuality, directness) were cultural, rather than simply the correct way to be.
That’s what gets me: even a group of people who should be able to see the logic of thinking flexibly — or pretending to — would rather stick to what’s comfortable.
The experience has me re-thinking my plan to achieve renown by being the “voice of reason” that convinces the American left to stop acting like dicks, and the American right to stop being idiots. After all, if you can’t get a group of people who should see the money at the end of the tunnel to try and see things from another point of view, how are you going to get people for whom their ideas are their identity to think differently?
Short answer: I don’t know.
If someone asked me why he or she should see things from another point of view — after all, I’m for people being allowed to do what they want — I have a few answers.
First, of course, is because you’re smarter than the people you disagree with (or you wouldn’t disagree, right?), so you shouldn’t be afraid that trying to see the other person’s perspective will make yours less valid (and, if it does, then you’re a bit smarter, right?).
More importantly, we all have things we want to change. And, in my case, if sending fifteen angry emails in eighth grade English doesn’t change things, why not try something else? Similarly, if posting memes mocking Antivaxers doesn’t make them see reason, maybe changing the tone of your communication will.
I firmly believe that we communicate for a reason (even though I’m not yet sure why I write here) and, if you aren’t writing to persuade, I suspect you’re mostly writing to confirm your superiority over others. And that’s not going to change any of the things that you say you’re upset about.