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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Culture and Communication

In Western cultures we use all manner of jargon to communicate. Especially sports analogies. How many times have you used...

  • let's get this project over the goal line.
  • the deadline is here, throw a Hail Mary Pass.
  • this will not be a slam dunk.
  • we need a full court press on this!
  • there is no "I" in Team.
  • that is a sticky wicket.
  • is that par for the course?
  • where is the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat?
  • we are in extra innings.
  • it isn't over until it's over.
How many times have you seen that look of confusion or the blank stare on the face of someone with a different culture? How many times have you provided instruction and then discovered that your employees still don't understand? Could you be using jargon to instruct?

Western politics, corporate boardrooms and the guy next door all use these to communicate. But how does that translate across cultures? As Americans we tend to think the rest of the world is on the "same page" (anther one!) as us. Unfortunately, in this global economy, that is far from the truth.

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