Tuesday, June 09, 2009
5 Steps to Translating the Foreign Language of Relationships
Have you ever thought you asked a simple question in your relationship, such as “Would you like to go the movies this Friday?” and gotten a response that led you to believe that perhaps you really did have six heads and were speaking a foreign language?
Studies have shown that over 90% of our communication is non-verbal. Is it any wonder then that much of what we say, or what we think we say, gets lost in translation?
John Gray is best known for Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. It’s a great primer for understanding that just because you think you’re speaking the same language, doesn’t mean you actually are. However, regardless of gender, communication in any relationship is often as simple as learning any foreign language. Once we know how to translate in our loved one’s language, we then have clear and successful communication.
Here are 5 steps to learning a foreign language that will help you get started in bridging the translation gap of your relationship communications.
1. Learn the vocabulary definitions. Just because you may both be using English to communicate doesn’t mean you’re operating from the same definition of a given word or phrase. If one of you wants to “spend more time together,” find out what that is defined by or what it looks like to each one of you. The definition may or may not be the same.
2. Do not judge a definition. When you look up any word in a dictionary, regardless of the language of that dictionary, it does not give you the definition and say, “here are some different options, but your interpretation is the right one.” The definition itself is neutral. Don’t go messing with Webster – he’s got his own dictionary. To get the definitions with your interpretations, create your own.
3. Learn the translation. When using a foreign language dictionary, you start by looking up the word you want to use in your own language. Often you will see that there are options for conveying meaning in the language you are attempting to communicate in, and you must choose the most appropriate translation for the context you desire. While the translation may seem similar, it is often different in meaning and context.
4. When in doubt, never assume, always ask. One of the best ways to learn a foreign language is to find a common, neutral ground and just start asking what that word or phrase means and then ask how to say it correctly in their language.
Without asking, you may get the translation right, but the pronunciation wrong. Or sometimes the translation you choose while correct by dictionary standards, is incorrect for practical conversation. If we’re lucky, the other person may understand what we are trying to communicate, if unlucky we run the risk of offending, upsetting or embarrassing others, not to mention ourselves!
By asking the one who is fluent in the language you seek to learn directly, your chances of learning how to communicate with the correct interpretation and meaning are increased exponentially.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice! I’m sure you’re familiar with the term that applies to learning a foreign language, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” Our relationships provide no shortage of opportunities to practice bridging the communication gap. Whether it’s spending time together, communicating throughout the day, deciding how to raise the kids, what’s important to us, what restaurant or movie to go to, there are plenty of open doors to practice learning (and speaking in) each other’s language.
If you’ve ever traveled or spoken a foreign language, you know that often, even if we don’t get it right, just by making an attempt to speak another person’s language even a little bit, we open the door to greater understanding, expanded conversations and more of what we really wanted to begin with.
(c) 2009 All Rights Reserved Jenn Kaye & Head-On Communications International