Lost In Translation
Updated: Jan 3, 2020
Everything we say, do, or indeed don't do has some implicit meaning.
Whether intentional or not, your subconscious drives your behaviours in ways that are complex and often difficult to understand.
Point being, there is purpose in everything you do and indeed don’t do.
How people communicate differs largely based on the individual, on deep lying assumptions and beliefs that you may hold about the world, but also on the cultural context.
Cultures in the east for example, such as Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern and North African, are generally considered high context cultures.
A high context refers to cultures that rely mainly on non-verbal, implicit communication. They rely on deep personal relationships, context, and traditions to interpret messages.
Japan for example is considered one of the highest context cultures in the world.
In short, how you say things, is more important than what you say, as there is meaning derived from the space between the lines.
Your tone of voice, the pauses, the non-verbal cues, the timing of the message and taking into account the entire context at a particular point in time; all really matters.
In contrast, a low-context culture is one that communicates information in direct, explicit, and precise ways, relying heavily on use of specific verbal language.
The challenge then tends to occur when what’s being expressed verbally, doesn’t seem to align with the context or what’s being expressed implicitly (by the actions and non-verbal cues).
Both are equally important, especially when considering research that suggests that 93% of all communication is non-verbal (55% body language and 38% tone of voice).
It’s simple enough to expect someone to take everything you say at face value, but in doing so, you're asking them to essentially ignore (or seperate) what's being said, from it's underlying meaning (or purpose) - given an overall superficial, one dimensional, view of a situation.
Limiting the opportunity to garner what is actually, in real terms, being conveyed.
It’s no wonder why we sometimes find ourselves totally lost in translation.
The goal then should be alignment,
A truthful expression of who you are and what you mean, evident in what you say and in what you do.
No disconnect, a complete integration of actions and words, whilst maintaining a deeply held understanding of the context and your intended audience
This takes a great degree of introspection, skill and emotional intelligence – but worth the effort if you value meaningful relationships
And if you in turn value having the ability to express yourself authentically and accurately, without any pretence.