I was at a dinner party the other night, and I found myself leaning in when the gentlemen with whom I was speaking said he did “communications infrastructure” for a living. It’s one of those terms that you kind of know what it means, but not really. You know it’s really important and helps the country run, but makes you want to ask “but what do you do?”
What’s interesting is that in the past I might have thought that, but not asked the question out loud. But the same skills that drive good intercultural communcations drive communcation across professions or ideas.
Turns out, by digging deeper, it’s like replacing the old physical wires that connected us for the land-telephone system, with digital connections–it provides the platform to allow all of us to communicate the way we do, every day. Well, when you put it that way, we couldn’t live without out you!
(The “aha” moment made me spontaneously say, “Oh, you mean like the old “one ringy dingy, two ringy dingy,” hence the clip above.)
I went from there to the basement to learn about composting, and for the first time in my life saw a wad of worms that looked like the world’s largest (slight exaggeration) rubberband ball, and saw “real” worm juice that the composting produced. I was really interested, because our host was really into this, and was using the worm juice to grow the incredible garden in the back yard. Who knew?
In intercultural communications, you’re interested in understanding someone from where they sit. And, as I continue to preach, “practice makes perfect.” Once you start really asking and listening and learning, you can’t stop. And that’s a good thing.
So, I leave you with a friend who’s living a really ‘alternative’ lifestyle to mine. She, her husband and and sons, ages 12 and 7, have committed to crossing America over the next year (they are 90 days into it) in an RV. The are home schooling their boys, and spending 24 hours a day together, having amazing experiences, that I imagine I won’t have. Take a look here, at the PowerPoint (complete with live pictures of a Polar Bear) they presented in Idaho while passing through. Now, that’s a different lifestyle!
What do you do? Do people glass over when you try to explain? What questions can you ask to engage more?