Simply speaking louder not working?
There are some things that non-native speakers may automatically do when speaking across a language barrier. Turns out, these are good habits to transfer to same language communication. Taking interest in your communication partner, really trying to understand and connect, are always good practices. Here are three tactics to help.
1. Let the other person know if you cannot hear or understand them.
How many times does someone in conversation say something that you don’t hear, and you smile and say “uh huh” anyway. Next thing you know you have ordered the liver pate (or something really gross if you like liver pate) or worse, your companion has shared something really deep and sensitive and you completely missed it.
As I’ve learned by communicating in another language, it’s okay to say “Excuse me, I didn’t hear what you said, would you repeat please?” Or, “I’m sorry, I want to make sure I really understood, can you say that again?” Listen very carefully to make sure you understand.
2. Ask questions to confirm meaning.
For example, when your sister-in-law says. “Come on, let’s go to Pão de Açúcar,” does she mean the grocery store on the corner named Pão de Açúcar, or Pão de Açúcar, the mountain that faces the Corcovado (huge statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro). Context can help…we are making cake and are out of eggs, which does suggest the former, but never hurts to ask!
Many words have double meanings, and specific words can mean different things to different people. Ask questions to confirm you are saying the same thing.
3. Be careful of telling long, convoluted stories.
The punchline may be hilarious, and the connection to the current conversation may be extremely relevant, but if the other person has no previous connection (e.g. this was an experience personal to you), their eyes are squinting, perhaps a little furrow in the brow—no matter how relevant, it’s too long, and not the right story to share. If the telephone is ringing, and it’s your point calling…it’s time to wrap it up.