The French Connection: Communication

Taken from my speech about Communication Styles during Toastmasters meeting

Je Suis heureux ce soir, parce que nous alons appredre  beaucoup de choses. Par exemple, les deux langues. Ils ont le meme sens, mais approches different. I am happy tonight, because we’re going to learn a lot of things. For example, two different languages, they have the same meaning, but different approaches. And just like in communication, we have a way of saying it, but do other people understand it?

Fellow Toastmasters and guests, good evening.TM 1

In my early years as an accountant, I received an email from the Interpol, inviting me to come to Lyon, to work as an Accountant who can speak French. My eyes began to sparkle. I see a currency sign written in my eyes. Not the dollar sign but the Euro. I imagine the lifestyle, the red wine pouring in my goblet as the waiter serve the pink salmon and of course the French woman with a pink… face, sitting in front of me as we raise our glasses, and say to her, bon appetit! It’s like living the lifestyle of James Bond. It’s a man’s dream lifestyle.

Within a few days, I was off to Europe boarding a 20-hour flight to Paris in a connecting flight to Lyon. all expenses paid by the organization including my choice of hotel. Wow, this is living the life of James bond indeed. Arriving at the Charles de Gaulle, I met two pretty young women who were university students. They tagged me along when I approached them with this pick-up line: Excusez-Moi Je Suis perdu, connaissez-Vous le Chemin du mon hotel..? Pour Une menage-a-trois… I said: Excuse me, I’m lost. Do you know the way to my hotel? Forget the last part I said. No, it’s not a tactic that I used to pick up women. But they agreed to take me along with them just the same. I thought I could go anywhere with them as we boarded the cable bus. They were bubbly and very energetic and they loved to laugh whenever they talk with each other while simultaneously looking at me as they were seated in front of me. I thought they were fond of me since I learned that when women talked with each other and giggle like little girls while darting glances with a man, it’s a sure sign of attraction! But they were not giggling, they were laughing instead and I got confused. I tried to understand what they were saying but their French is too fluent and fast it left my brains spinning.

TM 2

Little did I know that they were up to something which spells fun, and it’s not the kind of wholesome fun, it’s not even the naughty kind but still they’re having fun. They’re making fun of me. No pun intended. And I’m not included in the fun either. I wasn’t the subject but the object of their fun. They’re trying to get me lost in that part of geography the polar opposite of the country I came from and they’re succeeding in their efforts. I thought I was living the life of James Bond. It turned out I’m living la Vida loca. I met two nasty girls who took the phrase “get lost you creep” into a new dimension. And I was the one who got creeped out with their misdeed. I misread their actions for something. And it was a gap in communication.

Every one of us has styles of communicating. No one style is applicable to all. Some may be good in verbal communication, while some in non-verbal. Some prefer written while some prefer oral. In the business world, communication is everything. A simple statement can make or break a deal simply because the recipient didn’t understand what is the subtext or underlying tone of that communication. Even the same words when said in two different manners elicits two different responses.

But one thing is universal is that it is not the words you said more than the energy you put behind in those words and how you handle yourself in situations. And as Peter Drucker once said, “The most important part in communication is hearing what is not said.”             TM 3

Mr. Toastmaster.