Don’t be rude, talk in a common language

I recently watched a movie called “Water for Elephants”.

A circus owner buys an elephant and expects the elephant to behave and obey his order in and outside of the ring. The circus owner makes the elephant part of his show and orders her around. The elephant does not obey the orders, the owner pokes her harshly with bull horn before she runs out of the ring. The owner is angry and then beats her badly with the bull horn. She is badly wounded and in a lot of pain. This is when, accidentally the “Hero” of the show discovers that the elephant does not understand English but was previously trained in another language. From there on, the story was sorted out and kind of had a happy ending.

Getty Images - http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/515020333
Getty Images – http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/515020333

This reminded me of various situations that I have witnessed where people are not talking in the same language – i.e. common intentions, perspectives or common understanding that both parties would appreciate. From this point onwards, most situations go downhill, even if it was for a short while.

The key lesson – talk in a language that the other person/team would understand. See the world from her perspective first before putting down a proposal of mutual benefit. When selling a solution, see the problem from a customer’s angle and then propose a mutually beneficial solution. The sale will certainly become easier then before. Before blaming or punishing a child, put yourself in that child’s shoes and think why he/she did what was done. This could lead a different conversation all together. As a project manager try to wear the glasses that a developer wears to see the challenge/world through her eyes and why something is taking longer than it should. May be, this will allow you to come up with a better solution and improve your relationship with that developer too!

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