3 Vital Communication Tips That Can Radically Improve Your Intercultural Relationships

Dealing with people of different cultures can be difficult. For some reason, some people from some cultures are more difficult to speak with than others. Today’s business climate most likely requires you to interact with a variety of people from different cultures. How can you make sure that you create the best possible relationship with them? Easy.

Most cultures love the same fundamental things: being listened to, integrity, and calmness.

Practicing these three tips can make sure you honor the 3 fundamental ideals listed above.

Stay present. When communicating with people of other cultures, it is easy to allow our side-thoughts to interrupt our concentration. A word, a behaviour, a concept expressed by someone of another culture can cause us to drift off and not concentrate on listening effectively. Someone’s skin color, smell, and the prejudices we may carry can effect our ability to stay focused and listen properly. But, making sure we concentrate past these distractions is a key to maintaining or building a good relationship between you and your cross-cultural conversation partner.

Staying present and listening intently is vital to improving all relationships, regardless of race or culture. So stay present and focus on listening.

Say what you mean gently, but say what you mean anyway. When dealing with people of other cultures, practicing the indirect method of communication or harshly direct method that may be normally practiced in your home culture can cause problems.

Therefore, consider taking the middle ground. This simply involves you saying what you mean in a way that is both direct and gentle. A soft respectful directness will do wonders for your intercultural relationships. It will develop trust. And that way there will be no doubt about the mind of the other. Such will enable you to have a deep understanding of one another, and a respect for the other.

Integrity in communication is always valued. Even if the honest, gentle directness may cause a few uncomfortable moments, generally people value the truth. The truth leaves no room for doubt. And that makes clear action and decision making possible.

What kind of actions are included in soft respectful directness? Well, instead of saying a quick NO, you might pause a moment. Reflect. Then say, "that will not work for me." Or, instead of saying YES when you mean NO. Say, "Thank you, but we have different plans." (No further explanation needed).

Each of these will require practice. But using them can vastly improve the relationship between you.

Think before Acting. It is so easy to react to someone when we interpret their actions through our own cultural filter. Someones directness we may interpret as rudeness. Yet, before we react to a personal interpretation, you should think.

So, pause. Take a moment. Breathe. Focus on your breath. Think. Then act.

Assessing before opening your mouth, or before taking action can save a lot of relationships from entering into trouble. Try to understand the other persons perspective. Allow others to be as they are. Live and let live.

Try not to mind read what their actions may mean. Simply focus on facts. Emotions can create real troubles when you deal with someone from your own culture, and can be very explosive when communicating with someone from another culture.

Remember that we all have our own interpretation machine that’s been programmed by our own culture, and that we should recognize that one way is not necessarily right and the other completely wrong. Both are unique. Perhaps you can practice the concept of AGREEMENT TO DISAGREE.

The same reflection should be considered when the interaction seems favorable too. Sometimes someone's YESes do mean NO.

Bottom line, always think. Then act. (Asking for clarification, "What do you mean?" is a great assessment tool.)

These simple considerations can help you create great intercultural relationships. Practice them and see what becomes of it. You are sure to like what you find. If you have more tips to add, feel free to add them into the comments section.

All for now.


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3 Things You Should Remember When Making Speech

As an audience member, there is nothing worse than listening to a speaker who lacks clarity, whose speech is filled with complexity beyond all comprehension, and whose purpose for speaking is merely to receive praise. A few weeks ago, I sat listening to a speaker who had no idea what they were talking about. The person talked a little about the weather, then turned a corner into talking about how the earth is made of iron, and followed this with a transition into a journey they took on a sailboat when they were twelve. The conclusion attempted to piece together the process of recycling, and how we should all do our part to save the whales.

I looked around the room, and people had strings of drool attached from their open mouth to the desk. They, like me, were showing CLEAR SIGNS that the speaker had failed to make their speech either interesting, clear, or memorable.

As a speaker, it’s your job to be good. It’s your job to be interesting. It’s your job to be clear. And it is your absolute job to be memorable.

How do you do this?

Of course, nothing comes immediately. Learning to speak interestingly, clearly and memorably takes time and patience. But, remembering these things will at least begin to make your talks better….for both you and the audience.

Most importantly, know the intention of your speech. If you’re not sure of why you are talking, then don’t talk. Figure this first. Why do you want to talk? Do you want to receive praise? Or do you want the audience to do something, learn something, feel something? If you do not know this, then you’re not ready to speak.

For beginning speakers, I think you should not try to make your purpose too complicated. Keep it simple. For example, the person above was trying to tell us about the process of recycling.

The person could have talked about the process of recycling an alumninum can. The person could have led us along the path of a can being returned to a recycling center, and then took us on the path of what happens after that. The person could have used the step approach. First this, then this, next this, finally this. Finished! Instead, they stood pontificating their wisdom, hoping to God that we the audience will see how brilliant and esoteric the person is, see how well read the person is, notice how amazing the person is.

Sadly, all we saw was how dull the person is.

A clear purpose will keep the dull grey from forming in your audiences eyes. For the recycling idea, the purpose could have been: to describe the process of recycling of an aluminum can.

There you have it. It’s clear. It’s concise. It’s simple. It’s manageable. Ahhh…but you might ask yourself…. “It’s too simple, won’t people be bored?”

That’s where the second tip comes in. Whenever you are writing a speech, it’s vital to ask yourself:

What will the audience leave with? What will they take with them after my talk?

In the case of the aluminum can, the audience will have a clear understanding of the process of recycling….at least, aluminum cans. Will this solve the world’s problems, make people better on earth? I don’t know. Probably not too much. But it will be interesting because probably most people don’t know it. (Of course, if you’re talking to engineers or recycling experts, this might be common knowledge, but…a general audience, say at a Toastmasters meeting, might be interested to learn this tiny bit of information).

So remember, what will the audience take with them after hearing your speech?

Finally, quit the complexity. You may have read a 100 books on the subject you are talking about. You may know a tonne of information about recycling, but so what? So what, unless you can convey to me and the rest of the audience, who know nothing, what you learned?

To convey to us what you learned, you have to accept your limitations. A book with 100 pages of information cannot be crammed into a seven minute speech, a ten minutes speech, a twenty minute speech. (Not usually, anyhow….and especially with not any depth). What can be done is this. You can take a tiny part of that book and a) fully understand it yourself, and b) decomplexify it. Make it so the average person understands. Teach it to us. We won’t know all that you know at the end of the speech, but that’s okay. If you make that tiny little piece clear and understandable, then we will want to know more. …and you will have a job. You will have the job of making more speeches so that we understand more.

When things are so complex that you the speaker can’t convey with clarity, then there is a problem. Usually a person who complexifies their topic does so because they think that that makes them smart. But true genius is the ability to turn complex into something easy for us normal folk can understand.

You’ll find that if you really work on your purpose, that if you focus on what the audience will take away from the speech, and that if you try to talk about a sliver of information in a way that is completely decomplexified, that the reaction to your speeches will improve. They’ll improve because they will become clearer, easier for the audience to understand.

So you should remember these three things to make your speeches more clear, more interesting, and more memorable.

If you’d like more specific information on how to go about decomplexifying, repurposing, or determining the gift that you’ll be giving, write me a request in the comment hole.

Check Out This Site.


4 Super Ways To Find Your Next Speech Topic

Finding a speech or writing topic can be difficult. It sometimes gets more difficult the further along you get. In fact, I believe a lot of people quit speaking or writing because of the difficulty they have finding a topic.

Don't quit! You've got great stuff inside you, and we want to hear and read about it.

There are many ways to find a topic. Today I’m going to tell you 4 SUPER ways.

Of course you've heard of brainstorming. Well, today’s tip is a specific form of brainstorming.

I believe in the power of questions. Questions help me focus my creative efforts. If I have a good question to guide me, usually that does the trick of helping me find a good topic for myself. Not always, but often enough. If they work for me, they will certainly help you.

Here are four questions to help you find a topic.

Got your pens and pencils ready?

  1. What unusual experiences have you had?
  2. What special knowledge or expertise do you have?
  3. What strong opinions and beliefs do you have?
  4. What would you like to know more about?

Answering each of these questions one at a time by writing the first things that come to mind can help you find what you are looking for. Don't edit what you write. Just write. It's what I've done below as an example.

What unusual experiences have I had? (Don’t compare yourself with others). What’s unusual for me? Well, the other night I was in my friends house. In the sink was a strange looking creepy crawly insect that scared me. That might be a topic. Could it make an interesting speech or essay? Absolutely!

What special knowledge or expertise do I have? (Again, don’t compare. “I don’t have any” is not true. It’s only true if you compare it to others. Just think what’s true for you).

I’m a pretty good speaker. I can write a decent speech. Perhaps I can tell someone how to write a speech.

What strong opinions do I have? I hate child abuse! I could write a speech about that. (Of course, some topics you want to pay attention to how they might affect the audience. But… for the most part, don’t worry. Just speak!)

What would I like to know more about? I’d like to know more about finance. So, I can study this and make a speech about some aspect of finance.

So there you are. I’ve given you four questions that can help guide you on a path to finding your topic. Remember not to compare yourself. I find comparisons block me from the right topic for me to speak about.

Of course, once you find your topic, you then have to do the hard work of narrowing it down into a manageable speech topic. On hints about how to do that, check out here.

This post was inspired by Jo Sprague & Douglas Stuart's book.

Do You Make This Speech Writing Mistake?

Finding a speech topic to talk about is difficult enough. All that thinking and working and coming to find what you feel confident talking about can be stressful. But sometimes the stress becomes worse when we realize that our subject matter is too general. I hate it when that happens.

Last week I wrote an article about personal branding. As soon as I started to write, I realized I needed to tighten my focus. Personal branding was too general to write about in 800 words.

To focus my essay, I needed a trick to help me. Once I did, the words flew from my pencil. Whenever you have a limited & focused speech topic, your speech can practically write itself. If you keep your topic general, you’ll keep having the same old troubles.

So, to narrow your topic, practice these tips:

Narrow your subject to one example or one individual that represents that subject.

For example, if your general subject is money, you narrow it to the example of The Thai Bhat. Or you might narrow it to the person Warren Buffet.

You can also narrow your subject to a specific experience.

For example, if your subject is money, you could narrow your subject to The trip you took to the bank last week.

You can narrow your subject to a specific time or place.

For example, if your general subject is Water Shortages, you could narrow your topic to The water shortage in Seoul. Or you could narrow it to the Korean water shortage of August 2008.

Lastly, you can narrow your subject to a specific type or kind. A condition. Or you can limit it to a specific procedure or process.

For example, if your general subject is Water Shortages, you could narrow your topic to Water shortages caused by drought. Or, you might narrow it to How a water shortage happens.

It’s important to narrow, because it keeps your speech interesting. And, it keeps it easy for an audience to understand, as well as for you to write. If you try and make a speech that has both a specific place and a specific process in it, your speech will be too difficult to manage in a short amount of time. So don’t do it. Keep it simple! Do that and you’ll have great speeches.

So stop making the messy mistake of making things too general. Do better and you’ll soon be better.



What Everyone Should Know About Communication

Everyone thinks. Yes, some think more than others. No matter the frequency of thought, each of you has a mind that pumps out ideas, alternatives, imaginings and whims. It is your imaginings that this article will deal with.

The great general Napoleon once said that imagination rules the world. Einstien claimed that imagination is everything. And author James Allen wrote that our life is what our thoughts make it.

What do these famous people mean when they say what they say?

When it comes to communication, the concepts contained in those quotes are vital to your becoming the best communicators you can become.

It is your imagination that determines how well you communicate with others. Specifically, it is the imagined interpretations of another’s perception that determines in large part how well you communicate in all its forms.

In 1902, Charles Horton Cooley discovered a concept called The Looking Glass Self. The basic idea of this concept is that a person’s sense of self is created out of your interpersonal interactions and the perceptions you form from these. In short:
  1. We imagine how we must appear to others.
  2. We imagine the judgment of that appearance.
  3. We develop our self through the judgments of others.
From Yeung, King-To, and Martin, John Levi. "The Looking Glass Self: An Empirical Test and Elaboration." Social Forces 81, no. 3 (2003): 843-879.
Think about it. If I think you like me, if I think you like the way I look, I feel good. If I am with people who consistently praise me and like me, then my self-concept is formed in a way that is confident and strong. That habit of thinking is reinforced over time. With that reinforcement comes the ability to communicate with strength.

The opposite is true too. If I think you do not like me, if I think you do not enjoy the way I look, probably I will feel poorly. If I am with people who consistently confirm this, if I am with people who constantly put me down, then my self-concept is formed in a way that reflects that. Inferiority, weakness, and timidity become my personality traits. That habit is reinforced over time. And with that reinforcement comes the ability to communicate weakly, shyly, unconvincingly and without emotion.

This is important to understand in your quest to become better communicators.

It is important, because if you have a good trust in the love of others, you can face almost any audience, knowing that in all you will be accepted. You can trust your message, and you can trust your ability to communicate it. If you have formed a positive self-concept, you feel free to speak your truth, regardless of it’s acceptance of people.

The idea of the looking glass self is important too because if you suffer from a weak concept, then the awareness of this as an internal block to your being effective can lead to change. To be a strong communicator, it is vital that you change any negative imaging habits.

Of course, to change is not easy. It never is. All change requires willingness. Mostly, it requires acceptance of the fact that the pain of changing is less than the pain of staying the same. As well, a real desire to be different and better. Finally, it requires a decision to dig inside onself and look at the thoughts and beliefs that block you.

The bottom line is that your communication effectiveness or ineffectiveness is due to how you react to your own imaginations. If I learned to think that people generally do not like me, that thought will flash in my imagination in nearly all my interactions. The effect of that thought, are words that communicate my basic beliefs. My attitude will speak loudly through body language, tone of voice, choice of vocabulary.

You must arrest these automatic reactions to your imaginings, to your assumptions of other people’s thinking. You must learn to stop mind reading, thinking that you KNOW what another is thinking of us. You must stop assuming you know how people are judging you.

(Unless you are confident already, in which case, keep doing what you are doing. You’re well on your way. For the rest of you, you’re lucky. You’re lucky because you have an obstacle in your life to overcome. You have something to work against, to develop your character against. It’s tough and difficult, but in the end—if you persevere—you will find yourself stronger than you ever believed.)

When you assume the judgment of others, you react negatively toward yourself. This is silly.

The truth is, you do not know how others are thinking. You have no right to guess at that. Most likely, your reaction and guess is entirely wrong. And besides, what other people think of you is none of your business. Your business is learning to communicate to the best of your ability in whatever capacity. Your business is learning to speak your truth in a way that people can understand. Your business is to talk, and let the results of your talk be up to God, the universe, your higher power, or nature. Your business is to control your thoughts. Knowledge of Cooley’s Looking Glass Self will help you do that.

The absolute total bottom-line is this: Strong communicators understand the power of their imagination. They harness that power. They use that power. And as a result, they communicate with power.


How To Make Your Speech Focused, Clear And Interesting To Your Listeners

Can you guess the secret of creating a speech that is focused, clear and interesting to your audience? Simply stated, the secret is in learning to ask the right questions.

Let’s back up a bit…

Are you tired of boring your audience? Are you tired of losing their attention immediately after you begin your speech?

Personally, I can think of little worse than watching as an audience, who was at the beginning excited and expectant, begins to drift off and lose their focus on you. I have struggled with this, throughout my short speaking career, a number of times. But, I recently began practicing a technique that really helps me keep the audience interested. The technique is one that will be sure to keep your speech focused, clear and interesting to your listeners.

Of course, we should all be aware by now of the notion that when we speak, we should consider our audience. After all, it is them we are talking to. So, before we even begin writing a speech, we need to ask ourselves what our audience will receive from listening to our speech. If the answer is that they will get a better understanding of you as a speaker, then that is okay for one or two speeches. But, overall, a talking only about yourself becomes boring very quickly.


Because audiences are selfish. As altruistic as they may pretend to be, the bottom line is that an audience is a group of humans—selfish by nature—who are gathered together in the circumstance because they want to get something from the speaker and the speaking situation. We will do WELL to remember this vital, unchangeable, natural law.

That said, we always want to ask ourselves, “how will my speech information help the listeners in their life?” If we cannot answer, then don’t speak about it.
Our speech should have a gift for our audience. (A new insight, a new way of acting, some new relevant information, something for them to think about).

If we can answer the question, then we can proceed.

A speech starts with a topic. …duh?

We need to decide what it is that we will say about the topic. A sentence that contains the topic, and what we will say about the topic is called—one of many names—a thesis. For example, we might be talking about Dogs. Well, what do we want to say about dogs?

Dogs are cute.

Okay. Good example, but a weak thesis. There is no vitality, no real depth to this.

Dogs make great pets.

This is still pretty uninteresting, but it is a little more filled with possibility for discussion. Why? Because there are some questions we can ask of it to define what we mean when we say, “Dogs make great pets.” Can you think of any questions?

For example:

What kind of dogs? Why do they make great pets? What do you mean great? Why should I care?

Choosing and answering these questions in your speech might make it more interesting. For example:

Ladies and gentleman, today I’d like to talk to you about one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Have you any idea what that gift might be?

The greatest gift we can give ourselves is a best friend, a pal who won’t go away when we are angry, a chum who won’t call us stupid, a friend who will always play with us whenever we feel like it. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is…a dog.

Dogs make great pets!!!

Now, do I mean just any kind of dog? No. Some dogs are crazy. Rottweilers are psycho, and I don’t mean them. But pretty much any other kind of dog are awesome. And they are awesome for three reasons.

Dogs make great pets because they are loyal. Who doesn’t love loyalty. A dog will be your best friend whether you kick it, call it names, or treat it like a king.

They make great pets because they always eat the left-overs. You never have to feel guilty for throwing away your uneaten food. If you have a dog, you can feel it the scraps. And let me tell you, the dog will LOVE YOU!!!!

Dogs also make great pets because they’ll keep you safe at night. If you live alone in a big city, it can be scary. But if you have yourself a big dog like a German Sheppard or a Lab, then they will bark loudly if someone tries to break into your apartment. This is good.

To conclude, a great pet is one that makes you feel good, one that brings you joy. We all deserve joy. Joy is a great gift to give ourselves, so I really recommend you consider getting yourself a dog. Because dogs make super awesome pets!

Now this is just a silly example. But you will notice that all of my questions have been answered in the speech. Answering the questions makes things a little more interesting, I think.

But what if we take a topic that is a little more involved? Take, for example:

Practicing these 5 tips can help you give a great phone interview.

This thesis begs quite a few questions that can be worked into a speech.

For example:

What are the tips? How can they help me? When do people do phone interviews? What are the differences between real face to face interviews and phone interviews? When and why do people usually do phone interviews?

Of course, you cannot always answer every question that you can think of. But, you can certainly answer some. Learning to ask your thesis questions is a fantastic way to develop a speech. Answering those questions in your speech will make your speech focused, engaging and interesting to your listeners.

So here are two assignments:
  1. Answer the questions to the thesis above.
  2. Make questions to the thesis below. Post them in my comment board. We can talk about your questions, and maybe I can give some suggestions to help you.
Thesis: Love is the answer to so many problems.

In a later blog, I’ll talk about how to make a good thesis.

All for now.