The Myth-Buster

A few people can connect with anyone, anywhere.

Why is it that in every culture we find a few people who can connect with anyone, everywhere they go, without any particular language skill, or without knowing the intricacies of the culture they are dealing with?—Because these few practise a universally productive code of communication, and they intuitively understand the difference between what is universally natural and what is culturally imposed. And they target similarities, not differences.

For years I have offered a program that teaches the mindset and logic behind this model, and specific skills to practise it. (Global communication for successful leaders, and those who aspire to be, of any age, culture, gender, nationality—or any walk of life.)

Engagement, influence, leadership and productive relationships are to be found by addressing people and issues in ways that appeal universally, to all people—not by propagating myths about how different we are from each other. “Cross-cultural communication” is a big industry, and succeeds in perpetuating myths that perpetuate the industry—a good business model, but I have no time for the gratuitous patronising nonsense I hear, especially in Japan, where I have worked since 1979.

Yes, there are big differences in the way people, talk, decide, interact and do business, and we must understand and embrace them. A good universal communicator picks up these differences quickly and intuitively, with the help of a few intelligent conversations. However, most people remain oblivious, or worse, learn a few bullet points and think they know enough—whether they are locals looking out, or outsiders looking in. Let me take you a few layers deeper, to the common global communication culture shared by humans everywhere.

Leo Tolstoy opened his novel ‘Anna Karenina’ with the words: “Happy families are the same; unhappy families are unhappy in many different ways.” I believe the same of communicators. Effective communicators are all the same; ineffective communicators are each ineffective in different ways. In many examples of cross-cultural training I have seen ineffective ways of communication presented as unique to a particular group, therefore to be emulated as the ‘right’ way to communicate with them. I disagree.

We must always ask ourselves ‘What is most effective?’ and apply observation and thought to finding the answer, not just ‘What do people do?’, because frankly, what most people do is rather ineffective, and following it does not make you a leader. I have seen this in many countries and cultures: none particularly stand out.

I prefer to coach people who have the intellect and wisdom to be drawn to this philosophy.

If that is you—contact me.