for a strong, fast pick-me-up
Lots of laughs and cross-cultural communication today at my son’s cross country at school today.
I love hanging out with the parents originally from South Africa and finding out:
1. their expressions I find unusual
2. Australian expressions they find funny and unusual.
Often, it’s the “little things” – like the mum who thought a whipper snipper was something “kinky”.
She just “heard” the whip part 🙂
For those who don’t know – in Australia, a whipper snipper cuts down weeds.
The mum said that in South Africa they call it a weed eater. In the US they call it a brush cutter or a weed whacker.
Mmmm – Whacker is a word to be careful of in Australia unless you are talking about the WACA – the Western Australian cricket stadium.
Also, two South African mums were talking about having a nice “flattie” for dinner.
I thought a flattie might be a flathead fish – but apparently in South Africa – a flattie is a flattened chicken.
We had lots of laughs – but in a business context cross-cultural miscommunication is no laughing matter – well it can be – but the laughs can get in the way of serious business.
I often help executives from different backgrounds. I will listen to their speech or presentation and point out any expressions that could be “lost in translation” and cause problems.
One South African exec I worked with told of how in an important, serious presentation, his Australian audience kept sniggering when he said a certain word.
He was talking about making warning sounds – as you would when drivers beep the horns of cars.
Except he used a different expression. He kept talking about “hooters” – which has a different meaning in other parts of the world.
So I encourage you, if you are speaking or presenting to an audience from a different background (even if they are from English-speaking backgrounds such as the US, UK or South Africa) – get a “local” to hear your presentation to find any “problem words”.
Locals can take out their hooters – and use their whipper snippers to cut out any problem words!
Here’s a link to another post about the dangers of cross-cultural communication.
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These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, cross-cultural communication etc. I like to help people COPE.