When I am asked to explain how my five-step CLEAR method can be helpful to a client in a single sentence, this is what I say: it is a way to build bridges, instead of walls, when communicating across cultures. I have observed, from decades of experience in a variety of cultures, that most of us have been conditioned to communicate in a particular way. I have also seen firsthand how even in our native languages and cultures, those habitual ways of communicating can sometimes result in erecting walls of words that result in conflict, rather than collaboration.
Over the years of working within intercultural businesses, I have observed how people transfer their habitual ways of communicating when using English, either as a native or foreign language, to intercultural business contexts. I have also observed that, regardless of what culture we come from, when we experience problems in communication, many of us are not entirely comfortable or satisfied. However, we don’t know what to do differently.
In all my products and services, I help my clients to take very specific action to learn a different way of communicating. My aim is always to help them increase effective action and satisfaction for both them and their listeners and readers. As one client said to me recently at the end of our sessions together, “As long as you keep the other person’s concerns in mind, then you are always communicating effectively.” Exactly. My CLEAR method is as much an attitude as a process.
I am also always on the lookout for others who have similar intentions and offer processes for approaching this age-old human dilemma of how to work together more harmoniously. A client recently introduced me to the approach of Marshall Rosenberg, creator of Nonviolent Communication. For the past 40 years Rosenberg has been working with people around the world with the intention of having words be windows, rather than walls. In the video below, which includes French subtitles, he explains the basics of his Nonviolent Communication process at the beginning of one of his workshops.
Rosenberg has also worked as a mediator in countries such Israel, Palestine, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Brazil, Russia, Rwanda, Burundi, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Serbia and Croatia. Here is a video of him recounting some of his experiences.
His message, like mine, is that regardless of our culture we can find common ground by learning to use language differently. I remain convinced that all of us can practice using language to build more bridges and fewer walls