You Say Tomato

Original illustration by Sara Franklin*

You say tomato, I say tom-ah-toe…

Differences make the world go round.

Because many of us work across cultures, geographies and industries, how we use language matters.

But it’s more than adjusting for an accent.

It’s rather like traveling to a foreign country. Happy, successful travelers don’t expect locals to behave in the same way as their home countrymen. They go in expecting to adapt. They observe, ask questions and learn to appreciate the local culture.

When taking on a new client or project, you want to become part cultural anthropologist: observing their customs and rituals as you explore how best to communicate. Learning their unique acronyms and how they address and treat each other (and outsiders) permits you to dig deeper.

You use your knowledge of the client’s language and culture and fit to ask penetrating questions—in a way that actually gets them answered. You walk that fine line between staying objective and being in-synch enough to understand your client. The end result? Better advice with better outcomes.

Tom-ah-toe anyone?

*Thanks to Sara Franklin for the inspiration and artwork for this post.


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7 Responses to You Say Tomato

  1. Marcelino says:

    Agreed! Not only is this a great way to build trust and good will, it also can be quite enlightening as you try to understand the whole system.

  2. Corey Bearak says:

    Culture can be so important. I have several times represented clients who were “ultra-Orthodox” Satmar Hasidic Jews. There are special things I had to and did learn. I am sure the second and third representations followed the trust I built the first time out.

  3. Thanks for contributing Marcelino and Corey. Glad to see you both enjoy that cultural immersion that comes with working with a new client. It’s part of what keeps consulting interesting!

  4. What if i created a blog with the same name as other blog accidentally? is that legal?
    My blog is about Back Pain Relief.

  5. You want to get legal advice in this area–it’s a small investment that can pay big dividends. Your attorney will research similar/identical registrations and help you determine whether you’re infringing on the rights of someone else, or how to secure a trade name for your business/blog. You can also search the US patent and trademark website TESS

  6. Rochelle,

    I love the message on your “You Say Tomato” post… it is so true. I just started a new venture in employee benefits with a new partner. I will defintely be sending her a copy of your post. Thank you!

  7. Congratulations on your new venture Alice! I have no doubt you’ll make it successful, as always…

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