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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