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Conversations in a lift


I live on the top 2 floors of an apartment block in Manchester.  It’s a great city with a tremendous mix of people.  A while back, I got in the lift to head out into the city and it began to descend.


A halt and the lift doors open and a Japanese couple get in.  Japanese? Yes, I am pretty certain that they were. She turned to him and spoke briefly in Japanese.  He responded.  I didn’t think that her comments were fair and so I put my twopenny worth in “I can see why you would think that, but the cleaning team look after the building very well and the lift will be spotless by this evening”.


They stepped back in unison, not that easy in a lift.  “Aaah, you speak Japanese?”


“In a way, yes” I replied.  “You see, I speak 93% of all languages”. The lift reached the ground floor and they backed out of the lift with an acknowledging bow.


The interaction was a micro-example of the often misquoted work of Albert Mehrabian that, in emotional language, we gain our understanding of the communication through words, tonality and pace and ‘body language’ in the proportions 7-38-55.  It’s never as simple as that but if the message to be received is to listen with your ears, eyes and instincts then it is a message well delivered.


Within the companies where I act as non-exec, we are always looking at improving communication b2b, b2c and actually c2b as well, through understanding the power of language.


Do you need to talk to your marketplace or your people in a new way or listen to them more effectively?  We are all ways ready to listen.


And no, I don’t speak verbal Japanese :-)




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