A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: L is for LISTENING and LANGUAGE

Ernest Hemingway once said: “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”  And unfortunately he was (and he is still) right – most people don’t listen.  They hear but they don’t really listen.  Usually this is what happens when someone is telling us a story: we engage in our own internal listening.  We either remember that something similar has happened to us and we begin constructing an answer in our heads about our own story; or we find ourselves bored and thinking of something else; or we remember about something we need to do and begin to worry about it; or… etc etc etc.  We are never really 100% there – focused on the words and the energy of what’s being spoken.

Listening fully is essential to understanding and establishing connections with people.  And understanding and establishing connections with people are essential to creating a successful and fun experience as an expatriate.  Next time you are engaged in a conversation, try this exercise: put your entire attention at another person and every time you notice your thoughts going elsewhere, bring them back.  What do you hear?  What do you observe?  And what do you hear between the lines?

Listening fully also means listening to what’s not being said in words.  It’s listening to what’s important to that person, to what makes them tick, to what upsets them.  If you make an effort and really listen to someone next time, you’ll be surprised to find out how much you can actually learn about that person.

Knowing the language goes hand in hand with knowing how to listen. Each language brings with it a certain way of interacting – and, again, as you listen, you’ll be learning these ways and, in addition to connecting with a person, you’ll also be connecting with their language.

What are your thoughts on this?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

And remember to check out our on-line courses on Culture Shock, Expat Know-How and on Cross-Cultural Training at the Global Coach Center Academy!

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

2 responses to “A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: L is for LISTENING and LANGUAGE

  1. There are certain techniques to develop listening skills, concentration on what is really said instead of own interpretations, the skill oh so crucial for those living in a multi-cultural society and those surrounded by ‘strangers’. Unfortunately, our minds are programmed to make associations, links to e.g. previous experience or believes and ideas we have got through our education.

  2. globalcoachcenter

    One technique to develop listening skills is a coach-approach to conversation. And another one is self-management… not easy, but very doable!

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