Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Where's the Museum?

In my younger days I fancied traveling. After graduation I packed up my thing [yes, my thing as I had not much more] and headed off to Europe. In Spain I toured around and made my way to Pamplona, as all young men in Europe must do, so as to see the running of the bulls. I learned a great deal about life on that trip.

Pamplona is like most other cities in Spain; the locals speak Spanish. Not shocking to me but worth noting.

I happened across an incidence that I see very nearly daily in varying concepts. While waiting for a bus a young man, obviously not from the area, walked over to what appeared to be a local and in English asked for directions.

"Where is the museum?" I heard him ask in a nice polite voice.

A distant look was all that returned to him. He asked again and this time he got a shrug of the shoulders with that same blank look.

Taking matters into his own hands this traveler slowed down his speach and increased the volume a notch.

"WHERE...IS...THE...MUSEUM?!"

Now our voiceless local was looking perplexed and possibly even a little scared. Why was this man yelling at him? His eyes opened wider, he shrugged again and responded in Spanish quite meekly. I can only suggest he was saying "I don't know what you are saying" but it could have been "stop yelling at me" for all I know of the Spanish language.

Once more the return from the bus traveler came and this time his voice was bellowing and the tone was of complete frustration.

"WHERE...IS...THE...MUSEAM?!!!" "Bloody fool, I'm trying to talk to you. What's wrong with you?"

Of course, he never received directions. He never quite made a connection with this local and he probably added to the stereotype of all entitled travelers that had come through that city.

This is not an isolated case of miscommunication. In fact it is all too familiar even when two parties are speaking the same language.

Yelling louder is not always the answer. Sometimes finding the right words to say have more of a dramatic affect on the result both parties want.

When someone doesn't understand what you are saying it is your responsibility to change how you deliver the message. Saying it louder never works.

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