There was an englishman, an irishman and a scotsman….

Beside us in the cheap and relatively cheerful italian-ish restaurant tonight sat three young guys. An Chinese guy, a Frenchman and a Brazilian. Heads leaned in, creating their own private space in this noisy place. English, not a first language for any of them, was their shared language. With their oh so imperfect english they seemed to understand each other perfectly.

It made me think about how when there is a will to communicate, you can. How often it can be however that people let the reputation of others, built up fairly or unfairly over time, get in the way of really understanding not just what they say but what they mean. How easy it is for those reputations to build. People make assumptions and judgements based on what they see or hear or think they have seen or heard, and then thereafter seek evidence that backs their assumptions. And if you look, you can always find such evidence and put aside anything that doesnt fit the assumptions you hold so dearly.

I enjoy coming in new to organisations and getting a picture of what’s going on. Who is listened to and who not and why does that seem to be so ? How did someone who speaks so passionately about the importance of good working relationships and her desire to be liked, get to be seen as an unhelpful obstacle you need to work around ? How is it that the most senior person in a room sometimes can seem to be the least influential ? How do those stalemate relationships and conversations come about and why is it they feel so intractable to those involved?

I started this blog with an observation about my dining neighbours, not knowing where this would go. I feel a blog on organisational communications coming on – but that’s one for my work blog! So….

So where was i ? Ah yes…there was an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman….

A cultural british reference for my non british blog readers. So many jokes start this way over here and depending on whether you tell it in Ireland, England or Scotland, the buffoon of the story, the butt of the joke changes.

3 guys at a table, sharing animated enjoyable conversation in a language that wasn’t any of theirs. Their intention being to make the communications work, to create something positive together. Very different from the 3 sets of english language speakers in the jokes.Less sharing, more false assumptions, more disagreement and ego.

Where there is a will there is a way, they say.


8 thoughts on “There was an englishman, an irishman and a scotsman….”

  1. One of the things we love about being in North Cyprus is that the people are friendly, open and extraordinarily helpful. We can’t speak Turkish but we manage to communicate, often in mime. The young people at our local supermarket are amazed my husband wears flip-flops in winter without socks, he just doesn’t feel the cold in his feet, so the other day a young man took off his shoes, gestured to my husband to do the same, they stood there shoeless, with other staff watching, and then high-fived each other. And everyone stood around roaring with laughter!

  2. I just love this line – “How did someone who speaks so passionately about the importance of good working relationships and her desire to be liked, get to be seen as an unhelpful obstacle you need to work around?” I’ve worked with a few of these people in my day! 😀

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