Language – Interpreting Ourselves and Others

Having returned and lived here for almost 6 months now—and also having been raised here through university—I think it’s fair to say that I can compare my two home countries. One being Korea, the country where I was literally born, and the other being the United States. It’s an interesting dynamic that goes on in my heart, because I feel so tied to both countries in different ways. My blood and soul belongs in Seoul, Korea (and my birth-town of Yesan-gun). And while I still to this day feel a great sense of comfort there with Koreans that goes much deeper than what I feel in the US, I still also feel a strong sense of belonging here too—there are just some mannerisms that have been ingrained in me from the US that just don’t fit over there.

One commonality that I’ve noticed, between my times in both countries however, is the importance of language; like how it pertains to people’s lives. I don’t just mean verbal, word-driven language either. There are a number of ways that we communicate to each other, and that gives each of us our own powerful, individual “languages” that we use on a daily basis. If you are constantly interacting with people and being social—and believe me, you are—then you are using your individual language.

The Importance of Interpreting “Languages”

What’s important then, is that you learn to interpret other people’s “languages”. That’s because if you want people to understand you, you first need to understand them. Imagine if you went to another country, and someone started talking to you. Let’s also pretend that you had no education of that dialect prior to meeting this person or traveling. How awkward would that feel? You couldn’t get anything done, even something as simple as getting to the bathroom to take care of your business (unless you played charades, but be honest, no one wants to see that)!

The reason why you, I, or anyone else on this planet find more conflicts instead of solutions in our relationships is simply because often times we don’t learn other people’s ways of communicating. Or we don’t care to try to learn, anyway.  What kind of person does that make you then? That makes you one-dimensional and deaf in one ear. That saps away your ability to forge connections and eliminates possibilities that could be awesome in the future.

Everyone is Saying Something

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A number of people waiting for the high-speed train. Original image by: Michael Roach

There’s a particular bible verse that I love about languages. Although it’s delivered to speak in the literal sense of verbal language, I think it applies to all of our ways of communicating to each other for the Spirit’s sake.

10There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me” (1 Corinthians 14:10-11 ESV).

Everyone is saying something with their own language, and so are you! Our brother might not talk much, or might like to evade issues—he is asking for you to be there for him and encourage him through his own means. Our sister might question or even repudiate everything told to her—she is asking for you to lovingly understand her situation and help her learn. On the flip side, you might like to lash out in anger and frustration when really all you are asking, in your own way, is for someone to say they believe in you and really love you for what you are and what you’re doing.

Everyone is saying something. It could be heartbreaking or celebratory, but either way, they want to be heard. People just want to be understood, and want someone to really take the time to listen to them and say, “Yeah, I got you.”

Our Language

Remember too, that how you communicate with your own “language” is the tool to which you can build with others. Take some time to self-reflect on how you communicate to others and what your style of language is. Are you, in an attempt to be helpful, being too condescending or “higher-than-thou?” Take on a heart-first tone and bring yourself to a level of empathy. Are you pushing people away with aggression, or being too forceful in actions? Scale things back and relax a bit, and let others see you are willing to be team and not “me” oriented.

Our mission is to bring others into a family. To build strong, long-lasting and worthwhile connections with people and have everyone “get it”. To make change in the world, and achieve things for the better of everyone, not just ourselves.

In order to do that, we need to take time to study “People 101”.

Written by: Michael “Bboy Roach1” Roach

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Author: f3foranswers

A Christ-first B-boy, writer, and fitness-nut. Owner of the blog "F3 For Answers".

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