Learn to Translate

Let’s assume you have learned to Direct Your Uniqueness. (I can help you if you’re not sure on that).

You will still face challenges as you focus your strengths for the benefit of others, while acknowledging your weaknesses.

The primary challenge is that “no man is an island” and you will have to interact with others.

The good news is that you are not the only unique person on this planet. The hard news is that this means you are not the same as those with whom you interact!

A key skill we develop, after discovering individual uniqueness, is learning to translate.

Which of your circle are the hardest to communicate with? It’s probably because you are each speaking your own language and misunderstanding the other. I remember a season in our lives where Jane and I worked in a community of young volunteer workers from all over the world. Thirty or more enthusiastic young men and women, drawn together by the desire to serve others and learn English. The cultural misunderstandings were sometimes hilarious (and occasionally painful)!

It’s the same in our day to day life. Your difficult colleague or family member may not be speaking the same language as you. Learning to translate is key!

Each unique blend of communication styles has needs, and filters through which we approach communication. Any difficulty in communication can be addressed, and often resolved, by uncovering the other person’s communication need.

Maybe your challenging person is characterized by action. If your approach is usually slow and thoughtful, it may need to be translated into acknowledging their need and offering what you can to help meet it: “I know this is important to you and you want to move it forward. I want to help achieve that, so if you can give me an hour to think it over, I’ll come back to you with my best ideas”.

You may be trying to interact with a person who is primarily emotive; they feel every feeling, and want everyone to be part of the solution to any challenge. This would be difficult if you are strong in planning and resourcefulness, and have already worked out the best way to do things. Here the translation might look like this: “I know this challenge is hard for us, and it feels overwhelming, but I have some ideas of what we can do. Could you get with one or two others who are affected by this, and see what they feel about these ideas, so we can go forward with as much input as possible?”

These “translation” approaches can serve to bring people together, rather than misunderstanding driving them apart. And the onus to translate falls on those who already understand themselves. But it’s not all one-sided. If you are struggling to communicate with someone who doesn’t understand themselves well, you can offer to help them discover their profile. Once they know their uniqueness better, you can share your profile with them, and you will both benefit from mutual understanding of your differences!