Immigrating to Canada, from England, I expected to experience a change in culture. 13 years later I still have moments when I find myself inadvertently saying or doing something based on being born and raised in England.
Even moving within Canada I’ve found that there are different cultural expectations.
However, one of the most difficult areas to manage is that of language. Words that I understand to have one meaning or common use either have different meanings or are not used in common language.
An example of this came up the other day when I commented on a friend’s post that the original poster hadn’t ‘learnt’ to spell. Several people jumped on my comment calling me a hypocrite, as to them the word ‘learnt’ should only be spelled ‘learned’. Upon investigation I found that the word ‘learnt’ is not in common usage in North America, but is commonly used in England.
Another lesson learned!
Within Canada the concept of vacation homes changes even within a single province. In northern Ontario a ‘camp’ is a vacation home. Usually, fully equipped will full indoor plumbing and heat, even if not accessible all year round. In southern Ontario, that ‘camp’ would be a ‘cottage’.
Now in England, a camp would be somewhere that you set up a tent. No electricity or running water provided.
So even though we share a common language navigating through the nuances of a different culture can be extremely difficult.
Then add to that the fact that I’m deaf and guessing at what you’re saying 90% of the time you can imagine that communication gets very confusing, and downright entertaining, at times.
Putting that aside, and just thinking about general conversation Celeste Headlee, in her TedTalk, has a list of 10 ways to have a better conversation.
Personally, I think that the most important point that she makes though is number 9 – remember to listen. Listen with the intent to understand, rather than to reply.