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An act of communication
Published by: Hugo Mechelse
Published on: 05-01-2017 3:08 PM
Pageviews: 1201

By Hugo R. Mechelse, sr instructor and MD at International Butlers

Communication is possibly the most difficult and most underestimated aspect in providing service. This does not only account for hospitality but also for a private environment. Good communication can save you from a lot of challenges, calamities or just ‘lost of trust’.

We so very often, as an act of human behaviour, assume or fill-in what we think other people want to hear, or want to say, how they think or what they know. Is it laziness, or a cultural thing (e.g. losing face), or ignorance? I think there can be many reasons for a person, for you, not to listen or communicate well.

When communicating we convey a message. But for this message to be effective and understood, we need to know who it is receiving. The receiver of a message has a background that defines how a message is received and interpreted. If we do not know the receiver well, even when you are talking the same language, the message should be as specific as possible, avoiding any room for mis-interpretation. We do this by using specific references, and by avoiding words like ‘this’, ‘that’, or ‘it’.    

Also asking questions to double check whether the message has been received well and understood helps the communication and to build trust with the receiver. In some cultures it might be less accepted or appreciated to ask (a lot of) questions, but, especially as a personal service provider, it does help us to avoid going off the road. Generally speaking it adds to the trust-level and enhanced approachability.

An incident is easily born when we take communication for granted. In any new situation over-communication has never killed anybody. Once we know at what level of knowledge, cultural background, formality or any other aspect we have to convey a message or information, we can relax.

A nice example of a culturally defined language use is the use of ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Cultures  can differ in the meaning of ‘yes’ and ‘no’, as ‘yes’ does not always mean that something will happen or is true. Also the context can cause confusing. For example, ‘yes, it is not going to rain’, or ‘no, it is not going to rain’ are both correct and as such well understood. But if we stick to a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ it could be confusing. So, instead of answering with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it is better to make a full sentence , to support, and make clear what you mean with this yes or no.

Also ‘not communicating’ in itself, is communicating as well. If you refrain from contact it can tell a story in itself and might put people on the wrong foot. I always state that ‘no information’ is also information. When somebody needs an answer or has a request it is important to keep this person regularly updated of the situation. This again builds trust and enhanced the approachability. Not contacting the other person could imply that you don’t know ‘yet’, or that you actually do not want to tell the other person the answer, as it could be bad news, or that you are currently too busy, that you forgot, or even that you simply don’t want to have any further contact. Anything is possible, but whatever the reason it does not help the trust-level, and the respect one has for the one other.

And remember that it ‘takes two to dance a tango’. Communication is between two or more people. You can never blame one party if something goes wrong. Now, as a personal service provider for sure we are much more focussed on getting the job done well, releasing the guest or the private person from thinking too much. I always state that we have to think ‘for and with’ the other person. In the end though, if there turns out to be a mis-understanding, or loss of information, as a personal service provider, I will feel personally responsible. This is part of our passion to be excellent. But unfortunately nobody is perfect. The best we can do is always to be aware of this key element in our daily operations.

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