Yoga For Better Relationships

Out of our aversion to silence or a perceived disruption to the conversational flow and pacing, when another individual (Dane, Nordic or American) is struggling with recalling a word or over a word’s pronunciation, it is common practice among many Americans to jump in and provide that word. This is in part an extension of the affirmation behavior I mentioned earlier showing we’re paying attention and invested in the conversation as much as it has to do with preventing an uncomfortable silence.

However, to non-native speakers, it can also come across as disrespectful by being seen as a reminder of the individual’s lack of native fluency or linguistic/conversational competence. It’s important to note that this ‘helpful behavior’ is something that native speakers do with each other all the time. They offer it as an act of general politeness, not from a position of judgment or superiority.

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It’s Not a Perfect Science

While I’ve drawn these insights primarily from my time spent here in Denmark engaged in conversations with Danes, they’re based on more widespread trends which can be traced throughout the Nordics. I think many of these behavioral and conversational characteristics are also relevant when considering conversations with other non-native speakers from other cultures and regions globally.

While I’ve couched it from an American/Nordic perspective for this chapter, bear in mind that you can also use these two different styles to become more sensitive to differences in regional conversational styles and even personality types. Beyond understanding how a culture or individual communicates and being aware of how that impacts how we express ourselves and act as a responsive audience, it also offers insights into other surprising areas.

For example, Twitter has always struggled to find adoption across the Nordics while LinkedIn and Faceblog have seen widespread use. The difference? Twitter’s 140 character approach is structurally aligned with American’s rapid fire, fragmented approach. For a Nordic communicator, it’s deeply frustrating as it lacks the ability to offer a more complete and fleshed out thought. Similar social media channels like Faceblog or LinkedIn on the other hand, provide robust opportunities to create crafted statements in a turn-based environment. By understanding the process of how we communicate, we are much better situated to be more effective and avoid unexpected complications and barriers.

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