Understanding Australian culture & humour through active listening
This is a bit awkward . . . I’m from the USA, so how can I help people understand a culture that is also foreign to me?
I may not have uttered words such as chook, rellos, Tassie or arvo before coming here, but I can now speak with most Australians confidently. Equally important: I understand Australian humour, which is very different from humour in the USA.
My academic experience in cultural studies has helped me break the ice with Aussies, as I know how to analyse culture in order to gain empathy and understanding.
But no amount of academic training prepared me to gain expertise in one key area: active listening.
Learn to listen to fit in
Leaders from Richard Branson (Virgin Group) to Keven Sharer (Amgen) state that, as leaders, the most important thing they can do is listen. Articles on the importance of listening have appeared in publications such as Forbes and the Harvard Business Review. Many Ted speakers speak eloquently of the importance of developing this skill. Surprising as it may seem, learning to listen is a skill that can be cultivated and improved. When you do this, the following things happen:
- People like you
- People remember you
- You can speak with anyone
- You can start understanding Aussie humour!
Many of my clients have come to me, stating that their English needs work. After meeting with them, we have realised that their English is fine, but they have not gotten out of their comfort-zone bubble to explore what makes Australians tick: the tv shows, the sports, the current events and how humour can actually tie all this together.
Perhaps it’s not your pronunciation that is holding you back: could it be that you need to learn to culturally connect with colleagues or future employers?
Learn to actively listen.
I offer workshops in active listening in the workplace, or active listening for networking.