Yesterday I went to the corner store to buy salt. Despite my best efforts to speak clearly, I ended up with a bottle of “sauce” and blank stares when I shook my head no. This is not the first time I’ve had this experience. Every time I get into an auto rickshaw, I state my destination slowly, pause, and then repeat. Usually on the second attempt, the driver is able to understand my accent and will take me to the right place.
I have developed a deep gratitude for the experience of being misunderstood, as I let it open my heart to become more understanding and patient with others. I wonder how many times a friend or loved one was trying to tell me something and felt like I did at the corner store. With each interaction, I am becoming more adept at the skills required for clear communication: Identify the most important information and say that first; anything else will just confuse the message. Eye contact and gestures go a long way. Have a sense of humor and be willing to try again. A generous heart can overcome some of the most daunting obstacles.