This month we’re heading into our penultimate wePRAY focusing on Dan Rockwell’s 7 Universal Competencies for Success. Hopefully the last 5 months have given you plenty of food for thought, proved challenging and ultimately been helpful and useful for you? At present we’re pondering what next! If you’ve any ideas or thoughts, please do let us know. Alternatively, if there are areas or things you’re struggling with, please do drop us a line, we’d love to support you in any ways we can.
If you’ve missed any of the previous wePRAY’s you can also see these online at www.easttowest.org.uk/blog
7 Universal Competencies for Success: 6 – Communicate Clearly:
Parenting is a complicated puzzle! Some theologians would argue it’s even harder to understand than the book of Revelation!! I was in Kingston (Surrey, not Jamaica) over ½ term and heard a parent in exasperation say to their whining child, ‘do what I mean, not what I say!’ On one hand it made me chuckle at the simple absurdity of the statement, on the other, I thought ‘been there, said that!’.
This moment reminded me of something I was told at university about product branding. They explained that throughout history lots of companies launching products into new markets had fallen foul of the local language, especially when the translation offered a different meaning that the ones they were hoping to share. Five of the more printable ones are below:
Clairol launched a curling iron called "Mist Stick" in Germany even though "mist" is German slang for manure.
Coca-Cola’s brand name, when first marketed in China, was sometimes translated as "Bite the Wax Tadpole."
KFC made Chinese consumers a bit apprehensive when "finger licking good" was translated as "eat your fingers off."
Parker Pen, when expanding into Mexico, mistranslated "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you" into "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant."
The American Dairy Association replicated its "Got Milk?" campaign in Spanish-speaking countries where it was translated into "Are You Lactating?"
We can (hopefully) see that there is a real importance to thinking about what it is we want to share and how we go about it. From a work perspective it’s very easy for us to fall into common traps around language and how we communicate.
I recently did a piece of work around communication for east to west’s trustees. I walked them through the journey we’d taken as a charity around the language we use and how we are seeking to communicate with our supporters and partners. Those of you who’ve received wePRAY over the past few years will have seen a transformation in both the look and style of what you receive. Online, our website has changed and been updated. The twice-yearly newsletter has changed to termly and the production/delivery of this has been brought in-house (saving around £2,000 a year). We have also updated the way we verbalise what we do with partners and supporters, tailoring our language, so that it is relevant to its audience.
east to west’s process began by investigating and challenging three simple questions/assumptions.
Does language matter?
If we speak, people will listen and understand?
People want to hear what we have to say?
We discovered the answers were, Yes, No and No! The language we use matters massively. It must be accessible, understandable and engaging. If it’s not, it doesn’t matter what you’re trying to say, people won’t or can’t engage as you hope they will.
The second answer was No! It challenged the assumption that how we speak is easily understood. How easy is it to slip into jargon or acronym? How many of you would understand Bleeding Edge; Horbgorble; TTFN or GIF*? You may know one or two, but if you’re communication is full of this in-house(!) language, those who are not ‘in the know’, are very much left feeling on the outside of what is happening.
The third question led to a very humbling response. Assuming people want to hear what you have to say is just that… an assumption! When we realised that not everyone wants to know more about ‘bringing hope to young lives’, we began to think about how we position ourselves in the noisiness of modern society. How do we make our voice clear and one which people want to engage with? In essence, in all its busyness, how do we make east to west stand out and present itself as something people want to discover more about? The key is simple. It’s communication! Clear, carefully thought through, engaging, informative communication!!
When we understand what it is that we’re trying to communicate, think about the audiences we’re sharing with and then do so in a coherent, accessible way, we can change the way we’re viewed, understood and even perceived by others… and then we can begin to achieve new and exciting things.
And if you wondered what Bleeding Edge, Horgorble, TTFN and GIF mean, scroll to the bottom!!
This month we’re praying for Alisa. Alisa works as a Family Link Worker across three first schools in Windsor; Trinity St. Stephen’s, Homer and Clewer Green. Please pray for her as she manages this workload as well as for her prayer requests below.
Personal Prayer requests:
Pray with thanks for the new opportunities that east to west is getting through our partnership with CAMHS. Thank God for the opportunities I have to continue to improve my skills and practice and serve children through my role.
Please pray for my family to be guided in making the right decisions for them and for me as an ever patient (or not sometimes) wife and mother to have the strength to let go and trust them to keep themselves safe. I ask for guidance in this, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do! Letting go of one adult child and two teenagers, all girls, is a huge obstacle for me to overcome. Please pray that I trust in God and relinquish that control.
Work Prayer requests:
Please pray for the Headteacher’s and teachers in all three of my schools and the children I work with and their families.
Pray for me as I start to work with a child through CAMHS, part of a new project for east to west. I’m sure others within our team would appreciate your prayers as they meet other children and young people in this capacity.
Finally please pray for me to grow in my role and to have God’s guidance in being the best Relational Support Worker and colleague that I can be. I will be working in a different way with my CAMHS referral child and really want to get it right.
*Bleeding Edge: Something that is so cutting edge (new) it’s even more than cutting edge!
Horbgorble: Wander Aimlessly
TTFN: Ta Ta For Now
GIF: Graphic Interchange Format