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How Knowing More Than One Language Makes You Much More Empathetic

How Knowing More Than One Language Makes You Much More Empathetic

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.
‒Nelson Mandela

Have you ever tried to communicate with someone you cannot understand? There are many ways that we can understand another person. But to know them the best, attempting to share a language can be a great way to truly understanding somebody, and a direct route to their heart. It can also be an incredible way to further yourself as a human being, and it can create much more empathy within us as people. We can experience an absolute shift in our emotional range, when our horizons expand through new languages. Understanding another’s culture means understanding each other as an entire race – the human kind.

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It strengthens your mind and makes you more receptive to others’ emotions and personal experiences

Studies have shown that we can train our brains. Like any muscle, your brain is trained and developed into good health when you expand your knowledge. Our minds need constant feeding to be kept healthy, and to be able to continuously grow. The best way to connect our emotional growth with our mental health is to expand our knowledge and our learning. This means more than simply exercising a muscle, it means opening up our hearts too. When we learn a language, it makes us more intelligent; we are more creative, and more receptive to others’ emotions and personal experiences. We are also more connected with our fellow human beings; this happens when we learn to understand our differences.

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A study on infants and children that learn at least one other language during their development showed cognitive benefits as opposed to children who did not. Other studies report that there may be scientific evidence for the protection against diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia in patients that have learned more than one language in their lifetime. The theory is similar to the idea of flexing a muscle; the brain is kept healthy with the knowledge of multiple languages- even into old age.

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It allows deeper kind of self-reflection

You cannot learn a language in one day, it’s just not possible. Just like how you can’t learn all there is to know about the world in a day, a month, a year or even a lifetime. But there is something in the heart, mind, or the soul one might say, that connects us more deeply when we communicate through certain languages; through a persons native tongue. It shows a kind of respect and common ground, allowing a connection that runs much deeper than the surface.
Being bilingual for example, means tapping into further parts of our brain, like a stretched and flexed muscle. We become open to furthering our creativity, which then allows us a deeper kind of self-reflection and insight into our world. We also better understand our beliefs, and our passions by having a view of this greater picture we develop. We are boosting our brain power and boosting our ideas.

It enables you to integrate with other cultures and understand people’s lifestyles

This asset is second to none. Our world opens up in so many new ways when we know another language. Obviously, we become more capable of understanding others, but we are also able to integrate with other cultures and understand people’s lifestyles. A language is like a universe, and so the more languages we know, the more universes open up to us. Studies further this theory by indicating that there is richness, depth of understanding, and knowledge, within children who are bilingual. Their minds are stretched beyond a simple one-track focus- beyond the mere understanding of their own immediate surrounds and single culture.  

One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.
‒Frank Smith

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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