The Tower of Babel

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One of the most frustrating situations that I come across daily on Twitter is customers who are upset with support agents who are unable to speak perfect English. If you’ve ever been this person, I invite you to take a step back & consider that there are roughly 6,500 languages spoken around the world. If this person who is trying to help you struggles a little bit with English, it’s most likely because they know at least one other language fluently that is not English. If their ultimate goal is to help you solve a problem in a language that is not their native tongue, I ask you to please consistently show compassion & understanding with those who are trying to help you.

Whenever this happens on Twitter, I immediately recall the first job that I ever had as the hostess of a hotel restaurant near the SFO airport. At 5 am every morning, I had to deal with flight attendants & pilots who needed a drip coffee or an espresso drink when they were already in a hurry trying to catch a flight. One morning, a pilot looked directly into my eyes & asked me “Do you even speak English? Because there’s clearly something being lost in translation.” I was completely taken aback & insulted, but luckily, my manager was there at the time, witnessed the entire interaction & handled the situation, defending me & asking the pilot to leave.

On the flip side, when you’re traveling in another country, do you get frustrated when you need help, but everyone around you wants you to speak their native language? That’s a difficult experience when you’re feeling misunderstood as well right?

When I was in Spain in March 2019, I will admit that my Spanish was & still is nowhere near perfect. I almost missed my train to Barcelona from Madrid when I was trying to find the right counter to have my tickets printed & locate the correct train platform. Even though I do my best to always have a traveling knowledge of the native language of the country that I’m traveling in, I must say that Google translate has been my savior on several occasions.

While I haven’t directly read any excerpts from the Bible since I was forced to at my Catholic grade school, & I don’t own a Bible, this reoccurring situation makes me think of the Tower of Babel. In Genesis 11: 1–9, the Babylonians were attempting to build a tower that would reach the heavens. God decided to disrupt their construction & progress by confusing the languages of the workers so that they could no longer understand one another. As a result, the tower was never finished, & the people dispersed themselves around the world, only interacting with those whom they could understand, agreed with, & spoke the same language.

From this story, I’ve come to realize that it’s in our refusal to want to meet in the middle & find ways to better communicate with one another that prevents us from finding harmony & accomplishing our end goals. When you decide to force someone else to confirm to how you want them to communicate with you, nothing gets accomplished in the end. All parties are instead left frustrated & upset by their own expectations & walk away from the situation surrounded by the individuals who act, communicate, & agree with the same beliefs.

It’s safe to say that humanity is more divided than ever. While standing up for your beliefs is good, I believe that cooperating with the opposing side to find understanding for the greater good of all mankind is more important. Be kind, be compassionate, & be understanding to anyone you may not agree with. It’s through trying to communicate clearly with the intent of reaching the best solution for all parties involved that allows us to find the optimum outcome.

XO Denise

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