How does a story teller tell his stories without his tool of words? That’s been an interesting challenge for me here in France.
After years of standing in front of people telling stories about the vision of a certain company to potential investors or just trying to motivate employees, taking away my words is like taking the paintbrush away from an artist. What I have learned though is that I can be a different kind of a story teller.
For one thing, I’ve had to become a better listener, not just in comprehending French words, but actually “listening” better by watching more carefully my surroundings and talking less. It is possible to learn to communicate in ways beyond just articulation of words. Body language within appropriate context becomes even more important. It’s the confidence beyond words. It’s uncontrived humility. It’s the smiles at the appropriate moments. It’s the genuine concern in your eyes.
While I’ve been thinking that I’m communicating ineffectively, I’ve reconsidered and now believe that in fact I’m probably telling a pretty clear story to those around me. I’m glad to have this chance to be more aware of my communication tendencies beyond just words. By the end of this experience, I hope to become an improved story teller – and not just because my French may have improved.