November 30, 2009 · Posted in Communications ·

In the first part of my Communications Series I looked at how we can communicate better by following German virtues and values. This time I want to take a closer look at the values Americans live by and see how those can possibly help improve our communication skills. I take L. Robert Kohls ‘ monograph “ The Values Americans Live By ,” written in the 1980s, as a guideline for what exactly American values are. Kohls, a former director of training for the U.S. Information Agency and the Meridian International Center in Washington, wrote this monograph to help foreign visitors to the United States avoid potential cultural pitfalls. Being a German living in Los Angeles, I am influenced by both cultures - and my communication practices have been influenced by principles that are common on either side of the Atlantic. The good thing about living in 2 cultures is that you sometimes can pick the best of both worlds and implement them in your daily life. It’s like eating pancakes for breakfast and schnitzel at lunch!

So, how can we make use of American values and virtues in our communication?

The following list of tips will show you how you can improve your communication and change your habits with a few easy tricks.

Communicate Better with a “Can Do” Attitude

Americans are known for their optimism and their belief that anything is possible - if you just put your mind to it. So why not instill some American confidence into your next conversation and communicate with a “Yes, I can” mind-set. Hey, Barack Obama won the presidency with this approach, so why shouldn’t you be more effective in your communication using the same method? Once your attitude changes towards a positive position your audience will experience a confident speaker and a genuine communicator.

Communicate Better with Equality

In America, equality is considered an important civic and social goal. Why not using the concept of equality in our communication? Communicate by applying the same manner and choice of words to any group of people or individuals. By paying respect to your listeners you will earn their respect in return.

Communicate Better with Productivity

Have you met an American who’s not busy with something? Americans are highly productive and use their time wisely to manage their different tasks, jobs, and activities. We can improve our communication skills by keeping in mind the concept of productivity. Are you maybe preparing a speech? Plan your speech not only according to your audience but according to time. Keep it short, keep it simple and fill it with helpful advice and information. Or are you writing for the Web like me? In that case, productivity can mean resourcefulness and links.

Communicate Better with Uniqueness

Americans love their individual freedom. People strive after uniqueness and individuality. In the US, it’s not only ok to have something exclusive and unique to offer - it is desirable. So, why not be unique as a communicator. I’m not saying not to follow any rules. I’m saying to follow the rules in your own distinctive way. Do you have an accent? Embrace it, instead of trying to get rid of it. Do you have a particular sense of humor? Don’t hide it. A little wit works wonders, even in business communication. All I’m saying is: Let your personality shine through the next time you’re communicating. It’s the most valuable quality you have to offer.

Communicate Better with Competition

In Germany, we have the saying “competition is good for business”. Americans take it a step further in believing that competition brings out the best in individuals and businesses. Competition can also make us better communicators. How’s that? Competition can spur us on in writing a better novel or creating a more effective marketing email than our competitor. A friendly rivalry can boost our ego and motivate us to become a better communicator - whether we’re talking, writing or communicating in pictures or sound.

Now, go out and be a better communicator - and let me know how it goes! Can you think of any other American values that would help us become better communicators? I’m looking forward to reading about them. Leave a comment or drop me an email! Until then, tschüs and bye-bye!


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