Connecting, Sans Language, in Switzerland

The proof is in the pudding. Go to another country, one where you do not speak the language, and notice if you feel welcomed or not. Notice what is happening when you feel welcomed and what is absent.

It’s a simple act and has nothing to do with language!

 Currently we’re traveling in Switzerland. We hopped over to Germany for a bit too. We don’t speak German or French. I speak some Spanish. I know how, in German, to say,
“do you speak English?
thank you,
please,
and hello”.
That’s about it. We’re the underdogs here.

Whether we’re strolling on a trail and encounter a person walking their dog or if we’re in a coffee shop, the thing that makes us feel at ease and welcomed is the same.

The ticket to making us feel welcome, whether the person and us have any common language or not, is that they smile at us. It’s SO simple.

A smile is a universal greeting that needs no common language.

It makes us feel welcome even if we cannot communicate fluently.

It conveys that the person welcomes us.

To be on the other side of things, where we are in the minority, this makes a giant difference. Simply a smile. Your customer is, essentially, in this same position. S/he is wanting something that you have.

It’s rather fun to lock eyes with someone as we’re walking past and smile at them. Much of the time they appear a bit startled and smile back. Well, in Switzerland at least. In Germany, so far, people just look back at us. (Perhaps too much Bratwurst? Ha!) In Switzerland we’ve even elicited some waves. That eye contact and smile got us talking to Rose.

This is not Rose. I just liked the photo very much.

Rose was sitting alongside a path waiting for a car or something (we couldn’t ever figure that one out). We found out that her daughter studied in California and Australia and she got to visit both places. The woman was grandmother age and eager to practice her English. She did quite well! Rose had a firm handshake akin to a 20 year old male that hadn’t yet learned how to grip gently. It was surprisingly firm! And with no pumping. Strange to us but will create a lasting pleasant memory. I should have taken a photo with her. . .

Encounters like this are what make a connection between people, even if ever so briefly. They create kindness and a touch of goodwill to people who are not like ourselves. When in the minority, it sure is nice.

Especially if we serve customers, a smile is a necessity. You have the power to make someone feel welcomed, without even saying a word.


samantha-irwin-25Try it next time you’re walking downtown in your home town. Lock eyes with someone coming toward you and simply smile. Keep walking. See if they smile back.

FYI: I usually only smile at the opposite sex when I’m with my hubs so as not to seem like I’m flirting. Jeff appreciates that. (; 

It’s fun and you can feel the person’s mood improving!

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