On the local news recently was a story about a return to teaching cursive in schools next year. The anchorwoman shared that her family went to Mexico last summer and her 12-year-old daughter had to print her signature on her passport because she had not been taught cursive, therefore she had no signature.
I had not thought about that impact.
There are a lot of things like that that we take for granted. We make assumptions that others we deal with have the same baseline of knowledge and they may or may not. It could flavor how they respond and interact with us. Just like I assumed everyone knew how to write in cursive, and didn’t realize they weren’t teaching it in schools. I also never thought about the fact that our signatures are basically cursive.
I work at a nonprofit that assists people with basic needs like food and clothing, as well as financial help with rent and utilities. Many of the people we help have grown up in poverty, and their parents and grandparents knew nothing but poverty. We have to be very careful about the assumptions we make in interacting with them because they may not understand some of things we take for granted.
For instance, some may have never had a checking or savings account, and no one in their family knew about or was able to teach them about budgets and saving. If they live paycheck to paycheck, scrambling for cash to cover bills every month, it will sound like a foreign language if we talk to them about things like budgeting or putting money aside.
Learning about differences like this have made me more mindful of what assumptions I make when I interact with people at work, church and other situations. I’m clearer in how I communicate and ask more questions to make sure I’m on the same page with people.
How much better would our relationships be if we paid more attention to ensuring that we understand each other and are speaking the same language?