Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

Keys to Making Winning Connections

Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

Keys to Making Winning Connections

Article excerpt

What makes people tick? Your co-workers? Your clients? Your next-door neighbor? Your boss? Well, whether you are the senior financial member of the management team or in a management accounting practice, the key to relationship building and to doing business successfully is to "make winning connections."

Antoine de St.-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, said: "Words are the source of all misunderstandings." Equally, they can be the source of all understandings based on the mindset and perceptions each individual brings to the communications table.

Mindsets and perceptions are influenced by a number of factors, including: life experience, knowledge, language, culture, education, occupation, position in the organization, level of accountability, and relationships with others.

For example, let's look at language for a moment. The language a person speaks transmits the attitudes and beliefs of that person's specific cultural group. So much so, that language and culture are intertwined and inseparable.

During my year's stay in Japan, I found when I asked Japanese students to answer a question, and the students wanted to make sure they were the ones I was addressing, they strategically placed a finger on their nose, nodded their head and looked to me for confirmation. A Canadian student would have asked, "Do you mean me?"

Japanese avoid using "I" or "me" as they operate with a "we" collective: it is one of their central cultural themes. With this knowledge, I was able to enhance my communications capability and eventually share mindsets with my students. Rather than firing a random shotgun, my cultural knowledge allowed me to wisely load and aim my communications rifle.

Equally important, people from different language and culture groups use different logic patterns. Therefore, whether you are sending or receiving the message, you have to be prepared to adapt your communication style.

In Japan, I spent a lot of time waiting for answers. Why? The Japanese rhetoric pattern is both circular and holistic: a Japanese speaker will begin at the end and carefully work back to the beginning when answering a question. In doing so, he or she gives the listener a full picture of the situation, but it does take time.

In the logic patterns of romance languages, all important elements are stressed but not in the same order as in English. The logic pattern of an English speaker is linear and moves from point A to point B. A francophone may start with point A then go to points D and C, and end with point B. …

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