How to Communicate in a Foreign Country

This is not an easy task if you do not speak the local language. However, if you stay polite and smile, you will always find the solution in any awkward situation.

I remember accepting Chinese guests in our Swiss hotel, who came to us as a part of a larger group. Quite often only few spoke English in the group. I enjoyed observing how others were coping with communication.

These guests were always confident in believing I truly understand Chinese (I did not even know how to say hello in Chinese). I tried to make gestures to explain that I would love to help but I do not understand what they mean. Then we used all the means gestures, drawings, body language, facial mimics and finally arrived to the little thing that they asked for.

Anyway, here are some tips for you to follow.

1. Try your native language. If you are lucky, there is somebody speaking your language. If your native language is English, the chance is even higher.

2. Don’t be embarrassed and relax. Your native language is your origin, which you should be proud of. Don’t make uneducated idiots intimidate you. Don’t let your language skills keep you from the places you want to visit. Your are a foreigner and it is not a disease.

3. Learn key phrases. The range of your communication with locals could be limited: in a café, in the hotel, in the airport, at the parking, in the shop. So you will gain a lot if you could handle such easy situations.

4. Be creative. Use all possible means to communicate. It can be body language, a drawing, mimics or something else. People tend to have a phenomenal fantasy in stressful unknown situations, which need a desperate resolution.

And always SMILE and stay POLITE!