During the Little League World Series, a picture made its rounds of two boys sitting side by side leaning against a bus with their faces staring at their phones.
What appeared to be another example of ‘technology stripping away our humanity,’ was actually something different.
As it turned out, one boy was from South Dakota, and the other was from the Dominican Republic. They were using Google Translate on their phones to talk to one another.
As good as this makes us feel, what struck me most was how much effort they took to connect with each other. It takes work to find ways to speak someone else’s language. Then again, that’s how you build relationships if that’s what you want.
Speaking Their Language
A few years back I auditioned for a role in a musical. I’d never sung in front of a group of people in my life. As I prepared, I leaned heavily on the experience of my then 13-year-old daughter. She had done it before. Auditions were second nature for her. It is her world.
More specifically, it is her language. I’m just learning how to speak it.
Growing up I was never really into comic books, but when my oldest son first expressed an interest in them, I bought a bunch too. I read. I shared them with him, we watched shows together and went to all the Marvel movies the day they were released.
Both of my boys started playing “Magic: the Gathering” several years ago. I had never played, but after bringing them to a few tournaments and watching on the sidelines, I bought myself a deck and learned how to play.
My boys and I have shared more than a decade of comics and Marvel movies. The same for Magic. And we still play and go to the movies the day they come out.
Translating Your Business
I’m not a big fan of labels, but it’s a language most of us speak, so I’ll use one.
Not a week goes by when I don’t read anything about the buying/work habits of Millennials or Gen Z. And most of it has to do with not understanding them or how they are killing one thing or another.
The fact is, as generations they are clearly demonstrating what they are interested in and what they are not.
Studies show that Gen Z isn’t all that interested in owning things. They make purchasing decisions based on value. Their decision to do business often aligns with the values of a company. They are also more likely to trust a review or user-generated content than an ad, even if it said the same thing.
In short, they have a language based on their experience, interests, and values. Then again, so do most customers.
So, if we want to build a relationship with the people we hope to serve in our business, we have to find ways to understand what they are saying. We also have to translate what WE do to all provide ways in which they can connect.
Let me be clear. It isn’t about being all things to all people.
It is about having the willingness to learn how to speak a different language to develop a relationship.
It really is that simple. It might take some work, but if we’re trying to connect and earn the right to serve and sell, speaking their language, matters.
Oh, by the way, my daughter and I both got the parts.