I grew up in the Soviet Union, a closed country where all the cool ideas were spread secretly, being considered the “poison of capitalist America.” No one taught me critical thinking, good communication, or freedom of choice. All we had at school was about the three main rules:
- REPETITION, rule #1: “Repetition is mother of studies” (“Повторение – мать учения”),
- DISCIPLINE, rule #2: “Discipline is mother of victory” (“Дисциплина-мать победы”), and
- OBEDIENCE, rule #3: “Teacher is always right” ( “Учитель всегда прав”).
Obviously, the aim of communication was a minimum one: to show you are not a mute, to answer at school if asked, and to express your basic needs and emotions.
After 1993, I led quite an interesting and dynamic life. Therefore, I am a self-made and a self-taught person. Communication is among the toughest lessons of my life, so I am still learning and I will never stop. In my life I had different situations, jobs, hobbies, conflicts, and journeys which helped me to understand the value of communication. I also met a lot of people who showed me examples of bad and good communication, who motivated and disappointed me, helped and rejected me, learned from me and blamed me, loved and hated me. All of them are my “teachers.” Despite the fact that I am learning something every day, I had some important stages in understanding communication, which I want to share:
- Bachelors degree in Romania. At the age of 17, my parents told me to believe in myself and sent me to study abroad. After studying at a Russian-language school I had to work hard to learn Romanian – the key to my diploma in law.
Learning #1: “Language is vital for a good communication. It looks like an obvious conclusion, but we never really think about it until we get in a situation when we don’t understand people around us.”
- Entering the Bar and starting practicing law in Romania. At 22, after a lot of hard work, my dream came true, I became a barrister. To be a lawyer was not enough for me, I wanted to be a great one! So, I practiced public speaking to be persuasive in court.
Learning #2: “Good communication skills give you an advantage at your job.”
- Teaching law at the university. As a young and promising lawyer with good communication skills, I was offered to compete for the position of instructor in one of the local universities. I got the job and spent six years teaching others.
Learning #3: “Patience is crucial for the teaching process, people are different – and this is a fact.”
- My “business era”. In 2010 I decided to switch to the business world and started working for a transnational corporation.
Learning #4 : “The world of corporate communication is like a different planet you happened to land on. If you don’t learn the rules, tricks, requirements, and even the abbreviations you will not survive.”
- Living in different countries/travelling/being married to a foreigner. I have lived and worked in Romania, Ukraine, and USA, now I am in Kyrgyzstan. I travelled to more than 20 other countries. I am married to a man from Texas.
Learning #5: “Cross-cultural difference can drive us crazy, to deal with it successfully we need to be fully aware of what it means in each case.”
- Family relationship. I have a small family: my husband, my daughter, my mom and my brother. I love them and I want to see them happy, same they feel for me. Good communication is the fundament of family happiness; bad communication can easily destroy not only the happiness, but the family.
Learning #6: “To pay more attention to the communication with your dear people, we can change the company we work for, the country we live in, the neighbors and even friends, but we don’t choose our family. It’s something we have to deal with, and we better make them happy.”
- Life. Interpersonal relations are heavily influenced by stereotypes, habits, perceptions, and emotions. This influence can be good or bad, but it definitely can’t be avoided.
Learning #7: “We don’ need to avoid it, we just have to be fully aware of this phenomenon and build our communication accordingly in a constructive and efficient way. We have to stay focused on the message we want to deliver.”
Learning #8: “People don’t have superpowers; they cannot read my mind, so I must communicate clearly. Me and my husband have a rule: “no passive-aggressive behavior, we speak.”
Communication works! It makes us human, but good communication makes us better people who can build a better world.