Do You Speak Their Language?

This last week I’ve been traveling through Europe with my family. We spent 2 days in London, then 5 days in Portugal and we are in Spain currently where I had a speech for an international group.


We love to travel. I’ve personally been to nearly 40 countries. I’ve found things I love about every country I’ve been to but I noticed something during this trip.


I lived in Portugal for two years as a missionary and I speak the language fluently. The truth is you can travel virtually anywhere in the world and get by with English for the most part but our experience in Portugal was different, deeper, because I spoke their language.


I speak to leaders about this concept because it’s important that we speak the language of our people. And when we speak their language there are three primary benefits.

  1. It Deepens Your Connection
  2. It Increases Your Understand
  3. It Expands Your Experience


  1. It Deepens Your Connection

When you speak the language it allows you to truly speak to people. To hear them. To know their stories. They can share ideas with you and instead of simply visiting and seeing people you can experience it with them.

  1. It Increases Your Understanding

I’ve been places where I see the people, the sites, etc… but I don’t understand all of what I’m seeing. But because I speak Portuguese my understanding of the people, the customs, the sites, the food in Portugal – all of it is deeper. The same is true for leaders. Many leaders lead people without understanding them and because of this lack of understanding they don’t actually influence & impact their people the way they could if they increased their understanding.

  1. It Expands Your Experience

When you speak the language you gain more from the experience and therefore you have the opportunity to grow yourself and contribute more.


This week was a good reminder that when we speak our people’s language – we deepen our connection, increase our understanding & expand our experience.

As leaders, learning to speak their language requires time, empathy, lots of questions and listening. I call this conversational leadership. Where we talk with our people and not at our people.


Hopefully you can stop for a minute and think about this concept. Do you speak your people’s language? And if not, what can you do learn their language & build that connection?


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