Knowing a few languages, I love the opportunity to switch to another language to ease my communication with others. What I’ll find frustrating, is when others continue to speak a language I don’t understand even if they could switch to one I know.
Which leads into the question of adapting to others. A solution I frequently hear mentioned when talking about communication. Quite a few models make the idea to adapt to others their main suggestion to enhance communication.
When bringing up this suggestion in training and conversations the reaction I see most frequently is frustration and fear.
There are many reasons for it. Adapting can be perceived as giving up a part of one’s own identity. Another fear can be to give without being able to receive. Adapting can also be perceived as giving in and losing status. And there certainly are more reasons than these.
In essence, the question I see that person have is, if they still can achieve what they set out to do if they adapt.
The answer isn’t as straightforward.
Adapting to someone else just to adapt, makes no sense to me. It would mean to give in into the named fears. It would, for example, lead a person to adapt to what the other person wants without consideration of one’s own point of view.
Adapting to someone else, because we want to adapt is slightly different.
That is also where adapting to someone else, knowing that that person is different comes in. Accepting the difference between those involved invites into a reflection as to what this difference means in the relationship. It means, for example, to acknowledge that the other person has other needs and ways to communicate than myself.
Accepting this allows choosing to do things in a different manner than usual as a means to make it easier for others to understand us.