Guest Post by Louise Crandall
This story, which took place quite a few years ago on a deserted beach in the Caribbean, certainly exemplifies the concept: Communications – better late than never.
I used to like going to places that hadn’t yet been overrun with tourists. While the area now has dozens of hotels and mini-malls, at that point there was only one hotel on a 20-kilometer stretch of gorgeous, deserted beach. One afternoon, I was walking down the beach when it started to rain. Noticing a run-down bar on the edge of the sand, I went up and asked if I could join the dozen or so locals who were sitting around under a thatched roof beside the hut, drinking beer and waiting for the rain to stop. I spent a couple of pleasant hours, practicing my mediocre Spanish on the women and kids, and making jokes with the men. Think I bought everyone a round too.
When the rain finally slacked off and I got up to leave, one of the women said that since we’d all had a good time, why didn’t I come back for lunch tomorrow. This sounded like a good idea to me since who wants to hang out with other sunburned tourists? Better to mix with locals, improving one’s capacity in a foreign language and learning local customs. So the next morning I headed out around 11am to join my new buds. As I was leaving the hotel property, the gardener asked where I was going. “To the bar down the beach”, I said. His somewhat shocked response was, “Lady, that isn’t a bar. That’s the local *#@+!house!”
In retrospect, I hadn’t paid much attention to the visible cues such as money changing hands, the hammock in the otherwise empty hut, and the wide variety of skin tones of the kids running around. In fact, I had helped one women argue for more money when a guy was handing over a few pesos – for the beer I thought. I continued my walk up the beach and this time just waved cheerily at the girls as I passed the establishment.
- Be aware of the context in which you are communicating.
- Do your research, know your audience.
- When things don’t go as you planned, be gracious.
Louise Crandall is a communications specialist and an amazing writer. While her forte is travel writing, she is a master at pulling together complex communications projects with apparent ease.