God Mode is what happens when you discover the ultimate hack, the cheat code that unlocks invulnerability, that special item that makes everyone else look like they are standing still while you’re flying circles around the earth. Think of J.R.R. Tolkiens’ One Ring, only better!
Flaquita popped into my office with an uncharacteristic level of glee in her grin. She looked like the Cheshire Cat, with a secret when she asked, “What program did you learn with? To talk?”
I looked at her and waited, she often neglects to fill me in on the important parts of her thinking process that help her arrive at whatever stream of consciousness thought she’d decided to share with me at the time. My silence spoke volumes.
“I mean to learn all those languages, when you travel to other countries. I’m going to Spain!”
Now I understood. She made the same assumption most of my friends and readers do, that I become fluent in the language of the country I am living in at the time.
Not by a long shot.
This is how I explained the way I Unlock Any Culture With 5 Words!
Without exception, this is the single most important of all five words. No matter where you go, learn this word first, in the formal mode. Learn it in the formal mode because it’s much harder to offend someone if you mistakenly speak with too much respect than not enough.
Even when you put this word in the wrong part of a sentence, it clearly demonstrates that you are trying to be courteous with your request. “Please”, when used correctly, unlocks a willingness for people in the countries I visit to go that extra mile to help me get where I need to go, or give me what I want. Practice this word a lot! In quite a few languages outside of English, you will need to learn how to address people differently according to gender and age. Learn the most formal first. No one gets angry if you address him or her respectfully, only if you don’t speak respectfully enough. Locals will correct you with a smile if you use the wrong level of respect.
This word is nearly a tie with Please, for all the same reasons. It is a clear demonstration of your appreciating anything someone has done for you. Use it more than once in any situation where you are given any help at all, from anyone in your new country.
You will screw up, a lot. More than you think. It can’t be avoided. Don’t gloss over it or pretend that you didn’t. That only makes the situation awkward and embarrassing for both of you. Not apologizing can also make you seem arrogant and rude. Being arrogant and rude are two awful stereotypes that we Americans have to work very, very hard to dispel. Depending on what you have done, make it a point to see what you can do to atone for your mistake, in word and in deed.
This is the home stretch. The first three are the bunny slopes, the putt-putt courses, and the 101 level university classes. The final two phrases are the Triple Black Diamond ski slopes, the Augusta National Golf Club, the Ph.D. level dissertations that will make or break you and could undo all of the hard work you’ve already put in. Be ready.
The Food From Your Country Is Excellent!
From the moment you step out into the main street of almost every major city of the world, you’ll be bombarded with exotic scents long before you see where they’re coming from. From the deep, sweet, earthy smell of Yaki-Imo, Japanese fresh sweet potatoes being cooked in the back of a farmers truck in Japan to the full frontal death-scented assault on your senses from what is often referred to as the King Of Fruits, Durian. World travel is a buffet that lets us sample the food, and history of every nation we travel in. Find something you like and let them know that you are glad they came up with the recipe. Everyone, including Americans, enjoy knowing that people enjoy our food and unique flavors. When we can tell people in the countries we visit a few things that their culture gave us that we enjoy eating with friends it goes a long way towards building bridges and stroking egos. Everyone genuinely believes that his or her countries combination of meat/rice/bread is the single most creative in the history of the world.
Before I deliver the finisher, I need to show you a video of the Yaki-Imo truck, turn up the volume and listen carefully. Remember, Yaki-Imo is fresh roasted sweet potato. By fresh, I mean that there is a stone-pit fire in the back of a truck that’s playing the song you hear in this video. I’ll check back with you in a few seconds when you’re done.
Now imagine walking through your neighborhood on the way home, it’s dark but you’re not afraid because Japan is one of the safest nations on the planet. Then you hear that song! I though that I had fallen through a tear in reality into some alternate (Anime?) universe where I was being stalked by a vengeful spirit in a truck who was broadcasting a slow, mournful song about how he was going to roast people on the stone-pit fire in the back of his truck. Once worse, grown men and women were running to this truck with money in their hands the same way American kids run towards the ice cream man on a hot summer day!
I watch too much Japanese horror.
Fortunately, I was with a friend who saw the maddening fear glaze over in my eyes and shook me back to reality. I think he was going to slap me, but I regained my senses before we had that awkward moment. To this day, I nearly drop a potato of my own every time I hear that creepy song!
Now for the closer, the phrase that pays, remember “Fortune Favors The Bold!”
The Women From Your Country Are Beautiful!
That’s it, the most powerful tool in the box. Whenever I go to a new country my Team makes sure I learn that complex phrase in at least three different versions: One for little kids in the way that a girl with a balloon in her hand is cute, one for a beautiful full grown woman, and one for a respected grandmother. Being able to say “The Women From Your Country Are Beautiful!” in a respectful tone that won’t get me slapped is difficult at best, I practice until I get it right.
This phrase pays dividends because most men, and all women believe that their nation/country/tribe/crew/clique are the most beautiful the world has ever seen. Interestingly enough, I usually pay that compliment with the “little girl” connotation, it makes all women smile. When they correct me and teach me the right way to say it, it gives them a great way to start a conversation and make a new friend.
80% of the time, this works 100% of the time,