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Do not scream, run around or touch anything! Lost in translation.

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I’m awfully impolite. I listen in on other peoples conversations and then publish them. But I can’t help it.

In the supermarket parking lot, a father is pushing a shopping cart and behind him there is a seven-year-old girl running. Just before entering the shop, the dad instructs the little “princess” on how to behave inside, or rather how not to behave. “Do not scream, run around or touch anything! “ It caught my attention and I thought for a moment, what the little girl can actually do inside. It took me a while before I interpreted it and I realized, that she can walk slowly next to the cart and stay silent. I wasn’t sure whether she understood it the same way. It requires relatively mature abstract thinking and it takes a while.

But if she did interpret it, she would probably say: “Well then I’m not very useful during the shopping trip.”

If her father had told her: “We walk slowly in the store and talk quietly.” She would immediately and clearly know what to do. Additionally, she could pick up the things, which were written down on the shopping list from mum and put them in the basket. Then she could say: “I’m here and I’m helping. I’m useful and happy, because I’m doing something practical.” And daddy could be calm…


The authors of the book Respect and be respected point this out as one of the principles of good communication: “communicate what to do, what is correct, what is expected.” For example “We need to walk slowly here. You can throw sand into the bucket or into that corner.” Avoiding prohibitions like “Do not move here. Do not throw sand!”

Author: Lenka Míkovcová Translation: Marek Hubbell

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