Monday, October 8, 2012

Tim, you’re a bit slow…

Tim, you’re a bit slow…

In the office, I received some light-hearted feedback that I talk a bit slow.  After wrapping up a meeting early, I claimed credit by saying, “I talked fast.”  The response was that it was probably the other person that talked fast.  I felt a little defensive.  It’s not that I’m dim-witted.  I’m just thoughtful and contemplative when I express myself, or something along those lines.

Today I sat in on a meeting in which I was the only foreigner.  I didn’t play much of a role in the meeting, but they spoke English for my benefit.  Listening to the cadence of the exchange among the Chinese was enlightening.  The speed was on fast-forward, only the pitch was not Alvin-and-the-Chipmunks  high.  It was like a two-minute conference that had to cover 30 minutes of information.  But the countenance and expression was not hurried at all; somehow it was conversational.  Rapid fire conversational.  It was then that I had to concede that the Chinese are just fast talkers.  The Cantonese is fast, but that’s hard to appreciate because I don’t understand anyway.

I’ve thought about the reason I haven’t noticed my speaking disability before.  I think when people speak to me one on one, they are actually slowing down so I can comprehend.  (My note taking capabilities are even slower than my speaking abilities and sometimes they will pause until I quit writing.  They are gracious enough to not get some tea while they wait.)  There are a few other foreigners in the office, but to my knowledge they are all British.  While the British are also slow in speech, I have to admit that they are probably a little faster than me – I’m sure for the Chinese, it’s still like listening to Eeyore talk.  What I wouldn’t give for an expat from Mississippi in the office for a favorable comparison.

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