Communication: The Triangle of Truth

How do you know if you’re communicating effectively?


Speaking the same language as another person doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to communicate effectively with him/her. In this video, Ricardo Gonzalez, founder and CEO of Bilingual America, a nationally respected cultural and language training institute, explains what he calls “The Triangle of Truth,” a foundation he believes everyone needs to build upon in order to become effective communicators.

The triangle has three points: Communication, cultural management, and language. Communication sits at the top of the triangle because it is dependent on the two base points of the triangle—cultural management and language. Ricardo explains, “Every human and business relationship depends on communication.” When you grow your language and cultural communication skills simultaneously, you’ll move up the triangle and closer to the pinnacle of effective communication.

“To the degree that cultural management skills and language skills rise in parallel is the degree to which we are, in fact, communicating.” –Ricardo Gonzalez

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Every human and business relationship depends on communication. There is no relationship without communication. So then we move and we say, "Okay, what is communication? How do we know we are, in fact, communicating?"

And so I use what I call the Triangle of Truth. And at the top, at the top point I put the word "communication." The point is communication. In Spanish, the word "communication" is "comunicación," and the root of that word is "comun." "Comun" means common.

One of the places where we're making some real distinct mistakes in our communication is we're talking about our differences way too much. We should be talking about the things that we have in common, and this is where you get into empowerment and, you know, how do we create the common good?

So the point is communication. And on the two base points of the triangle, those make up the communication, and to the degree that those two base points rise in parallel is the degree to which we're communicating. So what are they, right?

So the first one is language skill. Now, is language enough? Of course not. So if you have a significant other, you know, who speaks the same language, there are times when they speak and you go, "My goodness. What? What are you saying?"

Language isn't enough, and so we see it all the time where people go, "Well, I'm working with Latinos. I want to learn Spanish," and I'm like, "That's part of it. That's part of it. That's not all of it."

The second base point is cultural management skill. That is: how nuanced and skilled am I as a leader? To really manage culture and the culture of the people I'm leading, how do I get them to best respond to my leadership?

So there are cultures that are very high context, there are cultures that are low context, and these cultures, people respond in different ways to different types of leadership. So as a leader, the more culturally adept I am -- and this is a skill -- but to the degree that cultural management skill and language skill rise in parallel is, in fact, the degree to which we are, in fact, communicating.

Ricardo González

Ricardo González is the founder and CEO of Bilingual America, a nationally respected cultural and language training institute established in 1992. He is the developer of several corporate training courses including Success with Hispan...

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