Chicken Dancing in Paris

Candy store in ParisMy husband and I recently returned from a wonderful trip to France! Neither of us is fluent in French, but as you can see from these photos, you hardly need to understand the language to comprehend the beautifully designed storefronts and displays. They show you all you need to know about what’s going on inside! However, there were times when reading and understanding French stumped us, which brings me to chicken dancing in Paris…

We were attempting, with limited success, to translate the menu at a restaurant. My husband thought he recognized a chicken dish but wanted to know what kind of chicken… chicken breast or leg…boneless? Our waiter understood English about as well as we comprehend French, so attempts at verbal communication didn’t go far.

Seafood store in ParisMy husband then rubbed his hand on his chest and looked expectantly at the waiter. Our waiter looked at him for a second and then, with a smile, shook his head, hooked his thumb in his armpit and began flapping his arm up and down. A wing…chicken wings were in the dish! Then he turned his hip toward our table and slapped his leg…ah, chicken legs, too! My husband started laughing, and began flapping his own “wing” along with the waiter. Soon they were both flapping and laughing. (Our nephew, hearing this, asked in typical adolescent horror if everyone in the restaurant was staring at us.)

Paris storefrontMy point in telling this story? Our waiter didn’t try just one way…his way…to communicate with us. Instead, he took cues from his customer and not only responded in kind to help us understand his product, he made a personal connection with us in the process.

You, too, can successfully communicate with your customers even if they don’t understand your “language.” Step outside of your business and look at it from your client’s point of view. Are you providing them with what they need to make a decision, or are you giving them business-speak about what YOU think should be important to them?

Consider your own business version of the chicken dance. Tell your story to customers using language THEY understand in terms they can relate to. Incorporate compelling visuals- graphics, video, charts- in your storytelling because pictures can transcend words. Make a real effort to connect with your customers and make them comfortable buying from you.

And if you ever visit Paris, have dinner at the delicious L’Epicerie Du Pere Claude and ask about the chicken on the menu. Then sit back and watch what happens!

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