I was in the Middle East having a conversation with my main contact at one of my client organizations. My contact was Arab and dressed traditionally with a head covering, robe and spoke with an Arabic accent. We were talking about the organization, priorities and his role among many things, and in the middle of that conversation he abruptly shifted the topic by saying, “I love Jeff Foxworthy.”
Now, I chuckled at first and then I said, “You know Jeff Foxworthy?”
He replied, “Yes, very funny man.”
I then said, “Jeff Foxworthy, the comic?”
And he said, “Yes, you are a redneck if...”
I was confused and surprised. I had a hard time believing that he really got the humor, so I asked him, “Do you even understand what he is saying?” and he responded, “What, do you think I’m ignorant?”
I said, “No, no, not at all. It’s just that Jeff Foxworthy is a very American comic and he is a regional American comic that uses a lot of local phrases and colloquialisms in his routine. I mean, does it even translate?”
“For instance, redneck, that’s a very American term. Do you even have rednecks here?” And he said, “Brad, Brad, Brad, come on, we have the Bedouins, they live in a tent in the desert with a camel out front. They are the original rednecks.”
Then we both started laughing.
The truth is that connection between he and I helped foster a stronger relationship. Two people from vastly different environments found a commonality – in what else? Jeff Foxworthy. But, it goes to show you how small the world is, how much we know about one another, or at least sometimes should.
As different as we may seem or be to each other, you can find common ground. We just need to take the time to find it.