Onward and Upward|“I’ve always talked about the importance of storytelling”

我經常推薦已經在外國讀書的香港學生看名為“EO” (Entrepreneurship Opportunities) 的 YouTube channel。該頻道經常採訪一些在tech sector成功創業的擁有亞洲面孔人士,他們不單有視野有智謀有技術,他們的English communication skills也非常棒。我希望學生通過他們體會到,在外國,好的 communication skills 對career 有錦上添花的作用。

我這裏指的 communication skills,超越了不少香港人對 communication skills 的理解(英文沒口音,說話流暢等)。在西方職場,communication skills 更包括 express complicated things in a simple way。例如,EO 的受訪者會用各種比喻來解釋他們的行業和業務: Carnegie Mellon professor Po-Shen Loh 把他的網上教學平台比喻為 classes that look “as good as a Twitch gaming stream”; Siqi Chen, the CEO and founder of Runway, 把 software的功能比喻為 “building a robot that digs a hole for you” and “creating a lot of new value that will generate value even if you’re not there”;  Yuhki Yamashita, Chief Product Officer at Figma, 把跟客戶的溝通比喻為 storytelling, “I’ve always talked about the importance of storytelling,” for when you’re talking to customers, “you’re also communicating through stories. You’re not saying hey I’m just launching feature A, B, C. You’re  saying hey, imagine this world now that you can do all these different things and how your life is so much easier.”

Yamashita 也啟發了我,通過比喻和storytelling解釋我教學方式的特點:

Who but the hygiene-obsessed Japanese could have invented a gadget like this: before you show up for a social occasion, blow into the device’s vent, and you’ll immediately get a reading on whether your breath stinks.

As a writer of Chinese ethnicity who works in English, a language that’s strictly speaking not her native tongue, I often think of this bad breath tester after I’ve just finished a piece of writing. At this point, if I do take a moment to think back on the many awkward words and phrases I’ve had to weed out, I’m sure there are still some I’ve overlooked, and I’m left wishing for a tool that can sniff them out for me (and no, writing aids like ChatGPT and Grammarly can’t come to my rescue because they handle technical issues like grammar rather than the finer points of style).

My often crippling self-consciousness about my English becomes an asset when I am helping my Chinese students navigate the challenge of crafting native or near-native English copies. As they watch me agonize over whether I should replace this or that word, whether I should reverse the structure of a sentence to underscore a point, or whether I should reorganize the order of paragraphs to smoothen the flow of logic, my students will, over time, get used to seeing self doubts as normal. The day will then come when they can follow my example and do the equivalent of speaking to people without a prior bad breath test: just complete the piece, submit it, and vow to do better next time.

Michelle Ng

聯絡方式: michelleng.coach@proton.me
個人網站: https://michellengwritings.com




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