5 Tips to Overcome Language Barriers
With the combination of growing multiculturalism and increased overseas outsourcing, there is a greater demand on communication skills than ever before. Not only do you need to be able to explain yourself and understand others, but you need to do this regardless of their native tongue. Here are a few tips that I’ve found to be helpful in my dealings with people who speak another language, or have a very heavy accent that I find hard to understand.
Keep it Simple
Simple vocabulary means more people can understand what is being talked about. This goes both ways – when talking to someone who is weaker in the language you speak, or when they are speaking to you.
Big words don’t make you look smart. Being quickly and clearly understood does.
Use written communication when possible
Written communication removes accents that might be difficult to understand and it gives the author and reader the ability to re-read the text to gain a better understanding of what is trying to be communicated.
You should be attentive and patient when communicating with anyone, but when there is a substantial language barrier, it is even more important. Look them in the eyes and pay close attention to the words that they say. Try to piece what you can together, and repeat what you think they’ve said back to them so they can approve or try again.
Many people are not even willing to try and communicate, as they do not see it is worth the effort, or they believe that someone else will do it for them. The harder you try at something the more likely it is that you will succeed. Show that you are making an effort to understand, and chances are the person you are trying to communicate with will put more effort in to communicating with you.
Find language courses that are offered in your area, and send your staff that could benefit from the teaching. A bit of professional help could go a long way. Just don’t forget to reinforce the importance of simplicity.