Tag Archives: English

 

In the series “Seven Principles of Intercultural Effectiveness” I would like to introduce you to seven way of being more effective in intercultural communication. We have covered principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 in previous posts. Principle 7 is called
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I speak slow and use simple language.

English is a global language. However, if we are speaking as non-native speakers to other non-native speakers there could be a lot of misunderstanding. Even if English native speakers with different accents speak to each other there are miscommunications. In order to become more effective across cultures it is important to speak slow and use simple language. There is no point in showing off your rich, academic vocabulary or your eloquence in inventing words if no one understands you. You can use your eloquence in communication addressed to native speakers but even then you want to be understood. Check in with your counterparts and make sure that your language is appropriate.

My favorite bloggers write as if they are talking to me. I feel I know them. Great writing is a skill bloggers have shaped for years before anyone reads their posts. In our communication in companies we often write less perfect.

We have not learnt in university how to write an email that another person will understand. In my school, there was no course on business communication but we learnt a lot of crap about marketing.

We do not write English at a level where engage a native speaker. Most native speakers will find errors in our emails and probably find your style rude (German) or long-winded (French).

We perform anyway. We pride ourselves with the average number of emails we digest every day. Despite more communication there is less understanding.

Do we see a major change or has the shift happened and we feel the consequences? What is the change in the global society that influences us, creates ambiguity and sleepless nights?

The funny haired propaganda talkers of this world fuel the illusion (or delusion?), that if we all sat together with the people who look like us, talk like us and think like us, everything that is “wrong” with the world (economic challenges, unemployment, hate, scarcity of resources, war) would go away.

(#Bazinga)

You and I know that that we can only change the world if we model the behavior we wish to see in others. Only action creates change. (Thank you Mr. Gandhi)

Ask yourself: Can you reduce your emails and act instead?

Consider yourself privileged

Clare Joy and I held a workshop on Saturday for the CapacityZurich Refugee and Migrant Business Mentoring Program called “Building relationships and Enhancing Business Communications”. We held the workshop in English and German and most of our participants were native speakers of a third mother tongue. It required rethinking for me. We worked with a volunteer translator Viola Zoller (who did an amazing job) and Clare and I learnt to pause. We all spoke slower than normal and I noticed that even though we did a good job it was hard to keep everyone engaged.

The workshop made me understand once again how privileged I am, that I had the chance to live in English-speaking countries and learn the language at a level where I can now work in English. It also made me aware how we often exclude people based on a lack of language proficiency, how we do not take them seriously if their grammar is flawed or their pronunciation hard to understand.

I encourage you to watch your own behavior around others who are not in the culturally dominant group. I promise that I will try even harder to listen to anybody and to speak slow and use simple language.