We’re living and working in an age of international connectedness. Your co-workers or clients may actually be living overseas and speak English as a second or third language, connected to you through internet chats and teleconferencing. Or, you may work daily in person with non-native English speakers who have been in the U.S. for several years or only a few months.
No matter the situation, you need to be able to effectively communicate with your team.
In my last article on communicating with non-native English speakers, I outlined how to keep language simple in the workplace. Today, we’ll talk about slowing down.
Right now I’m going to ask you to stop and remember:
• A foreign language class you took
• A time you were shopping in an international market
• Any time you overheard a foreign language conversation
Do you remember how the other language sounded? Was it incredibly fast and jumbled to you? Did you wonder how they could talk so quickly?
An international worker can feel just this way when trying to understand our language as well.
Be Aware of Your Speech.
You know how it is when you get on a roll with an idea… your speech speeds up as you get excited, and your words can hardly keep up with your brain. Or perhaps you’re pressed for time, and you rush your message or instructions. Even the everyday pace of your language can be too fast.
When speaking with an international worker or client, take the time to evaluate how quickly you’re actually talking. Even asking your co-worker, “Am I talking too quickly?” shows that you care that they understand you. However, be aware that they may answer that you are not, in order to not seem unintelligent or rude.
Slow Down, but Don’t Exaggerate.
When we slow down our speech, we tend to start over-enunciating our words or stretching them out. Try to avoid this.
Exaggerating words makes your listener feel belittled, and your speech no longer comes across the way English actually sounds. Again, just be aware of your pacing instead.
Slowing Down Saves Time.
It seems counter-intuitive, but we all know that taking our time on any project produces a better quality product and fewer headaches later on because of mistakes. Your language in the workplace is no different.
This is especially true for highly technical environments, in which the precision of instructions and language is vital. Take a few extra seconds to slow your speech and make sure your message is clear, and you’ll be glad later that you did!
If you’d like more strategies on communicating with the non-native English speakers in your workplace, or would like to offer your workers accent reduction classes or seminars, please contact Lisa Scott for a consultation… and visit AccentuateCommunication.com for more on how we can help you break down cross-cultural workplace barriers.