Overcoming Language Barriers at Work

language barriers at work

Thanks to innovation and general advancements in technology, we can connect with nearly anyone across the globe. The world seems to have only gotten smaller. That said, language is still a notable barrier, especially in workplaces that strive for the same goals and objectives yet have team members from different countries. While the drive to succeed as a team is demonstrated in part by coworkers’ actions, success can only be achieved if everyone is communicating effectively. International teams are fast becoming the norm in industry leaders across sectors around the world. And as these international teams become interconnected, employees are more frequently moving from country to country.

As a result, many organizations devote their time and resources to overcoming the barriers posed by different languages and cultures.

To combat language barriers in the workplace, organizations have noted that the following tips can help:

Using Basic Language in the Workplace 

When conversing in the workplace, it’s best to keep your language simple and your sentence structure straightforward and direct. Not everyone is a confident English speaker, especially when it comes to more formal settings so using plain, concise language in presentations, emails, and other communication methods will help limited English proficiency (LEP) coworkers’ comprehension.

If your office has LEP team members, avoiding difficult to pronounce words in conversation can be a useful trick to avoid extra explanations and miscommunications. If no explanations are needed and miscommunication is avoided, productivity increases.

Cultural Exchange Between Workers 

While this may not be a requirement in some professional, many organizations have used a formal cultural exchange to help their employees better understand each other and also to grow personally. Because language is an important part of culture, there’s no better way of acknowledging that you respect another person’s culture than by learning a few phrases in their language. It may help you to gain some perspective about them.

Your employees will learn more about their colleagues’ way of life and may even learn better ways to communicate. For example, learning how to say simple phrases like “thank you,”  “hello,” and “please” in your colleague’s native language goes a long way.

Maintaining an Atmosphere of Respect 

Respect must always be present even when there is a language barrier. In a workplace with different languages, misunderstanding is the biggest hurdle. Encourage employees to respect their colleagues and never allow them to mock or joke about the inadequacies of others’ speech when they are speaking a language that is foreign to them.

A workplace with fractured relationships because of these jokes leaves LEP employees without confidence. As a result, output can be affected and it can impede improvements on skills because these employees don’t feel they can speak up or ask for help.

Providing Accurate Translations

Translation is key in a multi-language workplace. Because it’s important for all employees to be on the same page, the company needs a great language services provider to translate team documents accurately and effectively. This is especially important if you have offices in different countries that need to understand the same text.

If a translation platform or language services provider isn’t the right choice for your company, consider using an in-house translator or interpreter. This person can help to translate vital information and documents to the primary language in the location where they are based. This way, no communication is left to chance.

Language Training 

Language training is important and can deal with most of the problems posed by a multilingual workplace. A workplace will thrive when employees are trained on the basic aspects of their host country’s language. Also, by establishing that employees will speak in a common language, it’s easier to get things done. For example, State Department officials always take a crash course in the language of the country in which they will be stationed so that they can talk to locals and make their host country more at ease.

While it may seem like a problem, having a multi-lingual workplace is a blessing in disguise. It opens up the organization and its employees to new opportunities and cultures.

Overcome the language barriers in your organization and watch your workplace thrive with services from Acutrans.