We are constantly communicating with others, in our homes, in our workplaces, in the groups we belong to, and in the community. No matter how well we think we understand each other, we all tend to have our judgments about people who are from a different group to us.
All workers or stakeholders may not be fluent in the primary language used in the workplace. This can cause challenges, such as difficulty expressing their needs or difficulty negotiating.
You may need to adapt your communication to suit the need of your audience. This might include access to a translator, helping other employees and clients by repeating information/requests or translating written information.
Furthermore, “culture” is often at the root of communication challenges. Our culture influences our approach to problems, and how we engage with others. When we participate in teamwork, we are often surprised at how differently people approach tasks.
In different cultures, some words and phrases are used in different ways. For example, even in countries that share the English language, the meaning of “yes” varies from “maybe, I’ll consider it” to “definitely so,” with many shades in between.
For example, if there is the need for cross-cultural communication, strategies such as the following could be implemented:
- Developing an awareness of individual cultures and differences in communication.
- Keeping communication clear, simple and unambiguous.
- Avoiding humour as humour can vary across cultures.
- Being courteous and respectful.
- Using appropriate language
- Using aids or support to communicate, such as an interpreter.
Other factors that can support language that is appropriate for the audience includes:
- avoiding jargon
- using communicative body language
- positive body language such as eye contact
- using appropriate language
- allowing for diversity and different abilities
- avoiding slang, biased or euphemisms, sexist or racist language
- avoiding stereotyping
- language appropriate to the content and level of ability.
The language being used whether written or verbal may also be a requirement of the organisation such as the level of formality to be used or structure, style and format.