Language forms the most important source through which we communicate and understand each-other. It is the only factor that can make you feel comfortable in an unknown surrounding. When you communicate, you become aware. This awareness creates a feeling and sense of being at ease psychologically and emotionally. This increased comfort level is due to our ability to communicate in the language that was understandable and comprehendible. However, people travelling abroad frequently face dilemmas because they are not able to speak the native language of the country they are travelling to. This incompetency to understand or speak a particular language is known as a, “language barrier”.
Taking the micro view in mind, language barriers create problems at individual levels for people to interact with each other and speaking economically for the whole nation at large by a macro perspective, it obstructs and hampers the country’s over-all growth and progress. Owing to the fact that communication is a two-way process and cannot be achieved single-handedly. Although English is commonly used in most parts of the world as the official language for business purposes it may not apply to every country or nation.
Organizations across the world are working continuously and putting in every effort to reduce these barriers and obstacles. They concentrate in increasing the bilingual and multilingual man-force that will help in communicating well. Other steps that can be listed in overcoming the language barriers in personal and professional dealings are as follows:
- Enunciate Properly: By focusing on speaking clearly and slowly even when pressured for time; it reduces the chances of misunderstandings and creates an atmosphere for fruitful communication to exist.
- Clarify: When in doubt or any confusion, ask for a clear picture through clarifications rather than using your own assumptions. Be sure that you have grasped and understood the information accurately as it was intended.
- Avoid idioms: Some idioms are not universal and may mean different things to different people depending on their culture and place of stay. It is better to avoid them, since the meaning and context of the whole language can be misinterpreted by using them.
- Avoid jargons: Try and incorporate simple terms that are generally easy to understand for others. Excessive use of complex words or terminologies as they can deter a healthy communication making it pointless, because it is not understandable by the receiver of the information.
- Be careful of abbreviations: Be careful of using three letter abbreviations (TLA’s) in the official set-up as sometimes not all of the official language is understood by every-one. If you have to use it then, use it as a parenthesis in the end by providing an explanation and thorough meaning in the beginning. This way others will get accustomed to it and ultimately learn to use it further.
- Define Business Basics: One of the foremost factors that help in reducing language barriers in the world of international business is by defining your own business basics by developing a shared vocabulary that is understood by everyone at your work-place. Investing time in this task can add to long-term growth and enhance the performance.
- Use multiple channels to communicate: By using multiple channels to communicate you will be assured that your information is processed in the exact same manner as you stated it. If you happen to send an e-mail then follow it up with a phone-call or try and send out agendas or even prepare a presentation in advance so it is of great help to those who are working in their non-native language to understand the material well.
- Learn to be specific and patient: State the expectations and deadlines clearly and specifically in advance. Cross- cultural communication may take more time initially so be patient.
Tim is a freelance writer and also contributes at Technovate Translations – a company that provides interpretation and document translation services. If not writing for the language and culture subject, he’s in the music room doing some guitar licks