Guest Post by Terry Kaufman, English Communications Consultant
Communication is effective when a message is clear. As a communicator, you are responsible for the language you use. It is your job to be sure that people understand you. The obstacle is that native English speakers often assume that everyone speaks and understands English.
This assumption can be dangerous and unproductive when you communicate with non-native speakers. Poor communication with non-native speakers may create feelings of alienation, hostility, and resistance due to the ineffective use of English. Those feelings could create an unfavorable working environment.
Here are 7 rules for a successful communication approach when you interact with non-native English speakers:
1. Never assume that non-native English speakers understand and speak English. Do not presume that they are capable of using English as fluently as native English speakers. Address differences in language and communication difficulties to create a communication-friendly environment.
2. Show non-native speakers that you are making an effort to speak their language. You do not have to be fluent in the language they speak. Try to learn important words and expressions to make a positive impression. If non-native speakers see that you are trying to speak their language, they will make an effort to speak your language.
3. Prepare differently. You cannot interact with a non-native speaker the same way you communicate with a native English speaker. Be aware of specific difficulties and prepare ahead of time. Before a conference call, meeting, or presentation, send a prepared written document to the non-native participants. Detail important items and action plans in clear and precise English.
4. Be creative. During a conference call, meeting, or presentation, it is important to improvise. Creativity is a key element in successful communication with non-native English speakers. Be attentive to their body language and non-verbal communication. Look for signs that they do not understand. If you sense that your message is not clear, be creative and use different words or sentence constructions. Do not hesitate to clarify by asking, “Is that clear?” and “What questions do you have?”
5. Use a thesaurus. A thesaurus is the most useful tool a native English speaker can use with a non-native speaker. One vital element of effective communication is the ability to systematically use different words if one word is not clear. If there is a word that a non-native speaker has difficulty with, replace it with a synonym.
6. Keep a journal. Communicating with non-native English speakers is a learning process. It takes time to see which methods and techniques work effectively. If you write down your interactions, you can see the techniques that work and the problems to avoid.
7. Smile! A smile is universal and communicates more than words. When you are sincere, a smile represents patience, warmth, kindness, and empathy. Those are important qualities you must have when you communicate with non-native English speakers.
The Y.E.S. goal is to promote awareness and empathy when native English speakers communicate with non-native speakers. It provides a complete approach to effectively communicate with non-native speakers and consistency through solutions depending on the native speaker’s needs.
Terry Kaufman: Seminar Leader and Program Director
Originally from Los Angeles, California, with a background in Human Development, I have been an English Communications Consultant and teacher for 12 years. Communication, culture, philosophy, and psychology have always been of great interest to me. Y.E.S. was born from my understanding of communication difficulties and cultural differences between native and non-native English speakers. Visit Terry on the web at www.your-english-solutions.com/