CLEVELAND, Oct. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Talking with nonnative English speakers, both at home and abroad, requires more awareness to ensure your words and messages are understood.
That is the advice of international business and cross-cultural expert Harriet Russell in her new book “Doing Business With Ease Overseas: Building Cross-Cultural Relationships that Last” (Indie Books International, 2016).
“The potential for confusion creates stress or impatience and can also strain or break business relationships,” advises Russell.
For 30 years Russell has been doing one thing: stopping people from offending each other when doing business internationally. From managing public relations at Sony to helping the U.S. State Department in Minsk, Russell helps others understand when “yes” really means “no” or “maybe.”
“English is often the language of multicultural business communication, but it can be difficult to understand the English of nonnative speakers who are not fluent,” says Russell.
Here are Russell’s top ten tips for better intercultural communication:
- Ask the speaker to talk more slowly.
- Relax and remember to listen and try to understand.
- Repeat what you think the speaker has said.
- Read the speaker’s lips.
- Do not interrupt the speaker. Give him or her enough time in which to communicate.
- Observe body language and other nonverbal signals.
- Encourage the nonnative speaker to give a written summary.
- Share responsibility for poor communication.
- Beware of a positive response to a negative question.
- Beware of a qualified “yes,” in response to the question, “Do you understand?”
“Verbal communications with others who are not bilingual and whose English is a second language takes patience, relaxation, and openness,” says Russell. “When we relax, we are more able to drop expectations and linear thought of how things should be. We can then move into becoming more creative in our way of communicating, hearing beyond the words and into the heart of the meanings.”
Russell’s book highlights the principles of self-awareness, nonjudgment, and acceptance of others, while also seeing the whole picture to bring success in cross-cultural business relations.
She also cautions about the use of sports jargon such as ballpark figures, dropped the ball, or covering all the bases.
“Americans often like to use sports jargon in business,” says Russell. “These expressions are so common among fluent English speakers that many forget the expressions are jargon, a specialized language. Avoid them.”
Other things to avoid are jokes, sarcasm, slang, and confusing negative questions such as “So, you’re not going to do that, are you?”
Russell also offers a final caution: “Do not judge someone’s intelligence by his or her lack of fluency in English.”