Effective Communication is key in today’s fast paced global marketplace. When more attention is paid to HOW something is said versus WHAT is said, communication is not efficient or effective. Communication begins at the individual level. Difficulty communicating can cause great frustration, reduced self-esteem, and thus reduced employee potential. When these speech and language barriers are addressed and broken down, the individual experiences less frustration, gains self-confidence, and communicates more effectively, all which lead to increased work productivity with lower employee turnover. The end result? Corporate savings!
One communication barrier is becoming more evident in the workplace than any other. As the business world becomes more global and companies are striving for diversification, accented English is encountered on a daily basis. Accents can be charming, but they also can impede workplace communication. Here are a few examples:
- Juan is a foreign born employee working in the financial industry. His company would like for him to take on more work responsibilities by making presentations and supervising more personnel. Although Juan has very strong technical skills and is a valued employee, his heavily accented English hinders his ability to communicate efficiently and effectively. He realizes that this communication barrier is a stumbling block to advancement within the company. Also, his company is not able to take full advantage of a valuable asset – Juan.
- Lise is a foreign born employee working as a computer technician. In her country, she was taught that it is important to speak softly to one’s superior as a sign of respect. Unfortunately, her boss, Mr. Larson, has a hearing impairment. This impairment coupled with Lise’s soft-spoken and accented speech makes for a difficult working relationship.
- Dr. Wujong is a foreign born physician practicing in the United States. His nurse has noticed that his patients frequently ask for clarification of the doctor’s orders or diagnoses. She senses the patients’ frustration with not being able to better understand what the doctor says and spends extensive amounts of time answering questions and clarifying to patients what the doctor has just told them. There is also the concern of possible malpractice litigation if the patient misunderstands instructions because of a communication barrier. In addition, hospital administration are mindful of the results of patient satisfaction surveys.
All of the above scenarios demonstrate a foreign accent communication barrier. Although certainly not a disorder, accents, as shown above, can disrupt the work environment. Accents evolve when English is filtered through a mother tongue and native language rules are incorrectly applied to English. Several factors determine how “thick” the accent is and involve many different areas such as stress, pitch, projection, rate, and specific sound productions.
With the world becoming more global, there are many more people in the US workforce who speak English as their second language. As illustrated above, the foreign accent communication barrier can be an issue not only between a business and their consumer (e.g., clients, customers, patients, suppliers, etc.,) but also an issue within the company itself (e.g., employees with supervisors, co-workers, colleagues, and employees they supervise). It has been reported time and time again how improving speech clarity helps increase both work productivity and customer satisfaction.
Corporate communication consultants can assist ESL speakers to improve their spoken English skills. Everyone benefits from improved communication. The employee gains self-confidence, reduced frustration, and increased productivity. Co-workers experience improved harmony and team cohesiveness. The customer gains timely results and satisfaction. And the employer benefits from increased profits! This is a WIN – WIN situation!
Because how you say it says a lot…
Contact Speech Advantage today to see how we can help you! CLICK HERE 608-663-3719 (USA)