How to Communicate in a Multicultural Workplace

Communication can be challenging in a multicultural workplace.

Communication can be challenging in a multicultural workplace.

With companies focusing on diversity in the workplace, it has become increasingly important to learn how to communicate in spite of cultural differences. You need to make sure talent isn't being hidden due to language and cultural barriers. and ideas can be lost if there is no way to communicate across cultural borders. The best way to overcome these challenges in a multicultural workplace is with open communication and knowledge. Making an effort to get along and understand one another will provide you with greater resources.

Hire an interpreter who understands a variety of cultures. If you have a large number of one nationality working for you, try to hire someone who was born there but is also fluent in English. That person can act as a translator for important events, meetings and daily communication. In some cultures, being approached by management is seen as being weak. Hire someone else who can be the go-between.

Communicate in a variety of ways. Try using e-mails, phone calls and face-to-face meetings. Different cultures prefer to communicate in different ways. Ask which method an individual prefers. For example, in some cultures, workers prefer a quiet pat on the back instead of being singled out in front of a group. Learning the best communication methods will help to bridge gaps.

Use both written and visual communication tools when presenting information. If spoken word is misunderstood, a picture will help to explain things.

Avoid using slang speech. For example, when employees are given something new and you say that they can "get their feet wet" with the task, some cultures make take it literally and assume you mean they will be standing in water. Use simple, direct language that is easy to understand.

Provide training for employees. Teach the importance of diversity, so everyone will be sensitive to others. Make sure everyone knows the expectations of the company and understands that tolerance and cooperation are part of the mission.

 

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Melody Dawn has been writing business articles and blogs since 2004. Her work has appeared in the "Gainesville Times," "Player's Press" and "USA Today." She is also skilled in writing product descriptions and marketing materials. Dawn holds a Master of Business from Brenau University.

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