Language is inherently powerful. It has the power to inspire, encourage, frustrate, and confuse.
Even when two people speak the same language there are endless opportunities for communication to breakdown.
Facial expressions turn into frustrating misinterpretations of intent. Poorly chosen words ignite confusion that, over time, erode trust capital among coworkers.
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”Mark Twain
Since we’re all living, breathing human beings, none of us are immune to the side effects of poor communication because, despite our very best efforts, we don’t always say exactly what we mean.
The business world is fertile ground for communication breakdowns to cause problems.
Common business casualties that result from poor communication
A recent study sponsored by The Economist Intelligence Unit in partnership with LucidChart revealed that poor communication leads to:
- project delays (44%)
- low employee morale (31%)
- missed employee performance goals (25%)
- more on-the-job stress (52%)
- lost business (18%)
What happens when you add a language barrier?
Most business school students can recall, and maybe even recite, the seven barriers to effective communication: perceptual barriers, physical barriers, emotional barriers, gender barriers, cultural barriers, interpersonal barriers, and yes, definitely language barriers.
We can spend a seven-part blog series unpacking how all of these barriers work together to create a perfect storm of misunderstanding, but for now, we’ll stick with unpacking the barrier of language.
While the obvious language barrier happens when two people don’t speak the same language (actually, this is more like a language wall), language issues often show up in more subtle forms than simply not speaking the same language.
For instance, literal translations from other languages can cause confusion. False cognates (pairs of words in different languages that read or sound similar, but have entirely different meanings), are a major contributor. Even subtleties in different dialects of the same language can cause confusion. Feel free to compare Australian or New Zealand English to American, Canadian or British English.
Matters become worse if you work in a particular technical field. Industry jargon can add another barrier that can be hard to overcome.
Language training can help
Language challenges are unique to every organization. They impact your teams and processes that are specific to the work you do, the customers you serve, and your strategic initiatives that range from global expansion, employee retention, and compliance.
Solving some of these challenges with a high-quality language training solution could shift how your employees work together across geographic and linguistic borders—all while helping your business achieve larger growth and efficiency goals.
Since there are no one-size-fits-all approaches to solving language challenges across your organization, we put together this short, eBook to help you identify the 9 common warning signs your employees need language training.