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Do Your Coworkers and Clients Understand You?: Communicating with Non-Native English Speakers

hHow often do you talk to non-native English speakers at your job? With globalization on the rise, most professionals have seen their workplace become increasingly multicultural. Whether your company does business overseas, has clients from different countries, or employs workers from a range of backgrounds, odds are you speak with people whose native language is not English on a regular basis. Although you may think your speech is clear, sometimes native English speakers don’t realize how difficult it is for non-native speakers to fully hear and understand their full message. This can cause miscommunications which can lose clients and negatively impact your business. Take a look at these tips for improving communication with non-native speakers and making sure your message doesn’t get lost in the mix:

  • Slow Down: Rushing your words makes it difficult for anyone to understand you, but this is especially problematic for non-native listeners. Processing speech that is not in your native language takes more time, even if you are fluent. Slow down your overall rate, and pause in between thoughts.
  • Finish the Ends of Your Words: Most of us don’t realize how much we run our speech together and drop sounds from the ends of our words. This can make it very difficult for a non-native speaker to here where a word begins and ends. Make sure you’re saying each and every letter of each word you say, especially the consonants at the ends of words.
  • Avoid Slang: Chances are you use slang in your daily speech more often than you think! Think of all the phrases we use which don’t mean exactly what they say: “Drop me a line,” “On the fence,” “Seeing red”. If your listener looks confused, think about what you just said and use the most literal language possible.

Stay tuned: Next week we’ll provide more great tips for making sure you’re understood when speaking to native and non-native professionals alike!

Are you a non-native English speaker? What is it about your coworkers that makes their speech the most difficult to understand? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

If you have questions or are interested in improving your communication skills, give us a call at 212-308-7725 or send us an e-mail at info@corporatespeechsolutions.com.

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