When communicating with people for whom English is a second language:
- Construct your sentences carefully and precisely
- Don't shout
- Speak slowly and distinctly
- Avoid pidgin English
- Emphasize key words
- Allow pauses
- Let the worker read your lips
- Use visual aids
- Organize your thoughts
- Use handouts
- Use nonverbal signals (cautiously)
- Be aware of your tone of voice
- Use familiar words
- Repeat and recap frequently
- Take care not to patronize
- Check often for understanding
- Don't cover to much information at one time
- Be careful when translating
- Choose interpreters carefully
- Use bilingual group leaders.
When assessing how well you've been understood:
- Watch for nonverbal signs that indicate confusion or embarrassment
- Notice a lack of interruptions
- Notice employees' efforts to change the subject
- Notice the complete absence of questions
- Notice inappropriate laughter
- Invite questions in private and in writing
- Allow enough time for questions to be formulated
- Be alert to the yes that means "Yes, I hear your question" not "Yes, I understand"
- Be alert to a positive response to a negative question
- Be alert to a qualified yes in response to the question, "Do you understand?"
- Have the listener repeat what you have said
- Observe behavior of employees and inspect production.
To understand people who are learning English:
- Share the responsibility for poor communication
- Invite the speaker to speak more slowly
- Repeat what the speaker has said
- Encourage the worker to write
- Allow the worker to spell difficult words
- Read the speaker's lips
- Give the speaker plenty of time in which to communicate
- Listen to all that the speaker has to say before assuming that you don't understand
- Observe body language
- Remember to listen and expect to understand.
SOURCE: Bridging Cultural Barriers for Corporate Success: How to Manage the Multicultural Work Force, by Sondra Thiederman, Lexington Books (a division of Macmillan, Inc.), 1991.
Personnel Journal, February 1993, Vol. 72, No. 2, p. 62.