It goes without saying that English is a world language and that most who want to do business internationally need to do it in English. People from non-English speaking countries are not the only ones who may need to adjust their speaking habits – it can be of equal importance that native English speakers watch what they say!
In meetings involving people from multiple nations, Anglo-Saxons can sometimes stand out as strange because they cling to their original language instead of using the elementary English adopted by their colleagues from other countries. This is what the French computer engineer Jean-Paul Nerrière observed while serving as vice president of international marketing at IBM. He has developed guidelines and training in the form of two books to help non-native English speakers communicate with each other better by using Globish, a simplified subset of standard English, as a lingua franca.
These are some tips to make the life of your foreign business counterparts easier:
- Avoid using confusing, non-committal language, such as negative questions like “don’t you think that’s not really true?”
- Omit phrasal verbs;
- Don’t assume that because someone speaks English well they understand everything. It’s always better to check back information;
- Slow the information flow so that the other person won’t think that your speech is a continuous babble;
- Don’t take for granted a basic shared knowledge such as historical or cultural references: if you say you’re happy because the Ashes are back in England, it might not be so clear for a foreigner, unless he or she is Australian, in which case it would be wiser to keep quiet…!
The business relationships with your foreign counterparts improve at the same rate as your shared cultural experience. If you need any help in carrying out efficient global communication ask SanTranslate.