When it comes to communicating with your employees and clients, knowing the language of your audience will help you understand them better and improve your communication strategies.
This means that multinational companies need to know how to speak effectively across different cultures, as well as get their message across in the most effective way possible, whether it’s through social media, telephone conversations, or business meetings.
To help you avoid misunderstandings and reduce miscommunications in your multilingual business, here are ten business communication tips to follow.
1. Get a Professional Translator
In order to be successful in an international marketplace, it’s important to have a strong grasp of the languages your customers speak. It is also crucial to have a professional translator on staff who can assist in communicating with your clients.
Here are the basic skills that a good translator should have:
- Be able to greet customers in the language they speak
- Know basic words and phrases used locally in the country
- Ensure that your website has versions in several languages
A professional translator can help you communicate with customers from around the world by providing translations into English or another language of your choice. They will then act as a bridge between you and your customer.
Consider the following things before hiring and when working with translators:
- Look for a proficient translator
If you need translations into English, consider looking for someone who speaks both English and the target language well.
You should also look for someone with experience translating various types of documents, not just general business documents but other types, including technical manuals or specific industry-related materials.
For example, if you are involved in the financial sector, you might want to work with a professional who is fluent in both English and French (or Spanish).
- Follow up with feedback
Even though you may think you’re speaking with a native speaker, it never hurts to give them a call after your meeting just to make sure you got everything right. You can also partake in international calling and empower your business.
- Beware of shoddy online tools
There are many online tools available that claim to offer free or instant machine translation services. These tools generally don’t do very well and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional human translators.
- Involve your translators in the process
One way to increase the efficiency of a translation project is to involve your translator early in the process. This way, they’re more likely to know the context of your document and be able to suggest appropriate terminology.
2. Make Sure You’re Using the Right Jargon
Being multilingual is great, but it also brings its own set of challenges. Every community has its own jargon, so it is important to learn that in addition to the language.
There are some simple steps you can take to communicate more effectively in your business. Below are ten tips that will help you communicate better with people who speak different languages from yours:
- Find out about the correct pronouns and terms used for addressing individuals, for example, names, titles, and nationalities.
- Make sure that you get all of the nuances across – try to find out if there is a word or phrase used in one culture but not another.
- Don’t assume that other cultures understand sarcasm – it may not be well received.
- Try to keep it short and sweet; long messages often lose their meaning because they don’t fit into cultural norms.
- Always read over your message twice, even if it doesn’t seem necessary.
- Check your understanding with the person on the other side of the conversation by asking them what words might mean something different than what you’re expecting.
- Spell-check everything, including company names and acronyms – English words might even be spelled differently in another country.
3. Use Simple Language
Communication is vital to any successful business, but it can be especially tricky when you’re running a multinational organisation. If your company does business in more than one language, you will need to tailor your communication strategy to accommodate this.
For example, using simple language or the same jargon across all languages is a good way to make sure everyone in your team understands what’s going on.
It’s also important not to assume that everyone speaks the same native tongue and to make sure there are translated materials available so people who speak English as their second language can still understand what’s happening.
4. Don’t rely on Google Translate
Don’t rely on Google Translate to communicate with your international customers. It may be tempting to use the tool because it’s free, but it won’t get you the same results as paying a professional translator.
It can take longer to translate content, and there’s no guarantee that it will convey the right message or tone. Instead, try these business communication tips:
- Prepare translations ahead of time so they’re ready when needed
- Keep in mind that different languages have different sentence structures and word usage.
- Be wary of cultural references specific to one language – if you don’t know what they are, don’t use them!
- Avoid slang terms unless you know for sure it translates well across languages.
If you have the funds, it can also be a good idea to invest in secure translation software for business use. This could help save time, reduce dependency on employees and streamline business processes.
5. Avoid Using Slang
Using slang in business communications can often lead to misunderstandings and, in some cases, miscommunication. While you may not realize it, slang is often regional or has a different meaning when used outside of the context of your area.
For example, if someone from Boston says wicked as an adjective in conversation with someone from California, the person from California might not understand that this means really good or awesome.
Likewise, if someone from New York City uses the word y’all to address multiple people from Louisiana, they might be taken aback by the response Y’all who? Because y’all is pronounced how-y-uhl in Louisiana.
One way to avoid this type of confusion is by using less common phrases such as:
- To what extent do you have control over…?
- What are your thoughts on…?
- I’d like to know more about ____.
- Have you had any experience with _____?
- What’s your opinion about ______?
- Do you think _______ will work?
- Should we try ___ first?
6. Know Your Audience
In order to successfully communicate with your global audience, you need to know who they are. What language do they speak? Do they read from left to right or top to bottom? What is their cultural background?
This helps when developing your communication plan. You might want to consider using one language for external communications and another for internal communications.
It may be a good idea to create a glossary of common words that may be misinterpreted if used in the wrong context.
If a word doesn’t translate well in another language, try rewording it so that it does. Sometimes this can require doing some research on how people use similar phrases in other languages.
Think about the tone of voice you use when saying things. Is it formal or informal? Again, knowing your audience will help you determine what tone will work best for them.
7. Use Visual Aids
Communication is an essential aspect of any business, but communication in a multilingual environment can be more complex. Some people may speak two or three languages fluently, while others may not speak a second language at all.
If you are running a multinational company with employees from around the world, you will need to make sure that your business communication is clear and effective for everyone.
This means using visual aids to present information, such as graphs and charts so that anyone who needs it can understand what’s going on.
It also means learning about the cultural norms of different countries, so you know how best to communicate there. For example, if some cultures prefer direct confrontation over indirect confrontation, then this should be reflected in how you communicate in these situations too.
You should also learn the symbols they use to convey emotion because this might help you better understand their culture.
8. Invest in Corporate Culture
In order to be successful, you need to be able to communicate in the language of your customers. The best way to do this is by hiring staff that speak the language of your target market or by outsourcing translation services.
When it comes to communicating with your employees, it’s important that they all speak the same language so they can understand each other and collaborate well.
There are several ways to make sure people understand what you’re saying. For example, you can provide instructions on vocabulary.
Other tips include speaking at a reasonable pace, keeping sentences as short as possible, avoiding jargon, and using illustrations and pictures.
9. Have Patience
Communicating with people in different languages can be challenging. Be patient, and don’t expect to have everything figured out right away. Here’s what you can do:
- Speak slowly and use a variety of gestures, like pointing or nodding your head, when you talk.
- Be sure to use the same facial expressions that you would if you were speaking the person’s native language.
- Try to limit yourself to one or two key phrases in the other language at first if you are careful not to make any grammatical errors.
It may take some time before both sides feel comfortable communicating this way, but it is well worth the effort.
Don’t expect perfection; if you make mistakes while communicating in another language, try not to get discouraged!
It is normal for people learning another language to stumble occasionally because they don’t know all the words yet or how certain phrases work.
The other person will likely understand what you’re trying to say, even if there are occasional misunderstandings. Just keep practicing and stay confident!
10. Check for Understanding
The more time you spend ensuring communication, the smoother it will be. Here’s a list full of tips for clear and seamless communication:
Use brief, clear, and accurate language – Use short sentences and make sure there is a pause between sentences, so people have time to process what you just said before going on to the next sentence.
- Don’t use the same words in all languages because the same word can have a different meaning in English and Spanish, for example.
- Avoid confusing cultural references that may not be understood by everyone in your company
- Speak slowly when communicating with someone who doesn’t know the language well
- Maintain eye contact when listening to someone
- Pay attention to body language, as it can show if someone needs time to process what you said
Becoming multilingual can be an incredible asset to your business. But even if you only speak English, knowing how to communicate with clients and customers in their native language will make them feel like you value them and will lead to higher conversions on your site, more sales, and more satisfied customers in the long run.
Business communication isn’t just about language; it’s about culture as well.
If you have employees and customers who speak more than one language, this becomes even more important since you don’t want your business communication to offend anyone or make them feel left out.
Following these ten simple tips will help you keep communication in your multilingual business on the right track and promote success at every level of your enterprise.