Note: This article was first written and published under the title "4 Successful Strategies to Communicate Effectively in a Multicultural Environment" on seed4future.com
My starting life in America makes me have a deeper understanding of intercultural exchanges. First, America is the second multicultural country in the world after Canada, but also because of what I learned from my past experience working in a multicultural environment as a Communication Trainer in Cameroon and Uganda. One of the greatest lessons I learned is everybody does not necessarily communicate well in the host country's official language.
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In this article, I share with you 4 tips to understand others and be understood in a multilingual milieu. “Effective Communication in Multicultural Teams” is an exciting videoconference that gives you a broader look at multicultural environment teams.
1. Know your communication style. You need to know how you communicate easily. Are you a visual or listener learner?
My first job in America made me better understand my learning and communication style. Despite all the videos and the comment done during training sessions, I needed the practice to understand what they were talking about. I discovered that I was a pure visual learner. It means that I easily grasp written information but also demonstrated knowledge. It also means that I easily express myself by writing.
2. Enrich your vocabulary. One of the critical difficulties in communicating in a multilingual milieu is a poor vocabulary. Associating objects with their names when asking questions or transmitting information could help relate better with an interlocutor.
A friend of mine used to walk in conference rooms with a small notebook. He will write every new word he hears in his different interactions with people of different languages. He could now use those words properly in any conversation.
Maybe you can’t write everything, but you can easily pick up a word from a direct conversation and reuse it immediately. There is no better way to memorize new words and make rapid progress in intercultural communication.
3. Communicate with actions and images. Do what you say. This is how I can summarize the idea of action-oriented communication. Even with no knowledge of your learning style or a poor vocabulary, you can easily be understood if you make good use of actions and images.
I remember a situation where I could not express a request clearly. I just took a piece of paper with the images of what I needed and show it to one of my managers. He quickly understood what I wanted and helped me find a solution to the problem.
4. Practice! Practice! Practice! Finally, I can simply say that language improvement comes with practice. Take every opportunity to interact with someone who masters the language you learn. You’ll be amazed by the rapid progress you’ll make both in listening and speaking.
In Uganda, the only way to communicate was English. I had to download an English dictionary on my phone to have an accurate translation. My communication in English grew so fast that I was able to write articles in English.
Did you experience different strategies to successfully communicate in America?
I value your experience, and I would like to hear from you. Writing a short story of your language learning journey will enrich many.
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