Effective communication in the workplace is key to a company’s success and morale, and different dialects or languages shouldn’t stand in the way of this.
In fact, research shows that bridging gaps in communication has numerous benefits for organizations and employees. A Forbes study found that a diverse and inclusive workplace is a major driver of innovation and growth. Similarly, data from VicHealth provides evidence that cultural diversity can enhance business performance and productivity, increase creative thinking, save time and money, reduce risk and promote staff health and wellbeing.
Sharon Melamed, Director at Matchboard, speaks five languages, has worked in five countries and is an accredited translator in Japanese and German. She’s seen first-hand how important it is to overcome language barriers in the workplace. “In Japan people sometimes gift fruit, as it can be very expensive”, she says. “When I was working there a Japanese employee gave an Israeli colleague a persimmon. However, he didn’t know the English word persimmon, so he said, “This is a ‘kaki’. In Hebrew, ‘kaki’ means faeces, so it was definitely one of those awkward moments.”
So, what are the best approaches in overcoming language barriers in the workplace?