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Language and Intercultural Communication for a Multicultural Workplace: Key Themes and Customer Needs

As providers of language courses and intercultural communication training we at BBi Communication have clients from varying backgrounds, industries and organisations. Even with such variety, we see several themes that are consistent across organisational demographics. In this article, we’ll share our top-five pressure points which have led to many mutually-beneficial experiences with clients.

Barriers to communication 

When people with varying language levels interact, communication is restricted. Frustrations build as people struggle to express themselves, feel understood, and feel valued for their abilities and perspectives. We call this the fluency gap. Cultural differences can add to these issues as well, due to the different approaches to themes such as time, hierarchical distance and direct or indirect communication. This can be commonly seen in organisations which have recently undergone a merger or acquisition, as well as in multicultural teams.

Diversity, equity and inclusive cultures (DEI)

Expanding on the themes covered in the fluency gap, many organisations are recognising the impact of having an authentic commitment to the development and maintenance of DEI practices. Intercultural communication is an easy win for these aims as it not only increases awareness and understanding, but helps develop the needed climate and structure for open, honest conversations that contribute to creating the pillars of inclusion.

Increasing business opportunities 

If an organisation wants to do business in a new place, they must be able to communicate with the people there. This also includes understanding culture differences, as well as being able to work with each other to overcome those differences, and potentially turn them into advantages. Whether its new clients, suppliers, service providers or employees, any venture into a new area must be well prepared for. Without the proper language skills, there will be significant growing pains added to an already difficult and stressful process. Without intercultural communication training, the risk of unintentional yet damaging blunders is high. 

Expanding labour sources 

One of the effects seen from increased globalisation is more diverse labour-pools. When these new sources of labour are leveraged, there can be profoundly positive impacts on well-prepared organisations. Collaboration, employee & client satisfaction, innovation and productivity are some of the measurable enhancements seen from mindfully managed multicultural teams. However, to effectively be able to engage with these sources, language and intercultural differences must be understood, and organisations must develop themselves to support the changes that come along with it.

Employee Development 

When an organisation allows people to learn new skills and take on different challenges, they are more likely to increase more prospective employees as well as retain those they have. Language skills can help employees operate in new markets or increase collaboration amongst themselves. Our intercultural communication trainings help to facilitate a deeper, more nuanced connection and understanding of not only co-workers, but human-behaviour within interconnected societies.

Do you recognise anything listed above as a need within your team or organisation? Book a free, no-strings-attached 30-minute chat with us or take a look at our language courses (we offer niche courses such as Legal or Business English and Dutch as a second language) and intercultural communication trainings!

Paul Van Zanten
Paul is an American intercultural communications professional living in the Netherlands and connecting with his Dutch roots. With a passion for travel, as well as gaining new perspectives and experiences, Paul aims to further his growth, as well as that of others at Language Partners.

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