Podcast, Remote Working

Building Empathy and Understanding in Multi-cultural Team Environments – Bridgid Farrell- All Talk Training

One of the major advantages of working remotely is being able to work from any corner of the world and being able to connect with people of different cultures and languages. Because of this, it is very common to stumble upon language barriers and overall communication issues that can obstruct the way of developing and educating teams on how they can work better and reach their top potential in multicultural environments. 

In this episode we’re going to be discussing how we can best prepare our businesses, our teams and even ourselves when it comes to multicultural communication and language barriers — Bridgid Farrell, who is an expert on the subject, is our guest today, and she’s the director of All Talk Training, an astounding platform dedicated to training international businesses and professionals all around the globe.

Language Training for Everyone


All Talk Training’s work is focused on the English Training and speaking, and with this goal in mind they take on both sides of the conversation; companies who are native English speakers working with remote individuals who are not, and native English speakers developing careers abroad all around the world with foreign language teams and companies — “So for companies, we help them reduce instances of miscommunication that arises from the fact that they have diverse teams from different language and cultural backgrounds. So as you mentioned, one form of that is English language training. And that includes the cultural train and that anybody learning English needs when they're dealing with people from other countries and especially with native English speakers. But then the other aspect of our business is helping the people on the other side of the conversation so the native English speakers who are dealing with all the people from all over from Spain, from friends from Japan, from Italy, from Russia from wherever, and being able to not just understand everything about one culture but to develop the skills that they need to work well in, in a diverse team, or within a diverse client base, for example. It takes different forms for different people within a company.” 

Cultural Barriers


But it is not only a matter of properly making use of the language, for Bridgid there are also very complex cultural intricacies where non-native speakers can sometimes miss the mark delivering proper tone or language etiquette for native speakers, and native speakers not knowing how to adapt or develop an openness to better understand or grasp what non-native speakers are trying to communicate without misunderstanding things in a negative or impolite way. “ So it's just developing this awareness and openness to make sure that communication is smooth within the team.” assures Bridgid. “...if you're a native English speaker dealing with people who you know your company languages, English, but you're a native speaker, and you're dealing with many non-native speakers, and the first thing you can do is just become aware of the language that you're using when speaking to non-natives. And I would say, go with our idea. Remember that we often use extra language that we don't really need to communicate a point. And just be aware that sometimes ask yourself, Is that really necessary for me to add in, for example, instead of just saying, could you send me the report, we often like to write I was wondering if you could send me the report. So just reduce kind of simplify the language. It's such a simple thing. And it's so easy, easily implemented, that it's kind of something that people can do straight away. And it makes a difference.” 

Having a Voice


According to Bridgid, this is a major issue that requires attention, because neglecting the task of concentrating on understanding non-native speakers or being understood by said workers can slowly lead to a situation where the non-native speakers can’t feel comfortable within their work environment, “I think a big danger on remote teams and culturally diverse teams is that not everybody, even though they might be speaking the same language which it generally is English, might not all have the same voice. And they don't have the same voice because non-native speakers are generally held back by themselves because they don't feel comfortable, or they don't feel confident speaking English […] So remember that for every native English speaker in that company who doesn't have to think about understanding, they don't have to concentrate on understanding others, whereas the non-native speakers really have to put in a lot of work all the time. It's very tiring to be working outside your native language. And so very often then we find with our clients as well, you know, the non-native speakers are left out, and they're great at their job. We don't want them left out […] we should really make a very comfortable space for them to share their thoughts and their opinions in meetings. So I think it's very important for leaders of remote but culturally diverse teams to be very aware of this and to do something about it.” 

A Shared Responsibility


In the end, is not just the responsibility of making sure that everyone in the team can fluently communicate with each other on the same level, but also making sure that within every level and aspect of their work environment everyone has a voice and the comfort and confidence to speak their minds and communicate without adversity. “So if we can just make sure that both sides take on the responsibility to clear up communication issues then. I mean, it's just its plain sailing for everybody.” Reflects Bridgid.

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