David Ferrabee blogs today about the business world using English and the need to speak in the terms (language) of the customer. Makes a lot of sense. I’d extend it to more than just business. And more than just language. In fact, it’s a direct hit to Rule #1.But focusing on the issue of language, I have so far trained exclusively on American soil (though there are several rumblings that could change that fact) for English-as-an-only-language clients. But I think I’ve taught people from just about every nationality and tongue that has set foot in the business world in America. And it’s not just about speaking a single language that becomes an issue. It’s about the clarity of using that language, the speed at which it’s spoken, the idioms and colloquialisms, and all the other elements that make a message more than just the words that are said. I’ve heard (and been guilty of) English that was worse than a foreign language (because the assumption is that it could be understood — at least with a language I know is not understood, I can revert to using other forms of communcation!). And if there is a chance the message can be misunderstood, the burden is on the presenter to make it as clear as possible. When in doubt, leave it out. Or in this context, when in fear, make it clear.
Communicate clearly, regardless of the language requirements.
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Alan,Let me add another dimension. Many years ago I used to do political work in Quebec… Not quite America, but almost. And the argument was raised that health services needed to be available in both English and French. Because the language of the treatment is part of the treatment. Because of the milieu that I work in, I am very aware of that. But I would agree with you that within a single language the quality of the communication affects the impact on people just as much.Cheers/df