Communication in an International Workplace
Whether you have accepted a job transfer, or have found a new job once you moved internationally, it is very important that you open up communication lines with your new coworkers. These are the people that you are going to spend a large amount of time with, and you can either be miserable or pleasant while you are there. Why not do the best you can to make it an enjoyable experience? The only problem that could arise is how to communicate with people who are not from the same cultural background as yourself. Luckily, there are some things that you can do to help alleviate this problem.
Chances are pretty high that the new place you live and work does not speak the same language that you do. This might seem like an insurmountable barrier, but it does not have to be. You should do what you can to learn some of the language in your new land. You will not have to be fluent, but a few key phrases and their likely responses would go a long way. They also may speak a little bit of the language that you are used to. If they do, avoid using slang words. Slang is not often taught when learning a language, and while you are familiar with their meanings, your coworkers may not. Saying “what’s up” is an everyday occurrence between friends in America, but in your new country, they may take it too literally and not know what you mean.
Research Goes a Long Way
To go along with that, hopefully you have done a fair amount of research on your new country. It will be good to be prepared for what you might see or hear while you are there, so you will not be overwhelmed or blindsided by something you are not ready for. You should learn things like the names of places and stores, as hearing these names in conversation might give you a better idea as to what they are trying to say to you. Furthermore, you will not seem like such an outsider to your new brethren and they might be more willing to help you learn the new language. If you are there because of a job transfer, before your move you could talk to your boss and find out about the people in the branch you are moving to, or even email or call them ahead of time to build a relationship.
Most importantly though, you will want to make sure you are sending a clear and concise message to your new coworkers. A lot of the time communication breakdown happens with the message itself is not clear. This also applies to nonverbal communication. Hand gestures and body language could mean something completely different in the culture that you are moving to. The last thing you want to do is make a motion that offends everyone around you. Do some research online about how that culture communicates and what certain gestures may mean. You could be saying the nicest thing in the world, but your body language could imply hostility in which case your message could be interpreted as sarcasm or be lost altogether, leaving you and your coworker confused. So make sure you pay attention to not only what you say, but how you say it.