How To Overcome Language Barriers in Business

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In today’s world, many of the traditional barriers to overseas business have been toppled. International travel gets us from A to B in no time. We can do business online with ease, with any country on earth, never leaving the UK unless we really want to. International trade is the way of the modern world. But still, language barriers remain. In a tough global economy, speaking the same language as your partners, suppliers, consumers or colleagues abroad makes a difference, giving you a handy competitive advantage. Many businesses are changing from one language to multilingual, making them easier to trust and respect abroad, and more attractive in general to overseas markets. Is it about time you learned a second language for business? Read on to find out more.  

What are language barriers in business?

Language barriers aren’t uncommon in our multinational business world. It’s no surprise when businesses frequently need to communicate with companies from every corner of the globe. When you don’t speak the same language it’s easy to get into trouble during face-to-face meetings, cause confusion on conference calls, send email messages full of misunderstandings, annoy people and make horrible mistakes. From a human perspective, being unable to communicate clearly means it’s easy to make people who speak a different language feel uncomfortable, lose their trust in you, or feel disrespected.

It isn’t just about the words either. Language barriers also mean cultural barriers. Learning a language for business means you stand a better chance of overcoming any cultural barriers, creating warm, positive, productive business relationships. 

How to overcome language barriers in business

There are plenty of great ways to overcome language barriers in business, some simple and others requiring a little more work and dedication. Here are five of the best.

Provide language training – When you provide language training for your people, you invest in their future as well as the future of your business. Happy, confident employees are less likely to leave the company, more likely to succeed in their roles, feel like you really do care about their performance and their future, and enjoy their jobs more as a result. 

Make use of interpreters – It’s a great idea to find yourself an expert interpreter, someone who can be with you whenever they’re needed to make sure everything is properly understood. An interpreter translates verbal communications from one language to another, helping both parties understand the conversation they’re having and share information with confidence. They’ll listen to the spoken word in one language, understand the context, translate it into another language, and can even make reverse translations from one language to another, all in real-time.

Hire a translator – A translator translates written communications from one language to another. They analyse the context, understand the culture behind the language, and can also proofread your foreign language documents for accuracy, making sure they’re easy to understand as well as correct and specifically localised for the target country.

Translate documents –Rather than struggle to cope and potentially get things wrong, or send a document to an overseas partner that doesn’t make sense, it’s a great idea to translate business documents with the help of a professional translator. You can translate documents for overseas consumption, and translate those originating overseas. This way, everyone involved understands everything perfectly.

Make use of visual communication –Novelists do it all the time. Showing someone something is almost always more powerful than telling them. Think instructions and you get the picture. Can you portray what you want to say more clearly using imagery, in pictures rather than written or spoken words?

How Dialogue can help with language barriers in the workplace

We help businesses with expert translation and interpretation services, and with language training designed specifically for business. With our help you’ll be able to swim confidently and freely in overseas waters, understand the context as well as the meaning of communications from and to people who speak different languages, and do business better everywhere in the world your business operates. What can we help you with today? 

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