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Communicating effectivelyUnderstanding language gaps at work is crucial if you are committed to communicating effectively with your people.

Often we’re so busy from one meeting to the next that assumptions take over, and we think that people have understood our message. It’s not until mistakes emerge down the line that we can trace these back to a communication breakdown. So, what are the best ways to check employees have understood key information?

Show, don’t tell. Or show, and tell. Better yet, get people to summarise back to you what they’ve understood.

Concept check. Instead of the classic ‘ do you understand?’ question, try asking one or two open ended questions to check more deeply for understanding. Let’s say you are reminding your team about completing near miss forms and handing them in at the end of each month. You might ask: “Who should you return these to?” or “Where do you find near miss forms?” or “When do you need to complete a near miss form?” Falling into the trap of asking ‘do you understand?’ makes it all too easy for your group to nod yes, rather than speak up and feel embarrassed in front of their team mates.

Check out this useful article for a few more tips about communicating across the language barrier at work:

http://multilingualconnections.com/leveraging-language-learners/

One Comment

  • Jacki Jeanmonod says:

    Excellent advice on misuse of ‘do you understand’ I might try rephrasing this with my children.

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