In today’s globalised world, multinational organisations have become common, acknowledging the necessity of a multicultural and multilinguistic workforce. At CLIQ, we currently have 37 different nationalities. While our office language is English, our employees speak a wide range of languages from Dutch to Thai. This diversity makes CLIQ an environment that facilitates both cultural as well as linguistic diversity.
Here at CLIQ, we see diversity in all aspects as an asset, not as a burden. But while companies have to make an active effort for diversity and inclusion, we have posed ourselves the question: as individuals within an organisation, how can we ensure mutual understanding when communicating with one another? What do we need to look out for when we have such a diverse group of people?
In this blog article, we dive into multilingualism and different communication styles and how this is relevant to CLIQ and our employees.
LINGUISTIC AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY
Language is an important factor when it comes to feeling included within an organisation. We have probably all been in situations before where everyone else speaks a language that we cannot speak or understand. Or the other way around – someone joined our group who does not speak the language every other person communicates in. In many multinational organisations, English is used as a lingua franca. However, how about we switch it up from time to time when we notice that our colleague speaks a language we can understand as well? Let’s say our colleague speaks German, a language we learnt in school – we could try to have a conversation in this language during our coffee breaks. There are many ways to verbally communicate with one another. Acknowledging multilingualism in all its facets can have a real impact on individuals feeling included.
Another key understanding is that we should recognise the relevance of different communication styles over merely linguistic competence. This way, we can better ensure mutual understanding under various linguistic, cultural and social conditions.
It makes a real difference once we are aware of differences in communication styles. Just like verbal statements, people use a variety of non-verbal signals to interpret the meaning of a conversation, and this can vary across cultures. When it comes to verbal communication, it is useful, for instance, to consider the differences between high-context and low-context communication styles. Speakers who are used to a low-context communication style say things in explicit and direct ways. The opposite is true for high-context communication, which is defined by implicit and indirect statements in which meaning is embedded in the person or their sociocultural context. Especially when working together, these differences can lead to challenges. For this reason, we should be aware of them to avoid misunderstandings or the lack of openness and honesty between each other.
Therefore, and these are one of the highest values within our organisation, it is important to work together with respect and a strong sense of collaboration. Although we come from different backgrounds with different experiences, we meet each other on a highly professional and open-minded level and work together as one big team, across all offices, departments and teams. This is one of the biggest achievements of CLIQ’s company culture and what makes our multinational work context so special.