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Language is an important tool of understanding and communicating between any members of a community in all fields of life. For the process of communications and understanding to go smoothly, one must know and be aware of signs, symbols and meanings associated with each language, as well as the cultural side behind each symbol and sign. Learning a foreign language especially English can help felicitate an individual and community ways of understanding what is going on and help to integrate and benefit from achievements as well as increase innovation. Although English is regarded as the number one spoken language in the world. ‘one out of every five people on the entire Earth can speak English to some extent’ [englishenglish.com] which means fifth of the world which is not enough as those speakers come from different parts of the world and they come with different background, culture, value and beliefs. The English spoken in the UK is not the same English spoken in USA or Australia.
The importance of finding a universal language due to increased movement of people and the availability of different types of communication such as the internet and other means in economic, scientific fields and the expansion of economic transactions between countries and international companies to facilitate communication in meetings between representatives of the companies. The openness of the labor market which is a result of globalization made it easier for people to travel around and look for jobs in all parts of the world which led to the pursuit of employers and major companies to take advantage of this and search for employment that reduces cost and maximizes profits, but, there is a challenge that comes along with it, the world is diverse, people come from different characters, cultures, traditions and languages. Language is not just words that are put together and structured into a sentence; it is awareness of cultures, customs and values. Therefore, the language exchanged in many companies especially international ones has a huge importance, because it means the easy exchange of information and data relating to the job among the staff as well as instructions issued by the managers, it brings employees closer together if they can understand each other and understand any technical terms that relate to the job.
Religion, language and cultures are all factors that need to be taken into considerations when doing business. Each person is shaped by their own culture, where they realize it or now. Our very own opinions, beliefs and actions are dependent on the background we come from. We only realize our differences when we are faced with another culture and a different way of doing things. It is important to understand a culture to be able to communicate so that everything goes smoothly without facing problems.
A worker speaking little English might have a hard time communicating and speaking up and feeling frustrated whenever having to speak the language, I personally felt this way when I was in France and just started to learn French. It is the fear of being judged and lack of confidence in knowledge which can lead them to be closed in their personal space or even worse thing would be not understanding what they have to do exactly and doing the job wrong because they were afraid to ask for help.
There are different types of language that are not just expressed by words and language the is used differently between females and males and they all affect how people deal with each other in a multicultural business/work environment.
Despite the many differences in defining the concept of language, I think it is ok to agree that it is the tongue of a culture; it is the channel where information travels in a nation and from a nation to another.
Language is a pulse that interacts with feelings and sensations and affects them. Language is a profound mental logic that gives suggestions and gestures.
Body language is communicating with people without any words spoken that are used in all aspects of dealing with others. Movements by individuals, using their hands, facial expressions, tone of voice and headshaking so that the addressee understands the message better and often used by someone unable to express what they want to say in words and wanting to clarify by making hand movements.
Body language is an essential mean of communication with others that is used on daily basis. Non verbal communication is extremely important in every culture, as communication is not always with the use of words. Therefore, understanding body language and using it in a an effective manner , can improve relationships with others and may also help overcome and deal with different situations which one can be exposed to when doing business. Problems can occur from the misunderstanding of hand gestures or any other type of physical signals, because they can mean one thing in on culture and have a completely different meaning in another.
You can change your body language in the workplace and the way you are looked at work, what your non-verbal communication and body language sends different messages to people you work with in an intercultural environment depending on where they come from. Despite the fact that smiling is a form of welcome in many cultures, it can be viewed as a form of embarrassment in some Asian cultures. Working with different nationalities and understanding body language is a value to the employees. In certain places the right body language can help others see your openness, flexibility and honesty. Especially in American cultures as they are all about business and getting things right therefore, sitting upright in a chair during a meeting says that you are open and alert. But it can change completely once you put your hands behind you head or cross arms in front of chest, suddenly you are expressing boredom and superiority and puts you in a defensive position. Clenching fists that is related to anxiety or tension, scratching nose, forming a bridge with hands, reflects on lack of interest can probably make the people around you feel uncomfortable. Maintaining eye contact translate into honesty, but it is ok to look away at times as it can be seen as starring or being intense or in some Asian culture it can be looked as threatening.
Respecting personal space of others is a good way to express body language in a workplace. Personal space varies to individuals from different races. (ad example for the British here) Determining the appropriate body language in a workplace in relation to touching might be a bit sensitive. A firm handshake is welcoming but touching someone on the arm, tapping on the back maybe not be. Some find it normal and some others maybe feel uncomfortable with it.
In India the constant shaking of the head from side to side can be misunderstood as a non verbal way of saying no but is the contrary as it is a way to show that they understand what you are saying or a sign of agreement. Where in America shaking your head is a sign of disagreeing and saying “no” while people from some countries raise their chins. British people are said to be more reserved and formal. Americans are considered more open and outgoing, while Australians are seen as casual and relaxed.
Different interests and tendencies between the two genders might be a reason why they speak differently. Even though woman and men live in the same environment or have the same education and lever of profession growing up there were things that were acceptable for boys to do or say and were considered to be inappropriate for girls which is maybe a reason why they communicate differently.
A man has his own way of expression, he uses words that correspond with the meaning of what he wants to say exactly and briefly using specific terms that he really means while maintaining sequence. A woman may speak with simpler words and phrases. Even though they speak the same language, they do not talk in similar context. Men glorify power, efficiency and achievement. They do things to prove themselves, develop skills and strengths they have, define themselves by their ability to achieve results. Giving advice to a man without him asking for it might make him feel like he does not know what he is doing. Woman are quite the contrary, they appreciate communication, beauty and relationships. Their ideas of themselves are determined b their feelings and quality of the relationships, they feel fulfilled by participation, communicating and staying in touch. Which can maybe lead to woman getting more jobs in the service sector as they involve being chatty, social and having to face and deal with customers.
The different way of seeing things in a professional environment can lead to major miscommunication between the two genders. “men and women approach communication with different interpretive frames. Where one may expect direct explicit statement, the other maybe expecting indirect expression. Not meaning men are direct and women are indirect when one expects directness and the other uses indirectness wrong interpretations and miscommunications will be the result.
In a work environment if a boss who is male asks a worker who is female to finish a report he might be very direct and straight to the point while if it was a female boss she might choose her words more carefully and try not to be very pressuring if the job she asked for is not urgent.
Sigmund Freud said “He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.”
The definition of paralanguage is non verbal means of communication such as one of voice, laughter and sometimes gestures and facial expressions that accompany speech and convey meaning. Silence can also be considered as a type of paralanguage, even when we say nothing we mean something. For example, when a teacher decides to stop speaking during a lecture because of the noise in the room waiting for the students to become conscious of the silence and start paying attention.
In intercultural communication, paralanguage can be a bit puzzling. For example, Europeans interpret the loudness of Americans to aggressive behavior, while Americans might think the British are secretive because they talk quietly. Talking speed and the amount of silence in conversations also differ among cultures. The Japanese are comfortable having several pauses in their conversations, while Americans and many Arabic people are uncomfortable with any silence. Knowing this can help the work flow in a company go well without having workers and staff being offended and tense because you cannot change people and how they act you just have to adapt to the environment and accept change.
Learning and understanding the language used between the staff and administration is very important as it reflects the strength and depth of the relationship between the administration and the teams that belong to it. Which can be shaken or changed by the interpretation or misinterpretation of that language, especially when the administrations exercises its power on employees.
Knowing the meanings of words and sentences without knowing the meaning and cultural contextual use of each word is incomplete knowledge and the allegation that the foreign language learner does not need to know the cultural aspects contrasts with many goals of learning a foreign language.
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