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Language Barriers; I’m sorry I can’t understand your questions.

October 8, 2011

Our world is a very diverse place, diverse foods, diverse music and especially diverse people. Understanding a different accent can be very difficult and a lot of problems can arise from not being able to understand what your customers are saying. You can run into problem when customers begin to get frustrated because they don’t understand you; or they can become irritated because you can’t understand them. The trick is to listen and really pinpoint specific key words or phrases that will help you diagnose their questions. Here are some other tips according to that can be useful for you to overcome those language barriers.

1.  Adjust your “language level” to fit your audience or listener.

If you are speaking to a young customer, don’t overwhelm them with extensive vocabulary. Match their comprehensiveness

2. Pronounce all words carefully.

Be very clear when speaking. Don’t slur or mumble your words. Be clear when using difficult phases and don’t speak to quickly

3. Use only plain language, avoiding slang, jargon, or buzzwords.

English especially has a lot of jargon. Don’t expect someone of a different culture to understand words such as “tight” or “phat” for cool or even abbreviations such as omg “oh my god” or fyi “for your information”

4. Be aware of cultural differences

Educate yourself. Knowledge is power so take the time to get some basic information about all different types of culture. The more you know the easier it will be to communicate respectfully.      

5. Employ visuals to clarify your message.

Use images! Pictures are universal, don’t feel like you are insulting someone if your draw out or point out a visual tool to help them understand. They will most likely appreciate the effort.

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