Watch your Language
Employee Management Articles
Submit Articles Back to Articles
The truth about language, diversity, and customer
If you employ
workers whose first language
isnít English, you may have come to regard these individuals as your
organizationís greatest resource.
are hard working, appreciative, and utterly reliable.
Unfortunately, these same workers may also be
your organizationís greatest vulnerability.
Employees whose English isnít proficient may be
straining relationships with your customers.
Simply put, if customers canít easily understand your
will take their business elsewhere; to a place where they wonít have to
hard to spend their money.
Thatís why when
organizations bring me in to do customer service training seminars for
team members, we occasionally need to address some of the language
issues. Feel free
to pass these tips to your team
English is your Second Language
locals are friendly
As a foreign-born
person now working in Canada or the USA, you may have experienced some
customers being impatient or rude.
might possibly interpret this as bigotry or racism, when in most cases
isnít. More likely,
if your English
skills (or in Quebec,
your French language skills) arenít proficient, then chances are,
main reason customer are being less than friendly.
So, letís talk about English language skills.
Donít stop improving
The fact that your
employer hired you indicates that you already have a basic
understanding of the
English language. However,
understanding is only the beginning.
need to know the language well enough to clearly understand requests
customers, coworkers, and supervisors.
And you need to speak English fluently enough to be easily understood
When it comes to
improving your English, youíll get the fastest results by enrolling in
on English as a second language (ESL).
These programs are widely available through community
colleges and other
providers. As for
the cost, it is money
well spent. By
improving your English as
quickly as possible, you make yourself available for jobs that involve
interactions with customers. These
the kinds of jobs that typically bring-in more income.
In other words, you are not saving yourself
or your family any money whatsoever by choosing not to invest in
lessons. To get the
greatest return on
that investment youíll also need to practice.
When to speak English
No matter how many
courses you take, your English will not improve unless you actually
The perfect place to do this is at work. Even if
your workplace has
lots of people who
speak the same language other than English, take the opportunity to
Whatís not appropriate
is speaking your first
language with a co-worker, then suddenly becoming silent when a
approaches. That can be perceived to be rude.
It makes customers feel like they are not welcome; as
though they are
invading a private party. As
said, ďCustomers are not interruptions
to your work; they are the purpose
your work.Ē To
avoid creating these ill
feelings, make it a habit to speak English: a) during your working
hours and b)
in any location where customers have access.
If you are on a break and
location thatís designated for ďemployees onlyĒ, then you might choose
your first language with a coworker.
Keep in mind though, that the more you practice speaking
English Ė even
during breaks - the easier it becomes.
Plus, you and your coworkers can help each other to
Bottom line - your
job is more than a just wage; itís an opportunity.
Itís an opportunity to help yourself and your
family. Itís an
opportunity to build
itís an opportunity to
master a new set of skills. One
make the most of this opportunity is to focus on practicing and
English. Good luck!
About the Author
service strategist and certified professional speaker Jeff Mowatt has
working on improving his French for decades.
To order a copy of his book Influence
with Ease or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team,
Follow us @Scopulus_News
Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2011-02-08 17:05:13 in Employee Articles