Mobility – October 2019 - 48

I

n 2013 a client asked me, "Why
do I understand you, but I don't
understand my co-workers?" I was
doing an intake for a new language
training client whose employer
was relocating him from South Korea to Texas. His
first few weeks in Dallas had been a whirlwind of
onboarding, learning new health insurance benefits, and getting his daughters enrolled in school, so
I wanted him to feel comfortable speaking with me
for the first time. Only when he made that comment did I realize I was subconsciously changing
the way I spoke English with my clients who were
not native English speakers. I was speaking his
language-and I don't mean Korean.
It's the same reason non-native English speakers
often can better understand other non-native English
speakers-because they speak to each other in a
similar non-native way that is easier to understand.
Even if inadvertently, due to more than a decade of
doing new client intakes, I already knew the words
they wouldn't understand, so I used the words I
knew they would understand. I knew the sounds they
wouldn't understand, so I clarified those sounds. And
I employed various other tricks. Changing the way I
communicated didn't take away from my meaning; I
was just saying things in a way I knew would be clear
to my listeners, making communication easier.
Then I thought, if we could educate colleagues who
speak only English about how to speak like that, then
everyone could communicate better almost instantly;
whereas, if we focused only on the expats' fluency, it
would take 100-plus hours to reach a new level. So
whether you're in HR, you're the CEO or an account
executive for an international relocation company,
or you work with a multilingual workforce, you can
improve communication immediately with a few
basic insights. (For simplicity, I'm going to use examples based on the English language, but this works
for any language.)
I call this technique "SASS": slow down, ask for
input, simplify, and support.

Slow Down

This first principle seems so obvious, but it's one of
the most overlooked. A joke among those who speak
a second language is that when you ask a native
speaker to slow down, they immediately say, "Yes,
of course, sure," and then they continue talking at

48 Mobility | October 2019

exactly the same speed. You simply don't realize how
quick your native speed of talking is.
A study at the Université de Lyon examined the speed
at which various languages-French, Japanese, English,
German, and others-are spoken. The research concluded that some languages sounded as if they were being
spoken more quickly due to the number of syllables pronounced per second. However, in the final analysis, each
language told the same story in the same amount of time.
In other words, we each speak our native language at the
same speed. The lesson is, if you're a native speaker, be
aware that you speak incredibly fast for someone who
is not a native speaker, no matter which language you
speak. So, however slowly you think you're talking, do it
at about 50% of what you think is slow.

Ask for Input

Asking for input ensures your message is received
clearly. When I was working in Mexico, my boss
would rattle off, in Spanish, a long list of things
she needed me to do. Then she would end our
conversation with: "Got it?" or "Understand?" For
fear of sounding as if I didn't understand-which I
hadn't-I would lie and say yes. Obviously, this is a
horrible way to be productive and do your job well.
But I was afraid to admit that I hadn't understood.
There is a way to mitigate this. When you are
speaking with someone in their non-native language, a great way to make them feel comfortable
and ensure the message was delivered clearly is to
ask them, "What do you think about that plan?" or
"What do you think we should do first?" Do not ask
yes-or-no questions, and most definitely do not ask,
"Did you understand?" Even if they think they understand, there is no way to be sure they did. The brain
skips over words and phrases it does not understand
or hasn't received before, so they might honestly
think they understand. By asking for input about the
plan or the process you just relayed, you will be able
to see whether the message was delivered clearly.
We trained one HR director on this very skill, and
she began to see right away that her employees were
not fully understanding what she was saying. Since
she has started asking for input, they are all aware
that they are missing certain parts of the conversation, and now they can walk through each part of
what was said and make sure everyone is on the
same page. No one asks, "Got it?" because they now
know that it only leads to miscommunication.



Mobility – October 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Mobility – October 2019

Mobility – October 2019 - Cover1
Mobility – October 2019 - Cover2
Mobility – October 2019 - 1
Mobility – October 2019 - 2
Mobility – October 2019 - 3
Mobility – October 2019 - 4
Mobility – October 2019 - 5
Mobility – October 2019 - 6
Mobility – October 2019 - 7
Mobility – October 2019 - 8
Mobility – October 2019 - 9
Mobility – October 2019 - 10
Mobility – October 2019 - 11
Mobility – October 2019 - 12
Mobility – October 2019 - 13
Mobility – October 2019 - 14
Mobility – October 2019 - 15
Mobility – October 2019 - 16
Mobility – October 2019 - 17
Mobility – October 2019 - 18
Mobility – October 2019 - 19
Mobility – October 2019 - 20
Mobility – October 2019 - 21
Mobility – October 2019 - 22
Mobility – October 2019 - 23
Mobility – October 2019 - 24
Mobility – October 2019 - 25
Mobility – October 2019 - 26
Mobility – October 2019 - 27
Mobility – October 2019 - 28
Mobility – October 2019 - 29
Mobility – October 2019 - 30
Mobility – October 2019 - 31
Mobility – October 2019 - 32
Mobility – October 2019 - 33
Mobility – October 2019 - 34
Mobility – October 2019 - 35
Mobility – October 2019 - 36
Mobility – October 2019 - 37
Mobility – October 2019 - 38
Mobility – October 2019 - 39
Mobility – October 2019 - 40
Mobility – October 2019 - 41
Mobility – October 2019 - 42
Mobility – October 2019 - 43
Mobility – October 2019 - 44
Mobility – October 2019 - 45
Mobility – October 2019 - 46
Mobility – October 2019 - 47
Mobility – October 2019 - 48
Mobility – October 2019 - 49
Mobility – October 2019 - 50
Mobility – October 2019 - 51
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Mobility – October 2019 - 53
Mobility – October 2019 - 54
Mobility – October 2019 - 55
Mobility – October 2019 - 56
Mobility – October 2019 - 57
Mobility – October 2019 - 58
Mobility – October 2019 - 59
Mobility – October 2019 - 60
Mobility – October 2019 - 61
Mobility – October 2019 - 62
Mobility – October 2019 - 63
Mobility – October 2019 - 64
Mobility – October 2019 - 65
Mobility – October 2019 - 66
Mobility – October 2019 - 67
Mobility – October 2019 - 68
Mobility – October 2019 - 69
Mobility – October 2019 - 70
Mobility – October 2019 - 71
Mobility – October 2019 - 72
Mobility – October 2019 - 73
Mobility – October 2019 - 74
Mobility – October 2019 - 75
Mobility – October 2019 - 76
Mobility – October 2019 - 77
Mobility – October 2019 - 78
Mobility – October 2019 - 79
Mobility – October 2019 - 80
Mobility – October 2019 - 81
Mobility – October 2019 - 82
Mobility – October 2019 - 83
Mobility – October 2019 - 84
Mobility – October 2019 - 85
Mobility – October 2019 - 86
Mobility – October 2019 - 87
Mobility – October 2019 - 88
Mobility – October 2019 - 89
Mobility – October 2019 - 90
Mobility – October 2019 - 91
Mobility – October 2019 - 92
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Mobility – October 2019 - 94
Mobility – October 2019 - 95
Mobility – October 2019 - 96
Mobility – October 2019 - 97
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Mobility – October 2019 - 99
Mobility – October 2019 - 100
Mobility – October 2019 - 101
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Mobility – October 2019 - Cover3
Mobility – October 2019 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility-june-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility-may-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility-april-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility-march-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility-february-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_122020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_112020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_102020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_092020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_082020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_072020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_062020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_052020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_042020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_032020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_022020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_012020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_122019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_112019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_102019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_092019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_082019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_072019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_062019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_052019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_042019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_032019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_022019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/WERC/mobility_012019
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com