Digital Leadership & Soft Skills

Top 3 mistakes when working in English-speaking environment as a non-native speaker

Published by Pavel Nakonechnyy on in Leadership and Soft Skills.
Top 3 mistakes when working in English-speaking environment as a non-native speaker

Working in a primarily English-speaking business environment as a non-native speaker can present significant challenges. As someone who has worked in this type of environment for over two years, I have made major adjustments to my initial tactics and have become a much better Business English communicator. In this article, I will describe some of the mistakes I have made on this path and the lessons that others can learn from them.

1) Overcomplicated language. As a young professional with little work experience, I was eager to present myself as serious and competent. Unfortunately, it involved using redundant figures of speech learned from corporate America TV shows and old-school British courtesy.

As most of my colleagues have been Indian, Malaysian, Chinese, Polish, and Russian, they were nowhere near the ideal English speakers (and no one is) ranging in skills from requiring a translator in the person of his/her manager to a solid B2. British, Australian, or fluent colleagues didn’t use phrases like “Would you be so kind as to…” as Queen’s English is by far too formal and complicated to fit the corporate culture or modern business environment overall.

I soon realized that such language was not suitable for the modern business environment and that simpler, more straightforward language was more effective.

2) Active vocabulary. At the same time, while my Technical English was nearing perfection, I struggled with the deficit of Business English terms in my active vocabulary. To solve this problem, I have been writing lists upon lists of potentially useful words and phrases such as “business value, problem statement, challenges”. Looking back, I can safely say that it has helped enrich my active vocabulary a lot, thus making my speech and writing more concise and impactful.

3) Use of native language. Finally, back then I refused to use my native language for communication with anyone outside of my immediate team. We’re in the American bank after all. This stubbornness has led to several cases of miscommunication and even recipients ignoring my communications.

As a Business Analyst, I am meant to be a bridge between local Business and global Project Teams. Instead, I dully embraced the flaws of the global organization striving to become a cog in the bureaucratic machine.

I learned my lesson. And my tip for you will be: use your native language strategically. If you have colleagues speaking the same native language as you – don’t hesitate to use it instead of English to cooperate & collaborate more effectively.

Overall, working in an English-speaking environment gives you unique global exposure and helps advance your international career. However, non-native speakers must be prepared to face challenges and continuously work to improve their communication skills. By avoiding overly complex language, building a strong Business English vocabulary, and using native languages strategically, non-native speakers can become more effective communicators in the English-speaking business world.

TL;DR
– Overcomplicating language is a common mistake when working in an English-speaking environment as a non-native speaker.
– Active vocabulary in Business English can be a challenge, but writing lists of potentially useful words and phrases can help.
– Using native language strategically can greatly improve communication and collaboration with colleagues.
– Working in an English-speaking environment is beneficial for advancing your international career, but it requires effort and continuous learning.

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