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Overcoming Cultural and Language Barriers in a Foreign Workplace

Posted on August 12, 2023
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Why work abroad?

  • Earn higher salaries
  • Enrich communication skills
  • Get insights into a new culture
  • Develop an international mindset
  • Expand network globally
  • Upgrade career prospects

Overcoming Cultural and Language Barriers in a Foreign Workplace

As the world becomes more connected due to increased global trade and travel, people are getting prepared to meet people from new cultures, taste new cuisine, and make new friends.

With hundreds of languages and cultures the world over, it would be, therefore, tough to overcome these hurdles when you go abroad. But increasing numbers of multinational companies are hiring people from all over the world.

When a company is located in a non-English speaking country, people hailing from other countries would have to learn the language as well as the customs in the new place. Working overseas will present a problem not to just a few but a majority of the people intending to relocate.

This could lead to miscommunications when most of the employees are not working in a country where a language other than their native one is being spoken.

Here are some suggestions that may help people who work abroad.

Undergo a course to learn a language

Though locals wouldn’t immediately become very friendly, you will be on the road to interact with them personally in the future.

Talk about cultural diversities

Cultural diversities may pose hurdles in a work environment, but you can reduce them by talking with your peers about dissimilarities in cultures. It could include the way you greet or eat. You can avoid miscommunication by talking about it openly. These issues should be addressed by the time you begin working with one another.

Use simple language to interact

When you use simple lingo, most issues arising from language differences can be prevented. It is important to make a point when writing emails or preparing presentations, and that can be done without using complex language. Since not everybody may speak English, do not use sentences with difficult words.

Take the help of an interpreter

Even if most people are proficient in a language, which is not native to them at the workplace, a professional interpreter can come to their aid by getting rid of miscommunication. They also can help when complicated concepts are being discussed.

Translators can also work on translating essential office documents, such as office guidelines and procedures. It will create more transparency. Many organizations rely on in-house personnel who are proficient in two or more languages. But hiring a professional translator would be more helpful.

Make use of visual aids

You can make use of diagrams, infographics, signs, and other visual aids to help people understand what you are trying to tell them. Employees can be asked to use them while they are writing emails or making presentations to convey things more clearly.

Employees should be asked to respect each other’s cultures

When linguistic hurdles surface, it could lead to unpleasant situations. But people should be told upfront about respecting their peers from other cultures.

Jokes that are disrespectful to linguistic groups or other communities should be prohibited. Group activities should be encouraged to help people become familiar with one another.

Do not worry about making mistakes when learning a new language

When people begin speaking a new language, they tend to make mistakes. In fact, all people who have learned new languages will agree with this point. Native speakers of that language will forgive you. They will appreciate the fact that you are making an effort to learn their language. The cliché that ‘practice makes a man perfect’ is apt for people who are learning new languages.

Employees should be urged to know about different cultures

Language is a subsect of a culture. Employees should be encouraged to learn about new cultures. They are, after all, living in a country where they would be working for a portion of their lives.

They will learn the slang of the language local to that place along with its idioms and be persuaded to try local food habits and customs. This will not only help employees improve their career prospects but also help them to be respected in the foreign land. Employees should also be convinced that learning a new language is a fun activity and not a strenuous task.

Employees should be made aware of gestures

What is considered a friendly gesture in one culture may seem disrespectful in another land. Before a group of employees hailing from different cultures start working together, they must be given training on gestures and their effects.

Once it is done, they will slowly start getting used to respecting the cultures of one another.

If you have been dreaming of working overseas, get in touch with Y-Axis, a premier overseas immigration consultancy, to make it come true.


Thousands of professionals approach Y-Axis every year to help them realize their overseas career ambitions. Our suite of services includes:

  • Resume Writing Services: Ensure your resume meets international standards and showcases your strengths
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With Y-Axis, you not only discover opportunities that are best suited for you but also get the tools and experience to help you with the highest chances of success. Talk to us today to begin your journey of working abroad.

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