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Meetings auf Englisch - Multinationale Teamarbeit Teil 1

Schlagwörter: Meeting auf Englisch, Meetings auf Englisch, Englisch Meeting, Konferenz auf Englisch, Englisch Konferenz, Besprechung auf Englisch, Englisch Besprechung, Meinung Englisch, Meinung äußern Englisch, sich äußern Englisch, Vorschlag Englisch, Vorschläge Englisch, Multinationale Teamarbeit

One of the most valuable benefits of globalisation to date has been the internationalisation of the workplace. Not only diversity in one office location, but diversity in virtual teams working together across the globe in virtual, online spaces. Diversity not only brings new ideas from people coming from different cultures, but the interaction of people from different cultures can lead in increased productivity that would never have been possible before.

Along with the benefits, however, diversity brings with it a huge set of problems. Language is only one of them. Cultural differences with respect to management behaviour, political behaviour and even politeness can ruffle feathers and impede progress. Management’s goal is to help international teams work together to maximise the benefits while at the same time minimise the problems. How well a company does this contributes directly to its competitive ability. Some companies – especially large, multi-national corporations – have learned how to do this quite well.
If you’ve never participated on an international team or have had little experience doing so, chances are that every encounter makes you nervous. This month we start a two-part series that examines some of the most important issues in this area.

Most of the people you’ll meet in the course of business will have names you’re familiar with, but if your team is truly international, chances are some of your colleagues will have names that are unrecognisable. Both first and last names can be problematic, and even the order of the first and last name can be an issue. In some Asian cultures, for example in China, a person’s last name is placed before the first.
Not just on the telephone, but even when meeting people with difficult names in person, it’s easy to miss an important nuance in pronunciation. Don’t let it slide. Using a friendly tone, make sure you understand and can pronounce the name before moving on.

I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get your first name. Could you repeat it for me?
What an interesting last name. How do you spell that?

Getting the form of address correct is also important. Always refer to the other person as he has introduced himself. So if he has said his name is Dr Shanmugam Manjunath, you have a decision to make. If you will be working with him regularly, make sure you know both names. If this is a one-time contact, make sure you understand and can pronounce the last name. Chances are the correct form is Dr Manjunath.

Keep in mind the language barrier
Anyone speaking a second language, even if he’s relatively fluent, will still not be able to express everything he wishes with the accuracy of a native speaker. Those less fluent tend to speak using a simplified version of the language that expresses all of the important major concepts but leaves out a lot of detail. Those who still feel insecure with their English skills may say little. Unfortunately a person’s language skills can have little to do with his importance to the team or his ability to contribute.
This means part of every discussion needs to assume that there are important points, details or opinions that may not be being expressed. During any such meeting, this possibility has to be fully explored before decisions are made. Otherwise decisions might be based on incomplete or inaccurate data.
You can explore this situation using questions addressing the group and individual participants, but what you must keep in mind is that in many cultures, it’s considered impolite to disagree with the majority opinion or with the opinion of a superior. This means your exploratory questions must try to get people to talk even when they otherwise wouldn’t.

I haven’t heard much that would lead us to consider other options. In fact, everyone seems to have the same opinion. While this is a good situation to have, I do think it’s unusual and I don’t want to leave any stones unturned. Does anyone have any information to add or any thoughts to offer on this subject that differ from the majority opinion?

At this point I’d like to say that although X is my opinion, I don’t feel certain that it’s the right decision. Since this issue is extremely important to the company, I have to rely on this team to express any and every doubt. I’d like to invite each of you at this time to tell me about any thoughts or doubts you have been having that may disagree with our current line of thinking.

Dr Manjunath, we have not heard much from you during the meeting. Everyone here finds your opinion extremely valuable, especially me, and I don’t feel comfortable without having your input. Could you please let us know your thoughts on this issue?

The polite yes
In some cultures – especially some Asian cultures – it is impolite to say no. That sounds nice, but in a business meeting the result can be disastrous. Let’s say you ask such a person to take on a rather large task. Will he do it? The answer will be yes. Can he do it? Does he have the time to do it? He won’t say. He’ll just say yes, because saying no would be impolite.

International communication thus requires you to ask specific questions. To make sure yes really means yes. The best way to do this is to rephrase questions so that they are not yes/no questions:

Toshiko, it would be very helpful if you took on the task of assembling the information we need to get started, but this would certainly impact your other work. Can you tell me what delays doing this might have on your other work?

Next month we’ll take a look at getting people to work together and helping to avoid offense and confrontation.

Schlagwörter: Meeting auf Englisch, Meetings auf Englisch, Englisch Meeting, Konferenz auf Englisch, Englisch Konferenz, Besprechung auf Englisch, Englisch Besprechung, Meinung Englisch, Meinung äußern Englisch, sich äußern Englisch, Vorschlag Englisch, Vorschläge Englisch, Multinationale Teamarbeit

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