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3. Victor, a recent immigrant from eastern Europe, works for a multinational consumer products company. He is bewildered when his managers infer that his expertise as a computer analyst is outweighed by his negative attitude at team meetings.

4. Aria is a top aeronautics engineer from the Middle East, whose written work is full of grammar errors.

5. Yoji, who has just transferred from Japan to work at the Canadian division of his electronics company, is so concerned about making mistakes he rarely speaks at all.

What do all these people have in common? They are all highly skilled professionals whose contribution to their company is compromised by a gap in their cultural and linguistic communication skills. They are in their positions because they have the skills to do the job. And yet, when English is not the native tongue, communication skills can be complicated by cultural and linguistic barriers. Do any of these issues sound familiar?

  • accent makes them difficult to understand, so employees and colleagues don't listen to them
  • cultural differences make them appear either too passive or too aggressive in group discussions
  • limited vocabulary leads to fear of embarrassment and prevents individuals from contributing their expertise
  • difficulty with cultural adaptation leads to a sense of isolation (which leads to the perception that the individual is not a team player)

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