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Communication for International Business

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Communication for International Business

The Secrets of Excellent Interpersonal Skills


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Business communication can be difficult if you don’t speak the same language – even if you’re both speaking English.

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International communication about buying, selling and negotiating can be tricky; often the message you seek to transmit is not the message your audience receives. This confusion increases exponentially when native English speakers try to communicate with non-native English speakers. Global communication experts Bob Dignen and Ian McMaster explain how to bridge the language gap. The authors present their information in an attractive, compelling package. They show the kind of great information delivery that’s essential to business communication. getAbstract recommends their insights and advice to those who communicate across cultures.


Whose English Language?

In Zurich, Switzerland, HR professional John Simons, a native English speaker, gave a talk to his international HR colleagues. He began, “Well, what I want to get the ball rolling with today is a question. It’s probably not a question we put to ourselves that often but...bear with me for a few seconds, humor me. My question is, why do we actually bother to train leaders in our company? If leaders are born rather than crafted by training, maybe we’re overlooking the obvious...[that] recruitment, not development, is the real solution to our leadership deficiencies. Now, before my L&D colleagues decide to lynch me, let me explain...where I’m coming from...”

When his presentation was complete, Simons asked for questions. None of his international non-native English-speaking colleagues had a query. Instead, they stared at him with apparent hostility. John felt that his presentation was a failure and asked himself, “Does anyone outside our UK and US offices actually speak English?” Of course, they did. But John used idiomatic language – for instance, “get the ball rolling” – that confused his audience. Additionally, he spoke in complex sentences...

About the Authors

Bob Dignen is a director of York Associates, specializing in international competence development. Ian McMaster is chief editor of England’s Business Spotlight magazine.

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