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HR Professionals: The benefits of good English communication skills

Conducting international business means your team must communicate with colleagues and customers from different countries. They must understand what kind of language to use in different situtions. They must also be careful to avoid using language that will negatively affect their relationship with foreign customers and colleagues.

It's possible that they might offend or embarrass an important international customer without knowing it.

Let me give you a simple example of how poor communication skills can upset a foreign colleague.

Mr. White is speaking in a meeting with his colleague from Taiwan, Miss Lee.

Read this short conversation.

Mr. White: “The market is good in Japan and Korea right now, but I think we should

invest in Hong Kong because that market is growing.”

Miss Lee: “I don’t think so! The Hong Kong market isn’t going to grow. If we invest in

Hong Kong, we’ll lose a lot of money!”

Miss Lee is actually a little rude here. Saying, "I don't think so!" so directly is rude and will upset Mr. White. "The Hong Kong market isn't going to grow", she is saying directly that Mr. White is wrong. And when she directly says, "we'll lose a lot of money!", she is suggesting Mr. White doesn't know what he's doing and he will lose the company money.

Basically, she is much too direct. In international business, it's important to be positive and not to be too direct.

Let's look at how she could have dealt with this conversation.

Miss Lee: “I understand your point, but I have a slightly different viewpoint. To be

honest, I’m not sure the Hong Kong market will grow. I also think we might

lose money if we invest in Hong Kong.”

This is much more professional. Miss Lee shows that she understands Mr. White's point and says she doesn't agree. But she uses very polite language, "I have a slightly different viewpoint." Then, she says, "I'm not sure the Hong Kong market will grow." This is much better than saying "it isn't going to grow". She also says, she "thinks we might lose money", which is much less direct than "we'll lose money."

This is an example of using excellent business communication in a business conversation. If your team communicate with international colleagues, they must understand how to use this kind of language.


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