How to Break Language Barrier in a Virtual Environment
As your company grows and more opportunities present themselves, you will meet business professionals from diverse cultures and languages. However, it's not always the worker's duty to effortlessly integrate into the workplace.
If you are looking to create a positive workplace, you as the business owner must make an effort to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers. Which brings the question, how to break language barrier in a virtual environment?
Here are some basic but helpful cultural initiatives that can break down barriers within your team:
Speak slowly and clearly
It’s important to use clear enunciation and speak slowly. Even if you're pressed for time, don't rush through your communication as it will only affect the clarity of your words and the message that you want to convey. Time may be gold, but clarity is KEY. Getting your message across clearly without causing confusion or offense will save you time and money in the long run.
Politely ask for clarification
If you are not 100% sure you've understood what your virtual assistant communicated, feel free to politely ask for clarification. By doing so, you can prevent misunderstandings among the members of your team and the people involved in a particular project.
By clarifying everyone’s expectations and roles, you’ll help build greater trust and increase productivity among the team. The more you ask and listen, the better you become at understanding each other's needs.
Make use of meeting minutes
A lot happens during team meetings, where you may potentially share ideas, build business plans, and decide where to go next. This is why meeting minutes will serve as a road map for your team.
Have your virtual assistant follow up on virtual meetings with emails that summarize the topics covered as well as the designated duties. From there, you will be able to assess whether your team is on the same page or if anything needs further explanation.
Choose your medium
Carefully choose your line of communication (video conference, email exchange, instant messaging app, etc.). While email is one of the best ways to exchange information, we recommend making use of instant messaging apps for a faster turnaround if the goal is to follow through or check in with your virtual team members.
Additionally, you may have your virtual assistants log in to a Zoom meeting room to allow you to monitor them in their workplace. Think of it as a sort of virtual office where you can collaborate in real-time, especially for time-sensitive projects.
Avoid idioms and slang words
Most Filipinos speak English as their second language, considering it is taught in schools from primary to university and is mainly used in the corporate world. However, when working with an offshore virtual assistant, it is important to use more standard English and steer clear of idioms or slang that may not be understood in other parts of the world. If you and your virtual assistant choose different meanings for the same word, it will most likely cause a semantic barrier. This may result in unclear or distorted messages that create a negative impression.
Remember, a single word might mean different things to several people. This is why it is important to choose your words carefully in order to close gaps, build a positive working relationship, and create effective collaboration within your team, especially at the start of the working relationship.
Related read - Delegating Tasks to Your Virtual Assistant
Educate yourself on Cultural Diversity
It is important to keep in mind that each nationality has its own culture. Employees from the Philippines, for example, have distinct cultural characteristics that influence how they work, behave, and interact.
Because they place a high value on understanding hierarchy and position, Filipino Virtual Assistants will address you as Ma'am or Sir rather than by your first name, as is standard practice in Western cultures. Furthermore, most Filipinos prefer to interact in environments where they can collaborate effectively and efficiently whereas other cultures prefer an individualist workplace environment.
This is why it is important to introduce yourself, share the purpose of your business, and define your preferred management style. This will allow your virtual assistant to feel comfortable expressing themselves as well. By understanding your virtual team members' cultural backgrounds and diversity, you can reduce the risk of cultural mismatch.
Working with a virtual assistant requires more effort in communication so you'll need the best virtual assistant services to help overcome these hurdles. At Pineapple, we match you with business professionals who not only have the necessary work experience but also have the knowledge and demeanour to work well with your team and management style.