Problems with Communication in Other Language

Communication and Skills


Hans Havelaar

Problems with Communication in Other Language

Hi there, I'm in a team of 4 with one manager. 3 out of the 4 members plus the manager are French speaking guys. I am the only one non-French speaking, so I use only English. My team members always talk in French, which makes me feel isolated. We communicate in English in 2 situations: during meetings or when they interact with me (low verbal interaction). Also they send me emails in English.
The company official languages are English and French.
Now my questions: did anyone face a similar issue? Any tips on how I can deal with this?


Johan Bergstroem
HR Consultant, Sweden

Language Problems in Communications

It sounds far from an ideal situation. We recently had a Polish man here (in Sweden) that spoke slightly below average Swedish. It's far from same situation, but I really tried to make him feel at home, by explaining most of the quaint jokes and odd bits and things in Swedish, that always comes up during regular coffee breaks and whatnot, so he could relate.
In your situation it is harder though. As I imagine that you speak no French at all. I can also think that because you are one and they are many, it is on their responsibility to make you feel welcome, and not the other way around.
Also in a situation like this, nonverbal communications and gestures becomes more important, care and consideration, asking if you want to join for lunch or coffee.
With unwelcome feelings (brought from language-exclusion) they cannot expect very high results from you, I gather? Also, they really miss out when they let the chance slip them by to meet someone from another country, I learned very much from my now polish friend.

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