Learning British UK Accent (RP): Global Trends: Focusing the Lens of Communication Training

Global Trends: Focusing the Lens of Communication Training

Accent Reduction Blog | Accent Neutralization Blog

If I were ‘fluent’ in a foreign language, most people would take it to mean that I’d mastered the  grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, and pronunciation rules of that language.   I’d like to suggest another aspect of language proficiency that isn’t typically included, one that deals with the relationship between language and culture.  Linguists call this often neglected, but absolutely essential, part of speech, ‘phatic’ communication.  This is the area of discourse that has nothing to do with requesting information (interrogatives), or telling someone what to do (imperatives), or giving new information (declaratives).  ‘Phatic’ communication falls into a more elusive category…the realm of using language to build, maintain, and negotiate relationships.  Expressions like “thank you,” “I’m sorry,” “you’re welcome,” and “please” are all examples of ‘phatic’ communication.

In our multicultural workforce, sometimes the intent of our message gets lost in translation.  For example, when we use idiomatic expressions that mean, “you’re welcome,” we may lose the sense of gratitude.  “You’re welcome” sounds sincere and appreciative.  Can’t you just feel the sincerity in the phrase?  Yet other phatic expressions – “don’t worry about it,” “not a problem,” “no big deal,” “just trying to be helpful,” “it was nothing” –hardly do justice to a good ol’ fashioned “you’re welcome.”

The American workforce, with its international supply chain, is becoming more and more diverse. Corporate training now reflects an unprecedented focus on communication training programs.  And language skills are now rightly viewed as being either “enablers” or “disablers.”  Language can facilitate collaboration and innovation, or isolation and stagnation.  

We know that the top Fortune 100 companies are also the organizations with the strongest diversity and inclusion programs.  My goal is to help companies leverage the connection between language and culture to increase productivity, mind-share, and the bottom line.  One way we do this is to provide communication training programs that get people thinking about word choice.  When we speak, what do we convey in addition to basic information?  What is the message behind the message?  Is it ‘you’re welcome’ or ‘no problem’?  To a non-native English speaker, the phrases may suggest two very different sentiments.  Practice English, whether it’s your first language or second, using ‘phatic’ speech that conveys the very best of your intentions.  Use language to create bridges of communication. 

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