English may be today’s global workplace language, but non-native and native English speakers use English differently without realizing it. This often leads to a sense that communication has occurred—only to discover later that it was an illusion. Poor organizational effectiveness, productivity, collaboration and employee engagement can be attributed to miscommunication. George Bernard Shaw once said that "the greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished". In today’s globally-diverse workplace, even when we are all speaking the same language, miscommunication happens naturally through cultural presumptions, accents, perceived tone and style, and language proficiency—often preventing the message from being received.
The role of English has never been more important to increasing collaboration among colleagues and other stakeholders, improving customer satisfaction, strengthening employee engagement, and fostering sustainable organizational growth. Substantial research demonstrates the influence of English proficiency differences in workplace contexts, as presented by Educational Testing Service (ETS) in this brief documentary, "Why English Matters".
Every organization must leverage talents, expertise, creativity, resources, and contacts from multiple geographical areas, multiple cultures, and multiple languages. The convergence of native and non-native English speakers in workplace contexts has created new demands on global operations and people management. These challenges are unexpected because their root causes involve such convergence but are mostly unrecognized.
The convergence of native and non-native English speakers in workplace contexts creates new demands on global operations and people management. To leverage talents, expertise, creativity, resources, and contacts from multiple geographical areas, cultures and languages, organizations will need to ameliorate communication and collaboration challenges.
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