This Guest paper was submitted for publication in December 2020.
It is copyright to Frank Hamilton.
Published here January 2021.

Introduction | Communication and Language Barrier Challenges 
Cultural Differences | Time Zones & Religious Holidays
Using Appropriate Collaboration Tools | In Conclusion

Communication and Language Barrier Challenges

Communication Challenge

It is possible to be proficient in a language yet not able to communicate well in that language. Often there are non-verbal cues and cultural differences that are important for effective communication. Language cultures in some countries allow for more direct communication without euphemisms.

An example of such a language culture is among Germans. They give feedback without any need to sugarcoat their words. However, in American culture, such a direct approach may be considered quite rude. In America it is common to offer feedback/criticism only indirectly.

The German approach is not better or more effective than the American approach. They are simply different cultural approaches to communication. Hence, project managers must remain aware of these differences and communicate accordingly to be effective.

Apart from understanding language cultures, project managers must also be emotionally conscious. There are soft skills project managers must have to communicate with team members. These include:

  • Listening skills;
  • Sensibility to identifying unspoken concerns of team members;
  • Clear communications i.e., especially by answering questions clearly and in a way that all members of the team can understand.

Language Barrier Challenge

To manage an international project, consider the language used by the majority of team members. Even though English is the lingua Franca of many countries, there will be complex issues that some team members using English as a second language will find difficulty in discussion.

You can solve this by finding a common language among your team members. Alternatively, you can arrange for teams to be assembled from those who use similar languages. For example, Mexicans, Argentinians and Equatorial Guineans all use English and Spanish. It would be productive to keep them in one group since they share similar languages. After creating this group, this team should be capable of handling tasks using the agile project delivery methodology, for example.

Introduction   Introduction

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