Understanding verbal communication in a team?

Subject: Understanding verbal communication in a team?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 16 Aug 2002 13:25:21 -0400

John Posada reports: <<Of the team... I am the only one who speaks English
as my primary language... The problem is that... one of them has such a
strong accent that less than 10% can be understood even with dedicated
effort. The manager is aware of this problem, and in the long term, may be a
problem for the SME. However, until then, it is a problem for me and if I
can work out how to better communicate him, it may eliminate some of the
problem for him too.>>

Communicating in writing or via another person who can "translate" are two
good approaches, but not always efficient. Correcting the problem at the
source is usually best, and in this case, both you and the person with the
accent are "the source". I encountered precisely the problem you're dealing
with after returning to a bilingual (English/Quebec French) workplace after
working in a unilingual environment for roughly 15 years. Having relatively
poor hearing, I found it very difficult at first to reacquire my "ear" for
Quebec French. Time and patience worked wonders; my French authors got
better at their English from working with me, and I got better at
understanding their French. Hopefully you can reach a similar understanding
with your colleagues.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
Hofstadter's Law--"The time and effort required to complete a project are
always more than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's

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