CHAPTER 4Working with People Who Don't Speak English

If you go into a bookstore and scan the titles in the business, relationship or self‐improvement sections, you'll see that “communication” is a key topic. Always. It never goes away. Twenty years ago, books were written about improving communication skills and twenty years from now, there will still be books and articles offering suggestions for better communication. The ongoing popularity of this topic suggests that we all struggle with simply communicating with others, whether it's at work or in our personal relationships.

It's difficult enough to communicate effectively in one language, so imagine the challenges that accompany working with people who don't speak the same language that you do, or don't speak it well. Then mix in all the other challenges and pressures we face at work, such as conflict resolution, different personalities, management expectations and more, and you've got a recipe for disaster stew.

If you work with people who don't speak English, or don't speak English well, you know firsthand what this is like. It's not only difficult, it can be exhausting. It takes more time, energy and focus to communicate with someone who doesn't speak the same language. It can feel burdensome. And it can be stressful, because you may not be sure that you're being fully understood or that you fully understand what the other person is saying.

The restaurant industry has felt the impact of this issue greatly. In the United ...

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