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07 July 2022

The Importance of Accent in Business Communication

In the globalised business world, the importance of effective communication cannot be understated. One of the most important aspects of communication is accent. A person’s accent can be a major barrier to communication, or it can enhance it.

There are many reasons why having a good command of the language you’re speaking is important in business. Read the rest of our insightful guide to discover them.

The Importance of Accent in Communication

The way we speak is shaped by our experiences, where we grew up and the people we interact with on a daily basis. All of these factors play a role in how we develop our accents. 

Accents affect communication in numerous ways. When learning a second or third language, your native accent is likely to show through even when your native language isn’t being spoken, which can create a communication barrier without the right training.

Native speakers tend to have an easier time understanding each other, even when their accents are different. This is because they share common linguistic features that make communication between them more efficient.

For non-native speakers, however, different accents can be a source of confusion and frustration. Miscommunication can lead to costly errors, missed opportunities, and strained relationships. It’s also important to recognise that you can categorise accents by country, region and even more local areas. 

For example, a British accent will also encompass different regional accents, as accents reflect the speaker’s specific social and geographical background. In Britain alone there are over 50 regional dialects, highlighting the importance of accent when it comes to communication.

How do Accents Affect Communication in Business?

There are many different ways in which accents can affect communication in business. Let’s explore some of the most common ones:

Difficulty understanding each other

Globalisation has undoubtedly changed the way we do business. In today’s world, businesses are no longer confined to their country of origin but have the opportunity to operate on a global scale. This has led to an increase in the number of international business deals and transactions taking place.

 

Misunderstandings are perhaps the most obvious way in which accents can affect communication. If your international partners, colleagues or customers struggle to understand your accent, they’re likely to miss important bits of information or become frustrated.

Another common issue is that people from different regions may pronounce specific words or sounds differently. This can lead to misunderstanding and confusion, especially if the word being mispronounced is an important one. This can often occur when speaking a second language without having received pronunciation training.

The impact of this on business processes is clear. With miscommunication comes the risk of costly mistakes, delays and frustration on both sides.

Strong accent differences

Strong clashing accent differences can be a barrier to effective business communication, even between two regions that speak the same native language. This is because the brain relies on cues from a person’s voice, facial expressions and body language to help it process what is being said.

If there are big differences in accents, these visual cues can be harder to interpret, leading to more miscommunication. This is why a cross-cultural understanding is also vital for effective communication in business. Cross-cultural misunderstanding can often be the root cause of communication breakdowns between colleagues or customers from different regions.

Regional accents and dialects

Even if you’re accustomed to a country’s standard accent, if you’re not used to hearing a specific accent, it can be difficult to understand. This is often the case with regional accents, as they can be very different from the standard accent. A strong regional accent can cause communication problems in business for a variety of reasons.

Different regions have different dialects and slang words. This can again lead to misunderstanding and frustration, as people may not be familiar with the words being used. As such, everyday life activities and job performance can be impacted when employees can’t understand each other or don’t have a common ground in dialect.

Ensuring that your team has a good understanding of key business expressions can provide a common ground to help employees from different cultures or countries understand each other and stay on the same page.

Stereotypes and prejudices

Unfortunately, there are often stereotypes and prejudices associated with different accents. This can lead to people making assumptions about others, which can be harmful and offensive, especially in a professional setting.

Not only are foreign accents often a sign that someone has learned a new language, an educational advancement that not everyone has the courage to undergo, but they are also a sign of diversity. A workplace with employees from all over the world can be hugely beneficial for a company, as it brings in new perspectives, ideas and skills.

Differing expectations

People from different cultures often have different expectations when it comes to communication. This can lead to misunderstandings, as people may not be used to the way others communicate.

This is why it’s important to be aware of cultural differences and norms when communicating with people from other cultures. Failure to do so can lead to miscommunication and even conflict or missed opportunities.

What is Accent Training?

Accent and pronunciation training is designed to help people improve their verbal communication skills in a second language. The aim is to make it easier for others to understand them and to help them sound more like a native speaker by improving their accent.

This can be especially useful in the professional environment, or when hiring internationally.  For example, if your team can speak English and have good communication skills but struggle with the English accent, accent training can help.

This type of training is designed to help people learn how to speak with a more standard or neutral accent. It can be extremely beneficial for businesses, as it can help improve communication, improve accent reduction and reduce misunderstandings. 

As different accents will be more appropriate for different language learners and business objectives,  it’s important to choose the right type of training for your needs.

What are the benefits of accent training?

There are many benefits of accent training, both for individuals and businesses. For individuals, it can help them to feel more confident when speaking a second language and can improve their communication skills. It can also help them to feel more included in workplace conversations and to feel like they are part of the team.

For businesses, accent training can help to improve communication between employees, customers and clients. It can also help to build a more diverse and inclusive workplace, as well as improve customer service. 

A language learner makes great strides if they can become proficient in a second language, but without understanding the nuances of how that language is spoken, the learning process can be hindered.

Looking For Expert Accent or Cross-Cultural Training?

At SIMON & SIMON, we offer a range of language training services, including pronunciation and accent training, cross-cultural training and professional business language training. We have a team of experienced and qualified trainers who can tailor a training programme to your specific business needs.

With our blended and flexible approach to language learning, we can offer your team an expert training that is convenient and affordable. 

Contact us today to find out more!

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The Importance of Accent in Business Communication | SIMON & SIMON
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The Importance of Accent in Business Communication | SIMON & SIMON
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Looking to understand the true importance of accent in business communication? Don’t miss out. Read our guide today.
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Simon and Simon International
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