During the second week of studying “Working effectively with others”, life in Vancouver is not slow any more. We learned how to encourage our team this week. We also learned about how rumours spread and we discussed how to solve problems caused by cultural differences.
Max says: ‘Life in the program can definitely feel fast. We cover a lot of material in a short period of time.
How can we encourage each other in the workplace? When team members or colleagues do amazing work on challenging projects how can we encourage them? We learned a variety of ways to say good job:
You should proud be of yourself.
I like your work.
How do you encourage your team members?
It’s amazing how far a few words of encouragement can go. We all need to know that we’re doing a good job, whether that means hearing it from someone else or having it recognized in writing. Your teachers at Greystone are always striving to give you encouraging feedback and they aim to foster an environment where you will support and encourage your classmates. Knowing how to motivate and encourage others is an essential skill for managers and leaders.
‘We did an activity to encourage classmate using all the words that our instructor gave us. If you want to see more, click the link, that gives you some encouraging sentences that Carlos and I researched on the web.”
Yes, it’s important not to just know how to encourage someone but also to put it into practice. Since we all communicate differently, what can seem like words of encouragement and support to one person might be interpreted as criticism by another.
We communicate with each other in so many different kinds of work situations. Communication is really important in any kind of industry. If we fail in communicating then we would have so many problems. So, how can we communicate effectively? Choosing the right place and time is really important for effective communication. We also need to choose the right form. Sometimes written commutation is better than verbal.
All of our classes place a lot of emphasis on effective communication as many employers highly value this skill. There are also so many aspects to effective communication, many of which, such as choosing the best form, are often overlooked.
Max continues: ‘We did an information transfer activity on Monday morning; one team had two members. One person had to read an article and remember it and then tell their teammate who would write down all the words that he or she heard. Cut to the chase, it was really difficult. It was okay to transfer short sentences or words but summarizing the article was difficult especially in a short time. We discussed the problems we encountered in the activity later. Pronunciation was a big one. Each one of us has our own accent from our mother tongue. Writing was hard as well.’
It’s a challenge to communicate in one’s own first language, never mind in a second language with others who have a variety of different first languages; however this is the reality of modern business world, which is increasingly global. Effective communication means recognizing and overcoming language and cultural barriers.
We learned how to work when we start a new job. There are many ways to learn as a new employee such as getting training, self-study, and work with colleagues. Some ways include:
- Buddy system
- Action learning set
- Job rotation
- Job shadowing
When first starting a job, there is a lot to learn and it can be overwhelming. Often, new employees are reluctant to admit that they don’t know how to do something. But if you ignore your weaknesses or areas where you lack knowledge, you’ll never improve. The best employees are constantly expanding their skills; they seek help from whatever source they can.
‘73% of Canadian would describe their workplace as diverse and one in thirteen Canadians say their first language is not English. Canada has such a multicultural society.’
If you are planning to work in Canada, it’s important to be comfortable with diversity. You will likely be working with people from a variety of backgrounds and with a range of English. The courses in the diploma program aim to give you the tools to communicate effectively across cultures.
‘Gossip is talking about the behavior and personal lives of other people and it is normally negative. Gossip has a negative effect on workplaces. So, we did an activity that explored how a story can change in the telling. After, we checked out how the original story had changed.’
Absolutely. As much as it’s essential to communicate in the workplace, it’s important to choose what we communicate about. Not everything is appropriate or necessary workplace communication.
Max continues: ‘Thursday’s class was about “Similarities and differences in culture”’
Culture can affect:
◆ Where you live and with who
◆ Who made your breakfast today
◆ How you ask to speak to someone on the telephone
◆ How you express anger
◆ How you apologize
‘We have so many similarities and differences in nationality, religion, and cultural background even though we live on the same planet. For instance, Taiwanese don’t bow to greet each other even though Taiwan is in Asia. Canadians like to make eye contact when they communicate or greet each other but this is not the case in Korea. As international students, we have many experiences with cultural differences.
When I came to Canada for the first time, I was surprised that I had to go to a liquor shop to buy beer. Also paying tips in restaurants and bars was new to me as well.’
Coming to a new country to study means you learn so much not just about the language but also about the culture. Your classmates will be from all over the world so you will have a unique opportunity to learn about their cultures as well. We hope the program is a cultural exchange as much as anything.
Then how can we understand each other better if we are from different cultures? Below, there are several tips that might help us:
Admit that you don’t know.
Systematically check your assumptions.
Become comfortable with ambiguity.
‘The Diploma in Customer Service Co-op program at Greystone College is very useful. In it, I can learn and practice. It combines knowledge with practical activities such activities such as role-plays. I think the classes really promote deeper understanding.
I will be back next week with a better story. Good bye!’