There’s a theory that the biggest challenge with hiring non-native English speakers is communication. Managers fear misinterpretations and missed cultural cues that could bring tension with other employees.
Workplace communication is surely one of the obstacles faced by non-native English speakers. But, there’s also a unique communication advantage for hiring these employees. They could possibly be your best representatives during international consultations with other non-native English speakers.
Businesses have noticed an odd phenomenon. Non-native English speakers have a more difficult time understanding native English speakers than they do each other. This phenomenon doesn’t only happen in-person but through email and over the phone as well.
The issue? Native English speakers just aren’t very clear.
Studies have shown that non-native English speakers are precise and purposeful when they speak. If someone learns English at a technical level (via vocabulary and grammar) they will talk in a technical way that is understandable to other folks who learned “textbook” English.
Therefore, in reality, you may be better off letting your non-native English speaking employee go on that international business trip to make sure she or he can speak clearly with their counterpart.
Non-native English speakers understand the whole notion of a prototype. This is due to their experiences, connecting ideas about their capabilities with who they are as a multi-facet professional and person. This lets them work from a prototype point of view rather than a stereotypical one when they take part in international negotiations.
Is this to say that each non-native English speaker you hire will be a great negotiator? No. Negotiation is a skill set, and negotiators must know how to create rapport, compromise strategically, and form trust. But in an international landscape, a non-native English speaker who also possesses these negotiation skills gives businesses a unique advantage.