Conducting business in another language brings with it a whole new set of challenges and in the fast growing global market is becoming an essential skill. It is estimated that there are 400 million native English speakers worldwide while a quarter of the world's population can communicate in the English language. The globalisation of business operations and communication technology means that approximately 80% of all interactions using the English language take place between non-native speakers.
While English is still the main business language, other languages are also gaining higher importance in the business world. Chinese, Hindi, Arabic and Portuguese are all major business languages. One study estimated that one if five UK based companies were concerned about losing business due to language barriers.
International business executives and entrepreneurs need to be able to converse in meetings and business negations. You will gain a better business relationship with your clients if you can speak to them personally rather than conducting all your communication through a translator. Often businesses ignore the relevance of languages when selling internationally, however this understanding of language and local culture will help to attract new customers and increase sales.
There are intensive foreign language courses specifically designed for overseas executives. We have even heard of language courses that combine learning to play golf at the same time, which is often seen as an important ability in a corporate setting. Cultural awareness training is also a vital skill, learning about cultural differences will aid you in communicating with people of different nationalities.
There are language communication skills for specific business purposes, for example negotiations and presentations, and specific communications skills dependent on the business sector, such as legal or finance. Being part of the international business community is essential to expanding your company operations, and building cultural bridges through learning language skills is key to a strong global business relationship.