By Ed Rosheim

This Valentine’s Day, we’re all about the KISS – as in Keep it Super Simple. To improve communication, you have to achieve a delicate balance. You need to give enough detail to get your point across without overwhelming the person you’re talking to with too much information. This is especially true when you’re talking with employees who speak English as a second language.

Go Grammar-less to Improve Communication

When communicating in a different language, you don’t have to be perfect. Simplicity takes all the intimidation out of speaking a new language. It’s like those Valentine’s Day candy hearts with messages like “Call me” or “Be mine.” There’s no room for complex sentence structure on that little piece of candy, and that’s okay – you often don’t need a lot of words to tell someone how you feel. In language training, we call this concept “going grammar-less.” Grammar-less language learning focuses on basic phrases to improve workplace communication and productivity.

Quality Over Quantity

What it lacks in nuance, the grammar-less approach makes up for in relevancy. To improve communication with Spanish-speaking staff members, vendors, and customers, for example, meet them halfway. Learn some key phrases in Spanish, like these:

English Spanish Pronunciation
Welcome! ¡Bienvenidos! (bee-en-vay-nee-dos)
I’m sorry Lo siento (low / see-en-toe)
Good idea Buena idea (bway-nah / ee-day-uh)
Come in Pase (pah-say)

Communication Made Simple

When you’re able to speak to your Latino employees in their native language, they’ll see your commitment to improve communication. In most cases, they want to learn more English, and sometimes just need some tools and encouragement from you. Look for English training programs that start with simple phrases specific to your industry and move on from there.

Ed Rosheim, M.A., is President of Workplace Languages, a company that specializes in corporate language training, translations and the creation of industry-specific bilingual training products. Ed has been working with organizations for 15 years to improve workplace communication. He is the author of Workplace English, a program to help Spanish speaking hospitality employees learn English and improve communication.