How speaking multiple languages enhances your business

Working internationally, we understand the importance of language in business. As a company that is geared towards engendering long term...

Career Tips
25th October 2018

Working internationally, we understand the importance of language in business. As a company that is geared towards engendering long term partnerships, we see the ability to communicate directly with clients and candidates in their native language as one of the first steps to building, developing and maintaining excellent relationships.

Multilingualism has been shown to have many social, psychological and health advantages, including more rationalised decision making and delayed onset of dementia. Additionally, learning a language provides a skill which, as a candidate, can set you apart from the crowd and offer a business the potential to tap into a new market.

Despite these benefits, research has shown that there is a huge shortage in the number of multilingual speakers in Britain, with the British Council citing that three-quarters of UK adults cannot hold a conversation in a foreign language. Baroness Coussins, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on modern languages (APPG), further identified the impact this is having on the working environment; stating that: “The UK economy is already losing around £50bn a year in lost contracts because of lack of language skills in the workforce.”

At Concilium Search, we find the ability to communicate effectively with our clients and candidates to be essential in our field of work. Our Consultants cover a number of languages, including but not limited to: French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and Russian.

We spoke to some of our Consultants to better understand how speaking multiple languages has positively impacted them in the workplace…

"Being half French I was exposed to the language at an early age and have since tried to use this to my advantage in every aspect of life. Completing a Degree in French and Spanish at the University of Southampton set me up well for life at Concilium, where, in an industry which is becoming increasingly competitive, any small advantage can be key in making an all-important difference.

My ability to speak French has recently enabled me to establish new client relationships in France and help source those clients to French speaking candidates."

David Brown – Senior Consultant, IT Contracts

"I have lived in 8 different countries and am now fluent in English, Danish and Swedish.

I find that being multilingual has helped me to connect with people on a much deeper level. It also makes conversations go a lot smoother where there are words or phrases that can’t be translated from one language to another."

Victor Kirstein – Associate Consultant, Energy Contracts

"I am originally Italian and moved to the UK for university in 2010 and have been here ever since. I was born in Rome but because of my father’s job I was fortunate enough to travel the world and live in various different countries including Italy, Mexico and Brazil and as a result I had the chance to pick up various languages along the way and appreciate different cultures from around the world.

Being fluent in multiple languages, I have had the ability to develop a closer cultural connection with someone who might not normally be fully comfortable speaking in English.

Speaking with Italians in particular, it always helps to know their language. They are incredibly formal because of how the education system is structured in Italy but once you speak to them in Italian and you agree that you will refer to each other in an informal manner, they become much more relaxed and enjoy the fact that they are working internationally in their own language, which will benefit both parties."

Matteo Prestinoni – Junior Partner, Energy Contracts

"Belarussian and Russian are my native languages. As my Grandparents are from Ukrainian and Polish origins I grew up learning these languages also. I started learning English from 9 years old, but on a very basic level. It wasn’t until a few years later that my parents sent me to study in the UK for 1 month to improve my language skills, living with an English-speaking family and taking English classes for 5 hours every day. During my time in the UK I realised that I wanted to relocate here completely and learning the language helped me to far better understand the culture. This is something that I have found can be directly correlated to business, as it helps me to connect with clients and candidates in a much more personal way."

Darya Liudchyk – Associate Consultant, Healthcare Contracts

"I grew up in Germany, so I learnt German as my mother tongue. It is normal for German schools to teach English from an early age, so I had weekly English lessons at school from an age of 10 onwards. However, I didn’t start learning the language properly in an everyday concept until I moved to the UK aged 16 to go to boarding school. Being Fluent in English and German has definitely helped me to build relationships with people and has allowed me to help my colleagues to complete placements by supporting them with any German documents."

Lea Weber – Global Talent Manager

"I find that speaking French and Arabic gives me the ability to create lasting, stable business relationships when communicating with someone in their native language. Also, it’s much easier to communicate and reduces misunderstandings/mistranslations."

Ines Ohnona – Contracts Administration Manager

"In addition to English, I speak Afrikaans and I am an intermediate in a South African dialect called Sepedi. Afrikaans was the first language I ever spoke, and I picked up Sepedi through a mixture of social and educational influences.

Afrikaans has actually been of tremendous benefit when it comes to navigating large parts of the European social landscape. As Afrikaans is of Dutch origin but generally hybridised to incorporate many European-origin languages, I am capable through association of navigating large proportions of Germanic languages (such as Dutch, German and Flemish) making it a lot simpler to follow conversations with clients. The most memorable workplace benefit for me was with a South African client, who had been unsuccessful in reaching payment for a number of weeks. As soon as the recipient answered the call, I picked up the unmistakeable accent and immediately continued negotiations in Afrikaans, which worked wonders with the client.

It has been my experience that people pay you a lot more respect for being capable of, or even attempting to converse in their language."

Richard Holloway – Finance Manager

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