Developing strong workplace communication skills and gaining an understanding of Canadian workplace culture can seem like a daunting task for newcomers to Canada. However, taking the time to learn and enhance these skills can increase confidence, help to build strong working relationships, and lead to successful employment or advancement opportunities.
Understand Canadian Workplace Culture
Canadian workplace culture emphasizes the importance of fostering relationships with colleagues and managers in the workplace. Building these relationships and connecting with other professionals is highly influenced by your ability to communicate effectively. In Canada, introductions and first impressions are extremely important and can influence how you are treated and viewed in the workplace. Enhancing conversation skills and improving English pronunciation are the first steps in making a good first impression and can help to build valuable business relationships.
Developing Workplace Communication Skills
Enhancing conversational and business language skills takes practice. For conversation skills, collaborating with others to improve pronunciation and social skills can be very beneficial. Practising for real life situations with others and receiving feedback can build confidence in the ability to communicate effectively and in a culturally appropriate way. Listening, responding and paying close attention to body language can enhance your ability to make small talk, an important skill to have when starting to build workplace relationships.
In Canadian culture, social skills are often considered more important than your ability to speak perfect English. It is the art of small talk that will enhance your communication skills and help you form great relationships. Starting with light topics such as hobbies or interests can help you to find common ground from which to build a relationship. Using humour and having a smile is always encouraged. These techniques are usually well received and tend to be more effective when building relationships than a stern or hard approach.
A good first impression can influence how you are perceived and treated in the workplace and your body language plays a vital role. Non-verbal behaviour is highly tied to culture and can greatly influence first impressions. An introduction is as much about WHAT is said as HOW it is said.
Tips on making a good first impression through conversation:
Be the first to say “hello”. If you're not sure the other person will remember you, offer your name to ease the pressure. Make an extra effort to remember names and use them throughout your conversation.
Make eye contact. It can be tricky to make eye contact if you are shy or nervous but eye contact will help build trust and engage your audience. Stay focused on the other person by actively listening and giving feedback. Never glance around the room while they are talking to you. Try to listen more than you talk.
Offer a firm handshake. A handshake is a professional and customary way to introduce yourself to another individual. Your handshake should convey confidence and show your pleasant personality.
Have a warm smile. A warm smile can be a powerful expression. A smile shows you are friendly and can create a more comfortable environment to start communicating.
Have confident body language. People who look uncomfortable make others uncomfortable. Act confident and comfortable, even when you're not.
Have a few exit lines ready. It’s important to notice when others want to end the conversation. If you have a few exit lines ready you can gracefully end the conversation and leave a good impression.