Language and its use is the first communication matter between people who meet each other.

We use a language to express ourselves and to give messages; it represents our cultural background and tells everybody how we use the words. Through words and gestuality we communicate our own culture background and origin.

In this context, Diversity is the ideology of including people of diverse cultural backgrounds, encouraging tolerance but also stressing cultural differences and might represent a leverage to distinguish ourselves on the daily competition.

We are born “in” our language

Language is one of the first and the most important way in which each one of us comes into contact with others. Our very early linguistic experiences shape our perceptions throughout our life. Even if we acquire and use several languages, each of us is indelibly associated with our own personal memories, as well as with the growth of our own knowledge, understanding and ability to communicate. Language is a private matter but at the same time it is also a very public matter. We normally acquire and use at least one international language.

The question is: stated that English is a “global” language, shall we use the way in which we communicate as a competitive tool? May we discriminate others or be discriminated if we do not use it in a proper way?

Own Language and English language

Giving a general outlook, English today is considered as the international lingua franca and, to some estimates, is spoken (at various levels of Competence) by more than 2.500 million people around the globe, including native speakers (over 400 million) and those who learn it as a second or foreign language. This dominance has been further reinforced by the worldwide web, as Internet rapidly planted its roots in all fields of human life in the latter part of the 20th century. This means that, as Internet has become a necessity if We are to keep up with the times, it has consequently become imperative to read, write and speak English.

From a grammatical point of view, English is simple by comparison with other languages; the system of verbal tenses is rudimentary; as soon as we come to the field of idiomatic expressions, phrasal verbs and newly-coined words, we meet the real difficulties. Language can be used in different ways and allows speakers to express infinite nuances of meaning. English possesses a vast and ever-changing lexicon that requires even a native speaker to constantly update her or his mental dictionary.

In fact English is commonly used by everyone or in business occasion either for general communication. At the same time each of us preserves the use of our own language. English, even if using the same Words and expressions, is used differently among people of different cultures and education; we can easily assert that it is also the most malleable language, which lends itself well to infinite adaptations to meet the particular needs of different communities. Sometimes we can have trouble with accents and fluency, differing attitudes toward hierarchy and authority when talking or writing and conflicting norms for decision making.

We just simply see that phenomenon when organizing international conferences, webinars, or training sessions.

Everybody thinks to express its own ideas just using the common English language but the first Diversity issues arise around a meeting table. To understand it might represent a success driver.

Some examples will clarify the matter:

Communication in Western cultures is typically direct and explicit. The meaning is on the surface, and a listener doesn’t have to know much about the context or the speaker to interpret it. This is not true in many other cultures, where meaning is embedded in the way the message is presented.

Western negotiators get crucial information about the other party’s preferences and priorities by asking direct questions, such as “Do you prefer option A or option B?” In cultures that use indirect communication, negotiators may have to infer preferences and priorities from changes (or the lack of them) in the other party’s settlement proposal.

In Middle East Countries, before any negotiation, we are normally asked to seat and have a cup of tea and wait for a while talking about general matters, even about family, before starting the business meeting.

Another case is the difference between direct and indirect communication. The differences between direct and indirect communication can cause sometimes serious damage to relationships when team projects run into problems.

Once I read about one American manager (the company was American/Japanese) who discovered that several flaws in her company system would significantly disrupt company operations. She thought to write an e-mail to her American boss and the Japanese team members. Her boss appreciated the direct warnings; her Japanese colleagues were embarrassed, because she had violated their norms for uncovering and discussing problems. Their reaction was to provide her with less access to the people and information she needed to monitor progress. They would probably have responded better if she had pointed out the problems indirectly. For example by asking them what would happen if a certain part of the system was not functioning properly, even though she knew full well that it was malfunctioning and also what the implications were.


At this point, trying to give an answer to the question above (that is: shall we use the way in which we communicate as a competitive tool? May we discriminate others or be discriminated?), a suitable one should be: we have to be aware of the importance of the use of our words versus people we meet daily, without imposing simple-culture-based approaches but driving the key of our success also through the language we use.

After this short ground of reflection, we should agree with the following sentence: “Language is not an ornament” the Iceland writer Andri Snaer Magnason reminded during one talk of linguistic “but primarily a basis for communication, a channel for memories, experience and values”.

And more, according to the German philosopher Herder, a language is rooted in the soil, it is a spirit of a people (Volkgeist). The Italian philosopher Massimo Cacciari is not far from this assumption in his last book “La mente inquieta”.

How, then, can this spirit be maintained in the multifaceted worldwide communicative milieu? Is English becoming a language without a culture because entering in it so many different cultures? How should we maintain important associations between the language and cultural identity once the language becomes an instrument of global communication? How is it now in a pandemic situation where people only talk at distance?

They are still opened questions which might let us think about. They are also questions which call us to take seriously into account the importance of a correct communication to get the right Way to succeed.