When you look at the differences between monolingual and bilingual people in terms of business success, the case for learning a new language is pretty compelling. It's interesting first to look at a few stats. Citizens of the United States and Canada are monolingual when compared to the rest of the world. Only about 18% of Canadians and Americans can speak two or more languages. The UK comes in at around 25%. Meanwhile, 56% of the rest of Europe is bilingual or multilingual. With this in mind, the UK among has instituted strong initiatives to create a more multilingual workforce. But sadly, this hasn't been a focus of attention in North America. And yet in some ways this gives you an advantage in the US. You have an even better chance of standing out as a bilingual employee or business owner. So let's explore a few reasons why speaking a second language can advance your career and make you more successful in business.
You get a massive leg up in the job hunt.
Because only 18% of North Americans are bilingual, you hold a distinct advantage over 82% of the competition with similar experience to your own. The US Committee on Economic Development (CED) recently did a survey that found that 80% of business leaders believe that their business would be positively impacted by having more internationally competent employees on staff.
You'll have increased rapport.
One of the most beautiful things when you learn a new language is that even before you're fluent you can create great rapport with the native speakers of that language. They see the effort you are putting forth and appreciate the fact that you are attempting communicate with them on their own terms. You are taking them into consideration. This is a great practice that translates directly into the business world. Building rapport is the first step In in building a trusting relationship. When dealing with colleagues or clients, being willing to go the extra mile with regards to communication will naturally encourage those around you to entrust you with going to go the extra mile in all aspects of your business.
You'll (obviously) increase communication.
Along with better rapport, learning another language naturally increases your communication skills in general. There are certain words, idioms, and concepts that don't translate from one language to another. In fact, there are certain words and concepts that simply don't exist in other languages. For example, consider the Russian word Тоска (tas-'ka), which means a deep spiritual sadness for no apparent reason. Russian author, Vladimir Nabakov explained it like this: "No single word in English renders all the shades of 'toska.' At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases, it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level, it grades into ennui, boredom."So, once you gain command of another language, you'll be able to express words and ideas previously unavailable to you. You'll also be able to introduce ideas and concepts specific to your native language to the native speakers of your new language.
You increase your understanding of potential partners, competitors, and markets.
When you learn a language you also pick up on cultural nuances, insights into the way people from that culture actually think. Understanding what makes people tick and being able to think like they do is a huge advantage when doing business. Suddenly you have insights into a whole new marketplace. And armed with these insights, you may better comprehend your international competitor's tactics and start anticipating their moves as well.
It gives you improved decision-making skills.
Learning a new language improves your decision-making process. It has been shown that bilinguals make logical decisions quicker and more rationally than monolinguals. It takes a focused, conscious effort to master a foreign language. Because of this, it is thought that applying all of your faculties on learning the language has direct positive effects on your rationale.
Here's a quick recap the five distinct business success advantages.
Learning a second language gives you an advantage in the job market. It improves your decision-making skills. It allows for better initial rapport with native speakers of the language you learn. It's a given that it increases your international verbal communication skills ... and it gives you unique cultural insights that you can base actionable business decisions on. What's stopping you from getting started learning a new language today?