Communication Killers

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Communication Killers

So, you want to secure professional employment or advance your career in Australia…

Which one of the following is your communication killer?


The phone call

Often the first phase of the interview process and used as a screening device to weed out those with a level of English not quite there for a professional environment. Or, if you already have a job, do you dread making that phone call to a client or the manager of another department? Do you continually ask people to repeat themselves, or do you finish the conversation wondering whether you’ve missed something crucial? Do people have trouble understanding you on the phone?


Your voicemail message

Does your message sound like this?

5 rings. You’ve called the number of … [five second delay] … RajPlease leave a message after the tone. Using a pre-recorded Telstra message is not very personal, and the gap left for you to record your name sounds clumsy and unprofessional. Or perhaps you’ve recorded your own message. Have you listened to it? Is what you would expect from a professional?


Your emails

Do you overuse the word ‘please’ in your emails, thinking that it sounds polite? Do you know how to use indirect language to sound polite and assertive? Can you detect irony and sarcasm in the emails you receive? Are you self-conscious about your English grammar issues or confused about the level of formality required for different recipients?


Report Writing

For most professionals, in order to reach managerial level, you will need excellent writing skills. Is your inability to produce high quality reports for internal or external audiences holding you back?


Your elevator pitch

You will at some stage come across the question, ‘So what do you do?’ expressed in various ways. Are you able to articulate succinctly what you have done that is relevant to the role and the company? A common piece of feedback from employers is that overseas born professionals don’t sound like they appear on paper. Impressions are formed quickly, so if you’re having trouble finding the words, not speaking clearly or not using the language of your profession, that impression can only be negative.


The lunchroom chit-chat

Some of the most uncomfortable minutes (feels like hours) in the day can be spent in the lunch room. What do you talk to your colleagues about? Do you know anything about the footy? What are safe and interesting topics? What’s taboo? How do you pick up the thread of a conversation when you don’t get your colleagues’ jokes or references?


Your presentation to your manager

You have 10 minutes to present, in front of your manager, on the progress of your work and suggest recommendations. Are you too formal in your presentation? Have you acclimatised to the informal, conversational style of presentations that are given in your workplace? Does the Australian tone, to you, seem almost a little disrespectful when speaking to senior management?


Your stakeholder engagement

No matter how hard you try, you just cannot get an interview for jobs requiring ‘stakeholder engagement’ experience. What is stakeholder engagement? What does it even mean? And why do employers think that only Australian-born people can handle these roles? Is that what employers really think, or are you just being paranoid? How should you approach this ‘barrier’?


Cold-calling prospective clients

Is your success measured by how much business you bring in for the company? Would you like to attract more clients? How do you lubricate those awkward conversations with people you’ve never met before?


The team meeting

Do your team members listen to you and respect your opinion? Do you have the confidence to present initiatives to your team? Are you assertive and do you stand your ground when you know your suggestions are the right way forward? Do you get the credit you deserve for your input in the project?


Your performance review

If your organisation still uses performance reviews, do you feel equipped to meet your manager on a level playing field? Are you ready for unexpected questions about your performance? How do you articulate your value to the company? ‘So, how would you assess your first 6 months with us?’ Do you have the confidence to raise the issue of your career progression? Do you have the courage to ask for more money? Do you know how to leverage your value to the company? Do you know your value to the company?


Conference presentation

Phobia is a strong word, but would you like to feel more comfortable with public speaking? How do you really engage your audience?


Friday night at the pub

Do you feel like your career progression hinges on your ability to socialise with your colleagues? Friday night drinks and long lunches can be awkward – challenging cross-cultural tolerance.


The Australian building site

‘We f*&# this up again… and that architect wanker in his beamer’s gonna go mental.’


Did you get that? Why not? It’s English. The Australian accent and slang can make communication impossible sometimes. If you’re lucky, your colleagues and clients may notice you’re struggling with communicating in second language and they may modify their speech accordingly – we call this sort of person a sympathetic interlocutor.

Or, you could be unlucky if your colleagues don’t give a rat’s … – we have names for these people too!


Whatever your communication concerns, the power is in your hands to do something about it. Many of you will have come from holding responsible positions internationally. Why not doing everything in your power to reach that level and beyond?


OBP Australia is now accepting registrations for its upcoming Workplace Communication Workshop Series, conducted over five Saturday mornings from the Melbourne office. All sessions are facilitated by Terry O’Reilly – over 20 years’ experience in teaching English as an additional language and assisting overseas born professions make the transition to employment or progress their careers in Australia.


For more information:


Tel: 0409 330 727

Register: HERE


*Places are limited to ensure smaller groups and closer attention to individual needs.

Start date: Saturday 12 March, 2016 (9am -11:30am)

Registrations are likely to close well before the start date.



Wanker – pretentious person

Beamer – BMW car

Gonna – going to

Mental – crazy, angry

He couldn’t give a rat’s (arse) … – he doesn’t care

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