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Posts tagged ‘global communication’

What University Teaches the Most Foreign Languages?


Kelly Watkins in Antarctica. What language do penguins speak?

What university teaches more languages than any other in the world?  My alma mater – Indiana University (IU).

IU Provost & Executive Vice President, Lauren Robel, was speaking at an alumni event I recently attended.  She said that “Global Engagement” is one of three important keys for Indiana University.

As a Global Thought Leader and advocate of “all things global,” I almost cheered.  Then, I did cheer when she went on to say, “If you come to Indiana University, you will go to the world.”

In my case, she was right – literally.  I went to IU, and I’ve seen the world
(all 7 continents on this glorious globe we humans call home) 

Provost Robel shared statistics to prove how global the school is.  Here is just one – Indiana University teaches 71 languages.

71 Languages
As soon as I left the event, I had to look up the list of languages.  It was quite humbling.  Some world traveler I was.  I’d never heard of many of these!  For example –

“Avestan” is an extinct Eastern Iranian language related to Old Persian and Sanskrit.  Gujarati” is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by about 46 million people in certain Indian states.

The “Wolof” language intrigued me because, at first glance, it appeared to be “Wolf.”  Wouldn’t it be cool to talk to wolves?  (If Kevin Costner can dance with wolves, why can’t I talk with them?  But, I digress.)  It turns out that “Wolof” is a branch of the Niger-Congo language family.  It is one of the SIX national languages of Senegal.

And, that was when I found the point for this blog post …

When one small country has six national languages,
the potential for miscommunication is huge

You can understand why they misunderstand.  And, you can quickly see why there’s conflict. 

What about your organization?
How many languages does your organization speak?  Don’t just count the obvious ones – Russian, Arabic, English, Chinese, ….  What about the functional ones – Marketing, Finance, IT, Accounting, and Sales?

Are your departments sharing information and speaking across cultures, or are they operating alone in “silos” – hoarding all the resources?

Successful organizations seek to find a “global language culture”
that allows everyone to collaborate and communicate effectively

Two Questions

  1. What is your organization doing to create a global language culture? 
  2. How can I help?

Also, I would love to hear YOUR stories (probably humorous) about lack of communication.  Please comment below.

By Kelly Watkins, MBA, Global Thought Leader
I’m proud to serve on the Board of Directors for Indiana University Kelley School of Business Alumni Association.

What is poor communication costing you or your organization?  How can your organization be more effective to compete in a global market?  Find solutions at: and

Is Global Business Communication “Standard” Now?

“Isn’t global business communication pretty “standard” now?  Doesn’t everyone understand basic English?”  This question was asked by a student at Indiana University recently.  I was speaking on a Panel of Global Business experts for students interested in International Business.

I almost jumped out of my seat to answer that question.  It was a resounding NO!  –which was loudly echoed by the other Panelists.

Yes, much of the global business world speaks English.  But, that isn’t the point.

 The point is …

You need to apply a Global mindset to your communication

To be more effective, you need to adapt.  To avoid misunderstandings, you need to adapt.  To build relationships and trust, you need to adapt.  To have a more enjoyable experience personally, you need to adapt.  To sell more of your products or services, you need to adapt.

I’m guessing you understand my point by now.

When you have a global mindset, you understand that the question should be –

 “What changes do I need to make to communicate more effectively with this person

– based on his/her culture?”

 In the student’s defense, she was asking the question in a general sense.  Therefore, it presented a great opportunity for discussion.

In fact, I was quite impressed with the types of questions the Indiana University students asked.  (  It showed they understood the impact of a global economy, and they were serious about global business.  It was reassuring to know the world is in good hands with the next generation.

How do you need to adapt your communication for your next Global encounter? 

By Kelly Watkins, MBA, Global Thought Leader

Note:  You’re invited to attend “How to Go Global!” at no cost.  This is a one-hour webinar I conducted for IU alumni.  The webinar is archived at:  I’m proud to serve on the Board of Directors for Indiana University Kelley School of Business Alumni Association. 

What is poor communication costing you or your organization? How can your organization be more effective to compete in a global market? Find out: and