MYTH: Communicating in the native language will help the project.
REALTY: It might hinder, team relationships for those who do not understand the language.
Most non-English-speaking persons feel more comfortable conversing in their own language because they feel they’re better equipped to express themselves in it. In a new group, when, it comes to breaking the ice, the native language is a handy tool for those who understand it.
The problem occurs when a majority of the team members starts talking in their common native language, making it difficult for others to understand and participate in their discussions. This makes them feel unwanted and alien. Some may even feel hat this was being done on purpose. That might not be true _since it could be that, in the heat of discussions, many of the team members suddenly switch to their native language as it is difficult for them to express themselves in English and they know that the majority will understand. Sometimes, in a large team, multiple parallel discussions start happening.
It is always good from the perspective of team relationship to talk in a language understood by all. Even if those who are participating actively in the discussion might understand the native language, the discussion should take place in a language understood by all.
It is not true that bonding is always stronger among people who speak the same language. Even though a stranger can get acquainted with a person because of their common language, it is no guarantee that they will have a good working-relationship. A good working relationship overcomes language barriers. If the understanding and the relationship among team members are good, then, even if a few people switch to their native language occasionally, others will not mind. The focus should be on improving the relationship among team members so that they understand each other better—irrespective of language, sex or ethnic background.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE MANAGER? Whichever language is spoken, you and your team must do whatever it takes to ensure that the goals and objectives are mutually agreed upon. It isn’t a good practice for you to allow meetings to be run in anything other than a language all can speak, but one-on-one interaction can happen in a different language that both understand.