As a newcomer to Canada, developing strong workplace communication skills and gaining an understanding of Canadian workplace culture can seem like a daunting task. However, enhancing these skills can increase your confidence, help you build strong working relationships and lead to successful employment or advancement opportunities.

Understanding Canadian Workplace Culture

Developing relationships with colleagues and managers at work is an important part of Canadian workplace culture. Building these relationships and connecting with other professionals requires effective communication.

In Canada, introductions and first impressions are extremely important and can influence how you are treated and viewed in the workplace. Enhancing your conversation skills and improving English pronunciation are good first steps in making a good first impression. Both can help you to build valuable business relationships.

Developing Workplace Communication Skills

Enhancing your conversation and business language skills takes practice. Here are a few tips to help develop your workplace communication skills.

  • Collaborate with others to improve your pronunciation and social skills.
  • Practise for real life situation with others and ask for feedback to help build your confidence in your ability to effectively communicate in a culturally appropriate way.
  • Listen, respond and pay close attention to body language when speaking with others. In Canadian culture, social skills are often considered more important than your ability to speak perfect English.
  • Learn the art of small talk. It is an important skill when building workplace relationships. Start by talking about light topics, such as hobbies or other interests, to find a common ground from which to build a relationship with the other person.
  • Use humour when appropriate and always smile when speaking with others.

Making a Good First Impression

A good first impression can influence how you are perceived and treated in the workplace. Your body language plays a vital role in this impression. Non-verbal behaviour is highly tied to Canadian culture and can greatly influence first impressions. An introduction is as much about WHAT is said as HOW it is said.

  • Be the first to say “hello.” If you are not sure whether the other person will remember your name, offer it to ease the pressure. Make an extra effort to remember names and use them throughout your conversation.
  • Make eye contact. It can be tricky to make eye contact if you are shy or nervous but it will help to build trust and engage your audience.
  • Stay focused on the other person by actively listening and giving feedback. Never glance around the room while the other person is talking to you.
  • Try to listen more than you talk.
  • Offer a firm handshake. A handshake is a professional and customary way to introduce yourself to another individual. Your handshake should convey confidence and show your pleasant personality.
  • Have a warm smile. A warm smile can be a powerful expression. A smile shows you are friendly and can create a more comfortable environment to start communicating.
  • Be confident in your body language. People who look uncomfortable make others feel uncomfortable. Act confident and comfortable, even when you’re not.
  • Prepare a few exit lines. It’s important to notice when others want to end the conversation. If you have a few exit lines ready, you can gracefully end the conversation and leave a good impression.