Canadian workplace culture emphasizes the importance of fostering relationships with colleagues and managers in the workplace. Building these relationships and connecting with other professionals is highly influenced by your ability to communicate effectively.
In Canada, introductions and first impressions are extremely important and can influence how you are treated and viewed in the workplace. Enhancing conversation skills and improving English pronunciation are the first steps in making a good first impression and can help to build valuable business relationships.
The Importance of Soft Skills and Mastering “Small Talk”
Enhancing conversational and business language skills takes practice. For conversation skills, collaborating with others to improve pronunciation and social skills can be very beneficial. Practicing for real life situations with others and receiving feedback can build confidence in your ability to communicate effectively and in a culturally appropriate way. Listening, responding, and paying close attention to body language can enhance your ability to make small talk, which is an important skill to have when starting to build a workplace relationship.
In Canadian culture, social skills are often considered more important than your ability to speak perfect English. It is the art of small talk that will enhance your communication skills and help you form great relationships. Starting with light topics such as hobbies or interests can help you to find common ground from which to build a relationship.
Using humour and having a smile is always encouraged. These techniques are usually well received and tend to be more effective when building relationships than a stern or “hard” demeanor.
Making a Great First Impression
A good first impression can influence how you are perceived and treated in the workplace and your body language plays a vital role. Non-verbal behavior is highly tied to culture and can greatly influence first impressions. An introduction is as much about what is said as how it is said.
Here are a few tips on making a good first impression in Canada:
- Make eye contact. It can be tricky to make eye contact if you are shy or nervous, but it is very important. Eye contact helps build trust and engages your audience.
- 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.
- Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with others. Remember that practice makes perfect and that you should take every opportunity to practice your “small talk” and conversation skills. Look for everyday opportunities and easy topics like the weather, travel, commuting, food, and entertainment.
Workplace Culture and Communication Opportunities with ACCES Employment
Marcelo Lins moved to Canada from Brazil and was looking to utilize his skills and expertise in the information technology field to find a job. Marcelo wanted to first understand the job market, learn the language, and find his bearings in a new country.
Upon arrival, Marcelo felt lost and was unsure of where to start his job search. He was grateful to find the Language for Workplace Connections program offered by ACCES Employment and he registered for the five-week program with high expectations. The program provides job seekers the opportunity to improve their English communication skills and learn more about Canadian workplace culture. It is also a great opportunity to network with other professionals.
“I would recommend the program to everyone that is new to Canada. It’s very important to start by understanding where you are and learning appropriate language and conversation skills,” says Marcelo.
Marcelo successfully completed the program and felt that the most important thing he learned was how to demonstrate his confidence while communicating in a business environment. “The first thing to understand is how to use your body language to demonstrate confidence. It’s important to start with the physical aspects of communicating and demonstrating this directly through your body language,” says Marcelo.
Marcelo successfully utilized his new understanding of Canadian workplace culture and communications to secure a job in information technology at BMO. By strengthening his communication skills and learning about Canadian workplace culture, Marcelo was successful in navigating the job market and finding employment in his field.
ACCES Employment is a sector-leader in providing employment services to job seekers across Ontario and in Canada. Its network of over 1,000 employers helps to establish new connections for newcomers, helping individuals to find jobs in their field of expertise in roles that reflect their experience. Visit www.accesemployment.ca to learn more about how to start a job search as a newcomer to Canada.
Language for Workplace Connection is funded by the Government of Canada.