Managing stress in a multilingual work environment: practical tips

Managing stress in a multilingual work environment

Poles are one of the most stressed nations in Europe. According to data from ADP’s “People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View,” every fifth Pole experiences daily workplace stress. Furthermore, as many as 76% of surveyed employees in the “Mental Wellbeing at Work” study identified stress as the main cause of mental health issues, with one in four respondents experiencing negative emotions at the thought of work. Stress particularly affects individuals working in multilingual teams. How can you cope with it? We present tips that will help you easily manage stress in a multilingual work environment.

Working in a multilingual environment is a challenge

Stress is the body’s response to events, known as stressors, that disrupt its balance, burden it, and prevent effective coping. The most common stressors in the workplace include:

  1. Overload and associated chronic fatigue.
  2. Team conflicts, lack of agreement with superiors, poor relationships with colleagues.
  3. Lack of clarity about tasks.
  4. Boredom and monotony.
  5. Difficulties in communicating with superiors and coworkers.
  6. Uncomfortable working conditions.
  7. Bullying and other forms of harassment.

In the case of a multilingual work environment, there are slightly different stressors. The most frequently mentioned one is disrupted communication within the team due to cultural differences or language barriers. Multicultural employees may find it more challenging to build good relationships and efficiently perform tasks, which can worsen the team’s atmosphere and lead to conflicts.

Stress burdens the body

In moderate amounts, stress can act as a good motivator for action. However, when there is too much stress, it can paralyze and reduce efficiency. Furthermore, chronic stress negatively affects health and well-being. Unpleasant consequences of excessive stress include:

  1. Chronic fatigue.
  2. Headaches and back pain.
  3. Insomnia.
  4. Lack of energy.
  5. Weight problems (either weight loss or gain).
  6. Digestive system problems, e.g., diarrhea, indigestion.
  7. Increased sweating.

Chronic stress can seriously disrupt the body’s functioning, leading to the development of coronary artery disease, depression, stomach ulcers, or burnout syndrome. Therefore, it is essential to learn how to effectively manage stress at work.

stress at work

First and foremost, identify the stressors.

The foundation for effective stress management is identifying stressors. So, think about what you fear most in a multilingual work environment. Is it a language barrier that hinders effective communication with colleagues, team conflicts arising from cultural differences, or perhaps challenges and responsibilities related to international partners and clients? Identifying stressors will help you find a solution that forms the basis for effective stress management at work.

Find a solution to the problem.

One of the most common sources of stress in a multilingual work environment is the language barrier, which hampers effective communication, leading to misunderstandings and conflicts that can reduce team efficiency and worsen the work atmosphere. The only solution in such a situation is learning a foreign language. You can do this on your own by reading foreign articles and books, listening to podcasts, watching movies, and studying appropriate language learning materials. Using dedicated language learning apps is also a good idea. You can also enroll in a language school or take individual lessons with a native speaker or language instructor. Improving your language skills is an opportunity to better communicate with multilingual colleagues and thus minimize stress at work.

If cultural differences are a stressor in your job, try to understand the attitudes and motivations of your multicultural coworkers. There are plenty of online resources available to help you learn how to communicate with individuals from different cultures. This knowledge will undoubtedly facilitate your navigation within a multicultural work environment.

And how do you overcome the fear of contact with international partners or clients? Without a doubt, you need to boost your confidence. Practice (even in front of a mirror) conducting business conversations in another language, and remember to prepare thoroughly before each meeting. If you struggle with self-belief, seek the help of a psychologist or motivational coach.

no stress

What else can you do?

Physical activity is an invaluable tool in combating chronic stress. Exercise weakens the body’s stress response, counteracts the negative effects of acute and chronic stress, and improves mood. Furthermore, it reduces the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. Regular physical activity is a remedy for both the body and mind!

Diet is also significant. A well-rounded, balanced diet strengthens the body’s resilience, which can be weakened by excessive and chronic stress. Healthy eating is a way to significantly lower cortisol levels, known as the stress hormone, increase serotonin levels, lower blood pressure, and relax tense muscles. A stressed individual’s diet should include foods rich in B vitamins, which are responsible for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Additionally, include foods containing polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and manganese in your diet.

Rest plays a vital role in effective stress management. Remember to prioritize your comfort on a daily basis. Cultivate your passions, spend quality time with loved ones, and engage in what you love. Your stress-worn body needs substantial relaxation!

And remember – don’t stress in advance! Often, what seems terrifying to us is of little significance in reality. Avoid assuming the worst-case scenarios and don’t project too far into the future. Focus on the here and now. Don’t stress over things you can’t control.

Specialized training programs can be incredibly helpful in learning stress management techniques for the workplace. During these programs, you will learn proven and effective crisis management techniques.

Once you learn how to effectively manage stress, working in a multilingual environment will become easier and more enjoyable. You’ll gain new energy, motivation, and enthusiasm for your work, which will undoubtedly translate into professional success. Moreover, you’ll feel better – your body and mind will regain balance. Start making these changes today and free yourself from the stress that negatively impacts your daily life!

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