When communicating, it sometimes takes more than words to get the right message across, says Sheri Long, of Amigos at Work, and Jorge Estrada, of Leadership Coaching International, in a joint presentation at the Professional Dairy Heifer Growers Association meeting in March.

They recommend using these eight steps to improve practical day-to-day communications with Hispanic employees. (Many of the rules apply to your English-speaking employees, as well.)

1. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

2. Give a few clear directions. Demonstrate or use pictures to show how.

3. Slow down when speaking. If you normally speak at 100 mph, slow down to 50 mph.

4. Ask employees to tell you what you told them. (If you say “do you understand?” they  usually say “yes” to please you whether or not they understand.)

5. Use some Spanish to help put employees at ease. “Por favor” and “gracias” go a long way.

6. Tell employees they did a good job as often as possible and use a literal pat on the back.

7. Consider a combination of spoken and written communication. Use a professional translator as needed.

8.Use frequent gatherings for training, as well as to promote “social glue.”