How To Communicate Internationally

Business Blog

As small businesses grow they find it increasingly important, even necessary, to do business across cultural and linguistic borders.  Our world is becoming more and more cohesive, so it is important to know how to relate to people in other countries and cultures in your business dealings.  Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

Differences in Culture and Custom

It might be obvious to you that you should learn about a country's customs before traveling there to do business.  But this same concept may be lost on those who are having visitors from another country, or who are facilitating an international call or video chat.  It is always important to make your counterpart feel they are understood in order to foster trust and communication.

Part of making this happen is to understand how others see what is appropriate in business dealings.  For example, some countries see it as respectful of your time to be "flexible" with deadlines, meeting times, etc.  This can indicate that they realize you are busy, but trust that business will be done.  In other countries, it is of paramount importance that meetings begin on time, run for the allotted amount of time, and that projects are completed in a precise, timely manner.  While you may be in a position to set the tone of such matters, realize that your time management style may differ from those you do business with.

Language Differences

You may find it necessary to communicate in more than one language with your employees and/or clients.  While it can be helpful to hire bilingual employees to help facilitate this type of communication, it still may be necessary to work with an interpreter to best communicate.  A conversation or meeting using an interpreter has unique challenges, so be sure to plan ahead.

Translating between two languages takes time and mental effort, so first and foremost know that a meeting of this type will take more time.  Additionally, you might want to speak with the interpreter before-hand to familiarize them with technical jargon, people or places they may need to know, and any notes or quotes you plan to read from.  It can also be helpful to set some ground rules, such as how many sentences should be translated at a time and the like.

Always remember to speak directly to your business counterpart when using an interpreter.  While they are speaking, maintain eye contact and let them know that you are listening.  The interpreter is there to translate content, but you are building the business relationship with the person for whom they are translating, so it is important to speak to them directly.

For more information about translation services, contact a company like Liaison Multilingual Services, Inc.


25 May 2015

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