María Palomares Tarí
COMMUNICATING ACROSS CULTURES: HOW INTERPRETERS DEAL WITH CROSS-CULTURAL ISSUES IN BUSINESS
In today’s increasingly global business landscape, the ability to connect with people from various cultures is key to creating strong business relationships. Additionally, employees interact with colleagues, customers and prospects from different parts of the world on a regular basis. What is not that easy, however, is to form a bond without understanding of cultural nuances.
But why can’t the meeting just be hold in English? Why is culture so important?
On the one hand, while English is widely used in the business world, customers more often prefer to do business in their own language (from both cultural and a linguistic point of view). Besides, when conducting a business meeting in English, you may not learn that your partner did not understand you until something does not turn out as expected. On the other hand, learning the other language may be a good option but rarely feasible when dealing in multiple countries or with limited time available.
Equally, language is socially constructed and therefore embedded in the culture. Misinterpreting the words or the cultural meaning associated with them may affect the entire interchange in a very negative way. In the case of a business deal, it may be a deal-breaker.
Understanding the embedded meanings requires mastering the language and when face-to-face communication in two languages is required, the best option is to rely on a professional interpreter.
The role interpreters play in cross-cultural communication
Cross cultural communication is a form of global communication which describes how people of different culture communicate and interact with each other in different ways among themselves.
Besides, cultures have visible and hidden elements. Visible cultural features include elements from artifacts, symbols, and practices to social etiquette and traditions. But these are only ten percent of our cultural identities -- hidden cultural differences (such as values, assumptions, and beliefs) represent the remaining ninety percent of our cultural identity!
Interpretation, as an intercultural communication bridge, demands that interpreters not only master exquisite language techniques, but also rich knowledge of different cultural backgrounds and the important functions of intercultural awareness during intercultural communication.
In many business situations, a good interpreter can become a major asset by constructing bridges and opening doors that would surely not be opened to an outsider!
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