Intercultural communication: a boat trip for your clients.

Intercultural communication is like a boat trip for your clients. They know the point of departure and have a vague idea of where they want to end up. The bit in between is your job: getting them there and doing it while leaving positive memories behind, whatever the weather.

What does it take to be a good skipper?

According to this commonsense article in Yachting World – and they should know – a good skipper

  • communicates clearly
  • stays calm and confident
  • promotes fairness and listens to their team (treats them with respect)
  • is cheerfully available at all times, whenever called
  • acts decisively.

Sounds daunting, but it’s only describing time-honoured client-to-translator communication really. That’s all it is.

In today’s blog article, I’ll look at clarity of communication at the crucial opening stage. This boils down to telling your client the bad news first, without overstating or sounding dramatic.

As a skipper-translator you’re often put on the back foot by your clients right from the start. The phone rings and a brisk-sounding voice tells you that they already know everything about the boat, the destination, and yachting in general, so all they need from you is how much for the trip.

That kind of loaded early communication can get anyone’s wires crossed, particularly when you’re physically or mentally tired. Aren’t you tempted to just play along and give them a price? Of course you are. Don’t. More likely than not, they haven’t a clue what they are talking about.

My experience from interacting with seasoned and senior professionals from the Healthcare industry is that status and experience matter little – what everyone wants, is their translator to ask lots and lots of questions. Questioning brings the true, deeper purpose for the journey to the surface – and that’s going to make all the difference for them and for you. They will benefit from having their preconceived ideas about the journey challenged. And you will benefit from bypassing price – because now you’re talking value.

Congratulations. You’ve just shifted the discussion from price to value. That’s the perfect starting point for a pleasant boat trip.

So, how do you stay calm when the trip isn’t going well? “Calm and confident” will be my next blog post. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts here…

By our Keynote speaker Fotis Fotopoulos,

Why Context Matters: Rethinking Intercultural Communication

You’ve been hearing the term “intercultural communication” for years now, but do you actually know what it truly means and entails?

Have you considered its impact on you as a translator or on the practice of translation as an intercultural activity?

Have you ever thought of yourself as an intercultural mediator?

Have you thought about the impact intercultural blunders in multilingual production of materials may have on your client or your reputation?

Intercultural communication is more than translation and can generate opportunities that you may not have considered. Understanding the complicated context of intercultural communication of the business environment is the first step in setting yourself apart today.

By our Suave Interculturalist, Ioannis Karras