By | Shital Kakkar Mehra | Executive Presence Coach for CEOs I Business Communication Expert I Best-selling Author I Co-Founder Katalyst, NGO
In cross-border negotiations, it helps to retain the services of an interpreter, even if your overseas counterpart has a basic working knowledge of English. Interpreters are trained professionals, who facilitate communication while maintaining the strictest levels of confidentiality.
Invest time explaining your business and the objective of the meeting to the interpreter. This helps improve the quality and the speed of interpretation as he/she understands the technical terms you will use during the meeting. Build a level of comfort with the interpreter, so that they are at ease stopping you to clarify a point, during the meeting.
Make introductions; shake hands, exchange greetings and business cards (dual language) with all the members of your counterpart’s team.
Speak clearly, slowly, use simple vocabulary and short sentences. This makes it easier for the interpreter to remember your conversation. Pepper your conversation with pauses, giving the interpreter time to relay a nugget of information. Ask one question at a time and be patient. Avoid slang, excessive jargon, idioms and humor, which rarely translate well in another language.
When speaking / listening, maintain direct eye contact with your counterpart and not with the interpreter. Use positive body language like smiling and nodding to show interest. Avoid gestures, as they have varied meanings across the world. Advise your interpreter on the expected dress-code.
Interpreters are seated next to the decision-maker, opposite the counterpart’s interpreter.
Business meetings use consecutive interpreting. It is advisable to maintain a slow pace, as your counterpart will be always a few sentences behind you.
Closure: Thank your counterpart, their interpreter and your interpreter. To show interest learn the greeting, thank you and good-bye in your counterpart’s language.
Interpreters “interpret thinking and not just words” which can be a big asset in cross-border negotiations!