When you communicate with a person speaking a different language, most of the time the differences between you are not only about the different languages you speak. That person may come from a different culture, which may shape the way they communicate and perceive the world. In some circumstances, the lack of understanding of the person’s culture may have unexpected consequences. Besides speaking the language well, a good translator and interpreter should be able to recognize the culture and the value held by the other person and build a bridge connecting the person from two different cultures.
Being aware of the nuances of different languages can be quite important in a business setting. Understanding and sometimes following the cultural customs can be quite helpful and be perceived by the counterparty as professional, friendly, and trustworthy.
Although people from the U.K. speak very similar language (if not the same) as people from the U.S., they value a different set of culture and customs in their daily communication. In a business meeting, they dislike confrontation and would like to avoid it in a humorous or understated way.
Known for being rigorous, German care more about whether the counterparty can provide adequate support for their arguments. They are used to sticking to the procedure and value professionalism in a business event.
On the other hand, Italian like to try using a flexible approach in a business meeting. They would take on various perspectives to help illustrate their points of view to persuade the counterparty, and as a result, the meeting can be quite time-consuming.
Very different from Italian, people from Finland are often quite concise in a meeting. A succinct but effective presentation would be deemed by them as professional.
As for people from China, they are more used to solely exchanging information with their counterparty instead of aiming to reach an agreement by the end of the meeting. Their decisions are often made after another meeting without the counterparty at presence.
Understanding the culture of the counterparty can be as important as understanding the language. In a business meeting, the mutual understanding can eliminate the barrier, and facilitate a friendly and constructive conversation.
At Alliance Business Solutions, our translators and interpreters, having first-hand experience with both cultures, are always ready to bridge not only the language but also the culture gap.