The Surprising Domino Effect of Interpreting

conversational dimension
The Surprising Domino Effect of Interpreting

So, you have a meeting scheduled with a group of people who do not speak your language – you do not speak theirs, either- and were recommended to hire an interpreter.

‘What’s the point?’, you ask yourself. ‘The meeting will only last a couple of hours and that will be it’.

Well, that will not be just it. Trust me.

The main benefit of working with an interpreter

The main and most important benefit of working with a professional interpreter is that communication flows effortlessly across the room (or cyberspace), especially if the interpreter is doing simultaneous translation. It is almost like magic.

There is a lot going on behind the scenes – in the interpreter’s brain and her/his notepad or tablet. There is processing of information, decoding of tone and body language, contextual analysis, resourcing of general and specific knowledge, language transference, and more.

However, none of it visible and the end-result is this feeling that every person sitting at the table speaks the same language.

I have witnessed the physical manifestation of this effect numerous times in a very simple gesture: people relaxing and sitting comfortably against the back of their seats. As simple as that.

Domino effect one: build stronger bonds

By talking to people in their language and making sure that your message is honoured and conveyed as intended by your interpreter, you build stronger bonds.

Just think how you feel when someone talks to you in broken English. Would you trust what they say based on how they said it? Would you be looking forward to your next conversation with them?  How about to working with them on an ongoing basis?

What if something they said did not make much sense to you? How likely are you to get the clarification you seek?

Meetings come in all colours and shapes and deal with all sorts of topics but, at the end of the day, they are about collaborating and building trust. A professional interpreter can, again, make the conversation flow effortlessly and, also, help clarify any cultural differences that may hamper effective communication or the development of your project.

Domino effect two: achieve your goals

If you do communicate effectively and build strong bonds, then chances are you are already one solid step closer to achieving your goals, whatever they may be:

  • closing a business deal
  • attracting investors
  • accessing new markets
  • fostering knowledge transfer
  • promoting your new government
  • laying the groundwork for future collaboration

These are all the result of successful dialogue and mutual understanding and agreement. And the one domino effect of professional interpreting that proves that your success is our success.

Domino effect three: look like the professional you are

More often than not, people focus on “the others” not speaking their language. But what about the opposite? How professional do you look trying to communicate non-effortlessly?

Sometimes, interpreters can help you save face. I am not talking about ordering some tapas and a cold cerveza but about giving a presentation in front of a panel of experts or sitting at the negotiation table with a group of high-level government officials.

It has happened many times that I am asked to interpret only into one language because my client understands the foreign language but would rather not speak it in public or to stay as a back-up in case they need me to intervene and translate.

When you plan a meeting, you do not think ‘it’ll only be a couple of hours and that’ll be it’. You expect to get something out of it, preferably more. You prepare an agenda, set goals, expect actions to be taken afterwards, and prepare to measure the results. That is the domino effect of your meeting.

Remove the ability to communicate from it and you will be just sitting there, talking to yourself

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