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Re-thinking Cross-cultural Communication In The Digital Age

Re-thinking cross-cultural communication in the digital age

In the globalised world, in which we are now living, the interaction between business people is becoming increasingly easy as well as increasingly frequent. The internet offers any number of possibilities to this end.

This means that meeting people in person is not the only solution. There are alternatives offered by technology to name the main ones: google hangout, zoom, GoToMeetings and many others. If you trade on an international scale, you have probably taken advantage of some of them to facilitate the communication process.

However, you are no doubt aware that building up worthwhile relationships depends largely on face to face contacts, shaking hands to seal the deal, having a discussion over lunch and thereby strengthening relations with our customers and associates. Yet we are living at a time of digitalisation and technological advances. It would be very unwise to underestimate those growing opportunities.

Such direct contacts may be impeded by language barriers. They would have to be overcome in order to bridge the communication gap. Even though English is increasingly the lingua franca of business, some delicate negotiations or very specialised conferences might require relying on translation by a professional interpreter. It is not always expedient, and it might be financially unrewarding to organise an ad hoc face to face encounter in another location with a skilled interpreter on the spot. The alternative consists in utilising cutting-edge platform for meetings with simultaneous (in real-time) interpreting conducted by professional people working from their own location at a distance. So, it is not interpreting by machines but by trained professionals using appropriate technology to serve your needs while minimising your investments.

To illustrate that with an example – let’s say you’re on a business trip in Brazil and you have an important business meeting that was not planned far in advance. The problem is you don’t speak Portuguese and your counterpart doesn’t speak your language sufficiently to negotiate with confidence. Organising for an interpreter to come on-site needs careful planning, administration and comes at considerable expense. With a platform such as Interprefy, a meeting can be arranged in any language combination at short notice and all that is required is for each person at the meeting to connect through the dedicated app on a smart device or on their laptop.

This remote interpreting platform is suitable for:

  • Small meetings such as negotiating a deal or a presentation of a new product. Participants need not all be in the same location. All they need is a laptop or an application on a smartphone. On the other hand, interpreters can work from a distance when they are also connected to the same platform.
  • Seminars/workshops if you intend for instance to train your employees working away from the head office in different time zones. The same solution as above applies.
  • Conferences without any need for booths or interpreters on-site. The delegates listen to the remote interpreting with smart devices or can use traditional headphones.

The above approach may save expenses on travel, accommodation, hiring of equipment and above all time which as we know is money. This is extremely helpful when you suddenly need to organise an international meeting especially if travel is difficult (for instance when visas are required). In addition to these points, it is argued that the quality is the same as if the professional interpreter had to be on the spot. However yet again, the personal touch cannot be replaced therefore this is an additional instrument at your disposal not a substitute for the traditional methods. Needless to say, the professional interpreter, who is at the forefront of technology, would be the best adviser on the appropriate platform for your needs.

To summarise, as technological advances continue to make business interaction more accessible, enlightened businessmen should harness this invention without losing sight of customary strategies for efficient communication.

Ewa Jasinska-Davidson
www.ewajasinska.com

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