The Importance of Cultural Knowledge in Business Interpreting

In today’s post, we’re going to reveal just how important it is, as an interpreter, to have a good understanding of the culture of the parties in a business relationship. In this case, the interpreter is essential, as they have information about the countries both parties are from that will contribute to making the negotiation as fruitful as possible.

More and more companies are turning to us for the services of a professional interpreter who serves as a nexus in business meetings. However, few people are aware of the ins and outs of this profession in the face of certain situations that may have a significant influence when building a new business relationship.

Let’s talk with gestures

Non-verbal communication is paramount, even more so than the message to be interpreted, given that it is a conversation between people who not only speak different languages, but also have different customs and social conventions. Non-verbal communication is a type of body language that is very revealing, disclosing even more information than verbal communication, and is key for supporting what is said. The messages that we transmit through body movements such as gestures, postures, looks, etc., may be intentional or unintentional. Therefore, not only is the content important, but also how the message is transmitted, as non-verbal factors are also a very valuable source of information.

Two languages, two cultures

We’re now going to look at some of the most noteworthy cases in which the source and target cultures differ and how not having the necessary cultural knowledge could impact the closing of a new business deal. If you decide to negotiate with companies based in China and you want to leave your business card, it’s better to hold it by the corners and offer it using two hands while gently bowing your head, because if you hand your card to them with one hand or holding it in the middle, you’ll probably need to change direction. If you prefer to do business with Germans, we suggest you arrive promptly, because arriving 15 minutes late in Germany may spell the end of a relationship (that might not have even started). For those who love to queue-jump, we recommend you don’t try that in Sweden because people love waiting in line and queue-jumping is one of their biggest pet hates. Another key factor that many companies are usually unaware of when wanting to build new business relationships revolves around greetings; when in doubt, go for the handshake! That said, some countries are affectionate by nature, like in France, where everyone usually greets each other with two kisses on the cheek, but remember, right cheek first!

Ultimately, each culture has its own customs and social conventions, which is why it’s important to do some finding out beforehand or have an idea of these cultural differences in order to know which non-verbal elements are regarded as correct in the target culture and, by doing so, avoid misunderstandings that could arise from the aforementioned situations.

How can Tatutrad help?

Here at Tatutrad, we’re conscious of the multiculturalism that prevails in today’s society and, that’s why, whether it’s for a trip, tourism or looking for new countries where you can expand your company, our professional interpreters know the customs and traditions of different cultures and could help you take huge steps to reach your objective. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you require quality interpreting services, we’ll be delighted to help.