The Importance of Cultural Knowledge in Business Interpreting

In today’s post, we’re going to reveal just how important it is for interpreters to have a good understanding of the culture of the parties in a cross-cultural business relationship.

Interpreters are essential figures. Their knowledge about the countries the different parties are from will help make the negotiation as fruitful as possible.

More and more companies are turning to us for professional interpreting services as interpreters serve as a nexus in business meetings. However, few people are aware of the ins and outs of this profession and how interpreters may have a significant influence when building a new business relationship.

Interpreting gestures and body language

Non-verbal communication is paramount, perhaps even more so than the spoken message. A cross-cultural meeting is a conversation between people who not only speak different languages, but also have different customs and social conventions.

This form of communication, which includes facial expressions, gestures and body language, is very revealing. It discloses even more information than verbal communication and is key for supporting what is said. The messages we transmit through body movements such as gestures, postures, looks, and so on, may be intentional or unintentional.

Non-verbal communication is a very valuable source of information. It isn’t just what you say in a meeting that is important, but how you transmit the message.

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. Not having the necessary cultural knowledge could impact the closing of a new business deal!

If you are negotiating with a company based in China and want to leave your business card, hold it by the corners and offer it using two hands while gently bowing your head. If you hand them your card with one hand or while holding it in the middle, you’ll probably need to look elsewhere for a deal.

When doing business with Germans, we suggest you arrive promptly. Arriving 15 minutes late in Germany may spell the end of a business relationship (that might not have even started).

If you like to queue-jump, we recommend you don’t try that in Sweden. People love waiting in line and queue-jumping is one of their biggest pet hates.

Another thing that many companies are usually unaware of when wanting to build new business relationships is how to greet the other party. When in doubt, go for the handshake! That said, some countries are affectionate by nature. In France, for example, people tend to greet each other with a kiss on each cheek. Remember, though, right cheek first!

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

Professional interpreting services

Here at Tatutrad, we’re conscious of the multiculturalism that prevails in today’s society. 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. Our team could help you take huge steps towards reaching your objective.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you require high-quality interpreting services, we’ll be delighted to help.