Interpreting is a job that requires you to keep up with the times and stay alert. The ability to stay focused, think calmly, and anticipate what's coming next are all qualities necessary for successful liaison interpreting. Interpreters must also have excellent reading skills and in-depth knowledge of the subject. All these factors come into play when negotiations are carried out. Working as an interpreter or translator in this environment means having to deal with delicate situations and topics on a daily basis. This can make negotiating much more difficult than you think. A wrong word or phrase can put your client in a bad position, especially as a negotiation runs on an unstable balance, even if both parties speak the same language, due to cultural differences and communication styles. To make the negotiation easier, we have compiled some useful tips for interpreting experts.
Don't be afraid to ask questions Asking questions is extremely important when interpreting in a negotiation. It can allow you to understand the situation better and show that you are attentive and interested in the discussion. If a customer or representative asks you a question, but you're not sure of the answer, don't be afraid to admit it. It's better to say, "I'm sorry, but I'm not sure," than to say something potentially incorrect. Once you better understand what the other parties need, you can suggest different solutions or ideas to help the negotiation move forward. If you keep to yourself and don't actively participate in the conversation, you could miss the opportunity to help your client, as well as miss relevant facts and information that could come in handy later, during the interpretation.
Invite the parties to pause when the tones rise Commercial negotiations are generally very cordial, but sometimes it can happen that the situation becomes slightly tense or that the tone for some reason rises. When this happens, always seek cooperation. Both sides have a lot to lose. These conflicts are usually caused by monetary differences and the typical tug of war at the end of the deal. So, when everything seems to become critical and you see no way out, invite everyone to take a break, perhaps with a coffee or, why not, a beer.
Prepare the material and plan the meeting Although in general in liaison interpreting the interpreter does not need the same type of preparation as simultaneous or consecutive interpreting, it is important that you and the client plan the meeting in advance. Undoubtedly, the more the interpreter knows the subject, the company and the client's sector in general, the greater the chances of success of the negotiation.
Set goals and expectations Make sure you clarify what each party wants and expects from the negotiation. You can do this by asking questions such as: "What do you want to achieve with this negotiation?", "What are your expectations of what will happen in this negotiation?". You can also help the parties understand each other better by asking questions such as: “What are the main issues of this negotiation?”, “What aspects do you hope to change or modify through this negotiation?” and again: “What did you do in previous negotiations to help you achieve your goals?”. These questions can help you better understand the negotiation and goals of the parties, and most importantly, find common ground between them.
To summarise Summarizing what you heard during the negotiation can help you better understand the situation and can help the parties move the discussion forward. You should summarize what the parties said before, during and after the negotiation. This allows you to be more attentive and focused, as well as allowing the parties to understand each other better. It can also help you summarize or remember what you heard so you can interpret it correctly. To summarize, help yourself with phrases such as: "What I heard you say is...", or "what I understood is...". This will help you interpret correctly and move the negotiation forward.
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