The sense of linguistic or intercultural mediation aims to create an effective relationship between the interlocutors, whether these are foreign customers or business partners. While avoiding more or less justified cultural misunderstandings, our advice is to rely on experts and linguists in the field specialized in a given language and related culture. It will not seem strange now to think of the educational combination that language universities offer, between language and culture. It is difficult to find a linguistic university course that proposes the study of the language without deepening the more humanistic and cultural subjects.
In order to relate, we must therefore be willing to change the "software of the mind" in order to be able to understand other people's behaviors that at first glance could be inappropriate, offensive, rude.
Let's see what might be some of the thematic areas to pay attention to when interacting with a foreign interlocutor.
Communication style and tone of voice in linguistic mediation
Some cultures, such as Northern Europe and America, favor direct communication, without beating about the bush some cultures, others, such as those more typically of the Asian and Eastern area, may prefer for mediation and indirect communication.
At the same time, while in Mediterranean countries the tone of voice tends to be relatively higher than that frequently held by northern European or Asian cultures. While for some, keeping a loud voice could be completely normal, for others it could be a cause of embarrassment or misunderstanding.
Normally in the middle of a dialogue, we are ethically invited to respect speaking turns in order to avoid overlapping of voices. But you may notice that for some cultures such as the Mediterranean ones, superimposing the voices seems to indicate a sign of participation in the discussion.
Gestures and facial expressions: non-verbal communication in cultural mediation
It is often said that a look or a body is worth a thousand words. the power that non-verbal communication has is absolutely not to be underestimated, especially in the business field and especially in contact with foreign people and interlocutors, with whom we may not share the same habits or non-verbal languages.
Not having control over your emotions or mood can be beneficial in countries like Russia or Latin America. But if we had to talk to a customer of northern European or Asian origin, letting what we feel shine through one's face is not really accepted custom. It tends you in cultures like these to control your facial expressions and your own face.
Maintaining eye contact is another aspect that is almost mandatory for Western countries, while for Indian or African countries, avoiding eye contact is considered a form of respect, especially when in the presence of older people.
Hands, sign language. Every single gesture that is usual for us or acceptable for someone else could instead be a symbol of rudeness or a reason for misunderstanding.
The conception of time
For many countries, time is money, a resource not to be wasted, but rather to be invested in the best possible way. For example, for countries in Northern Europe, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, the United Kingdom, it is advisable to respect deadlines and commitments. While more Latin countries, such as Mexico, or eastern ones such as India, are more tolerant and flexible on the issue of delays, since for them time is a relationship. They are much more interested in optimizing the time to create bonds with people rather than schematically following pre-established programs, without a shadow of a mistake.
The conception of time and the concept of punctuality depends a lot on the social and cultural context, as well as on a subjective and individual perception.
Business etiquette, between linguistic and intercultural mediation
However, this does not mean that in order to allow a connection with the other, one must know the diversity, the background, the peculiarities inherent in each individual, which can make the difference in the course of linguistic mediation and intercultural mediation.
That's what happens when it comes to business etiquette. It is a good habit in the professional field to behave or position oneself in one way rather than another. “Business does not admit ignorance”, it is therefore better to prepare for an international meeting, and the best way is to rely on an interpreter who knows how to move, what to say, and how to pose. Making use of the intercultural as well as linguistic mediation of an interpreter can be your trump card.
International Congresses Press Office