Language barriers can be intimidating obstacles to cross, and are becoming more frequent in our ever-diverse country. As minorities are projected to become the new majority of the population by the year 2044, according to the Census Bureau, tapping into this new market might be a smart move to make. Still, interacting with foreign-speakers must be dealt with carefully to avoid intricacies from arising due to culture differences. Other than regular business behavior, there are
certain points to bear in mind when taking over a non-English speaking client.
Ask the Right Questions
Aside from getting as much information as possible to determine your client’s needs from your first meeting, make sure you ask how much English they can speak and understand. Some individuals feel embarrassed about their fluency and choose not to speak English, but can understand most of what is being said. This does not necessarily mean you will not need an interpreter, but can help the communication between both parties run smoother. An interpreter can be used to ensure that the accuracy of the information remains.
make sure it has been conveyed accurately. Make sure to also identify the correct name and spelling of the client to avoid future problems or confusions.
Understand their culture
Cultural sensitivity is one of the most important keys to providing foreign clients with the same high-quality level of service as you provide everyone else. If possible, before you meet with your new client, try to learn more about their country and cultural background to determine how to best interact with them. There may be customs your client may find offensive, which you may not be aware of. For example, in some countries, looking at someone right in the eye while talking to them can be deemed as insulting, while in the U.S. it’s considered at as a sign of honesty and openness.
Sticking to plain English is the safest way to communicate between parties who don’t speak the same language. Avoiding the use of jargon, slang, or technical language can confuse your client and even your interpreter, as they may not be well-acquainted with terms you use regularly. Speaking slowly and using different ways to explain statements will keep the conversation more suitable for everyone.
Allocate time accordingly
Taking over a foreign-speaking client means having to invest a little more time in the exchange of information process. With every interaction, proceed with caution to make sure you are not progressing too quickly before your client understands you clearly. As a general rule, dealings with foreign-speakers will take a little longer than planned due to the language barrier, therefore allocate time accordingly when setting up meetings with them.
Don’t be discouraged to serve foreign-speaking clients. Here at JG & Associates, we can make sure your communication with your clients is accurate and will make sure the appropriate steps are taken to protect their confidential information. If you have any question about our services, contact us and we’ll be happy to help!