The power of communication and what this means for Article 50

So last week I wrote about the dimensions of communication and I was flattered by the response I received. But the biggest impact by far was that only a day or two after first releasing the post that I was hit with the epiphany about what it is we provide in the language industry.

Synopsis:

Over a number of years now I’ve been asking myself what it is I actually do that helps others. Don’t get me wrong I know that I help people and businesses but what is it exactly that they get from me? After writing my, to date, best blog of the year last week I had an epiphany. Whatever way you want to frame it, the answer to long term question has been answered and the answer is pretty simple, but still very profound. I help people communicate in such a manner that they build trust with people who do not speak their language.

With the submission, today, of Article 50 there is never a more important time in our country’s recent history where communication in multiple languages is going to be of utmost importance. And building new foundations of trust are absolutely paramount.

The power of communication

Throughout our entire lives, we’re influenced by our environment and those who communicate within it. It is initially how we gain the knowledge of our first language, but it goes far deeper than that. Our political viewpoints, our life lessons, our futures all begin with how we are communicated to and from where; making things extremely complicated when we get older if our views later differ from those of whom we uphold the greatest amount of respect. When this happens it demonstrates a level of adult development beyond that of the majority (72%), as they have begun their transition into Postconventional Understanding.

If you find the time to read the paper on Ego Development Theory by Susanne Cook-Greuter you’ll gain significant insight into this fascinating area of behavioural science. In short, those who can “break the mould” and begin thinking individually, and further, are the ones who have a significantly more grounded understanding of how important communication really is and rather than impose this upon others, they are more likely to listen and question their own views in order to further their own understanding and development.

Volume of noise

As we here in the UK enter into the next phase of our country’s history, there is going to be a huge amount of rhetoric from both divides rebuking and counter claiming the other sides “body of Truth”. Sadly for us to be able to hear the real discussions we have to filter out all this noise and begin to look for those individuals who demonstrate a far greater propensity to listen and review than they do posturing as “know it alls”. It is often said that the ones to be more mindful of are the quietest in the room and this is very sound advice. All of that said, Article 50 has now been instigated and there is going to be some significant shouting to filter out over the coming 2 years but we, the United Kingdom, need to also become the most attentive listeners throughout this period.

Communication channels

Throughout the Article 50 process, we’re going to be engaged in negotiations with countries who’s primary language is NOT English. (Oh yeah, that old chestnut!!) Well yes, in fact, older than you may think. Religious or not what was written in the 1 Corinthians 14: 10-12 is probably more important on this, 29th March 2017 than ever before.

Quote: “Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.”

We HAVE to ensure that over the next 24 months our message is clear, concise and in a language that the receiving party understands. This does not just mean the translated text it means the context of what we are saying needs to be expressed within that text. The people we are negotiating with, need to believe us, trust us and moreover have a positive emotional connection with us. If the information we provide them with does not convey these messages then our future, and that of our children and grandchildren will be in serious jeopardy.

Conclusion

To keep this short I will say this, never has the importance of my job seemed so significant. And never before has an epiphany of that importance arrived in such a timely manner. Accurate communication creates trust, and trust is what builds long-term relationships.

TGL-2017

Within what dimension is AI communication?

Before I start I have to warn you that this blog is going to be a little longer than you’re used to from me!

Synopsis:

AI is a new buzz word amongst a number of my peers in the language industry and it spans across a variety of other industry sectors too. It has been given an elevated profile in recent months with the introduction of NMT (Neural Machine Translation) by Microsoft and Google. This, in simplistic terms, is machine translation in a large neural network trained by deep structured learning techniques. The results are producing some “human-like” translated content, even if the source of the original content is not entirely accurate. They believe that the accuracy will follow over time, and I don’t doubt that it will get better, but these results could have a more sinister impact in today’s modern communication absorption than on face value. I blogged about this previously. Since writing that piece I’ve been privileged to speak with some highly read individuals on the subject matter of AI, one such person was Marc Cohn who is the VP of Network Strategy at The Linux Foundation, and this has opened up my thoughts to a whole new take on why humans and human contact is so much more important when communicating.

The dimensions of communication:

In order to put this into context, I have broken up the way we communicate and given them dimensions.

Frist Dimension – The written word:

The written word is extremely powerful, as the saying goes “the pen is mightier than the sword” but it lacks in so much in depth and colour. Some of the best authors in the world can evoke these images but each one of those images is personal to you and your own journey to the point in time at which you read the words. How many times have you returned to a book, re-read it, and then seen it in a different way? The point is; we create the texture of what we are consuming from the written word based on our beliefs, state of mind, the speed we’ve read it and numerous other, outside and inside, influences. We’ve no doubt all experienced the social media Keyboard Warriors who then suddenly went silent after something was explained to them over the phone.

Second Dimension – The spoken word:

That leads me quite seamlessly into the second dimension, the spoken word. Our choice of vocabulary, our intonation, our breathing, our volume levels all add another level of understanding to the communication. Unlike the written word, when spoken we can express a simple word like “really” to be one of surprise or one of distrust.  A simple tut after hearing a long explanation as to where you were last night, speaks volumes and evokes feelings in both the respondent as with the receiver not possible without wordy exclamation or emoticons.

Third Dimension – Pictures or images:

The reason so many of us use emoticons is because we need to portrait a feeling visually in accompaniment to the written word. “A picture paints a thousand words” is very true and by coupling the written word together with images or emoticons, we can deliver a richer more lifelike message to the recipient but lacking once again the intonation of the spoken word.

Fourth Dimension – Video and Film:

One of the marketing successes of this generation is creating video content which goes viral. Merging the spoken word with moving images evokes a whole new level engagement with the recipient’s emotions and when done right can create an internet success almost overnight. Sadly it can also be used to evoke emotions such as existential angst, anger and other such ugly feelings resulting in fruitful recruiting grounds for those in society with different moral beliefs than the majority of us.

Fifth Dimension – Live music:

When moving into the direct communication from one human being to another there is nothing more powerful than live music. Thought provoking, beautiful poetry arranged skillfully with musical accompaniment and delivered live on stage is about as intimate as it can get in one-way communication. Yes, there’s an argument that the artist delivering this also get’s their feedback from the reaction of the audience making it a two-way communication of sorts, but this is limited to the message being given and does not diverge greatly from the original message. Obviously, this is very subjective and again the recurring theme of the present moment comes back.

Sixth Dimensions – Group meetings:

Meetings all tend to have some form of agenda, otherwise what is the point of having a meeting right? So when these happen there is generally some steer as to where the conversation is going to go. In a business meeting with more than 3 or 4 people present, it is good practice to have a chair of the meeting and with greater numbers, especially when it comes to negotiations, observers are a must. The communication here is usually divided into pack communication and if there are more than 2 packs they can get very loud and disjointed resulting in them becoming difficult to chair. Rules and guidelines of how to conduct oneself at these meetings will add another level of constraint and complexity to the event and in these cases, a single person needs to provide the authority and purvey over the order of the meeting. – The speaker in the house of commons is a prime example of somebody taking on this role. This communication level is rarely very intimate and emotions are usually evoked by pack mentality and belonging.

Seventh Dimension – Face to Face, or One on One

Before I being this final one, I would like to say that all the dimensions listed do not extend outside of the physical realm. I am aware that there is an etheric level of communications that stretches far beyond the limitations of our physical one, but this is neither the time or place to expand on that. There are also others with far greater knowledge and experience in that field, who can guide you through those if you have the desire to understand more.

Face to Face contact adds the final layer to our cake. Not only do we have the optical stimuli such as eye contact, hand gestures and other body movements, we also have all our other senses, smell, touch, and that all important gut feeling (and yes, this does stretch into the etheric). The power of being in the same room as another human being and being able to converse with one another freely is second to none. Engaging with all 5 (or 6) of the senses immerses one in the full spectrum of available emotions and is by far the most revered form of communication available to any sales professional.

Why AI will never replace human beings in sales:

Taking the above into consideration, it is quite easy to see why AI will not be able to replace sales professionals, but only if both parties value human contact. If you’re a sales person hiding behind social media and emails then you either need to up your game or leave the profession. It really is that simple! AI will certainly become good at recognising some written emotions, and most likely good enough to evoke a purchasing decision in a purely transactional sale such as the purchase of most things you find on Amazon, but it won’t be able to create the content needed to steer people down a purchasing decision that goes beyond that. And it certainly is not good enough to produce the levels of emotions created by books like the Haemin Sunim’s “The things you see only when you slow down”. Similarly, back to my industry, the content created by human linguists in marketing and such like will be extremely difficult to reproduce by the likes of NMT.

Where do you conduct most of your communication?

So far AI has managed to encroach into one or two dimensions of communication making it a fairly flat and mundane form, but they are certainly working on others. However, due to the complexity of the physical realm alone, it will be a long time before they can move it away from this flat communication field. It is in this communication field where I see a large portion of my peers hanging out too and consequently where a large amount of scaremongering content is being produced. This volume of content is clouding the overall reality in my view. There is so much noise about unprecedented job losses through to machines taking over the world with an Orwellian precision that it is often all too easy to just sit back and believe it. Yes, AI can determine your emotion by what you post on your Facebook page, but this is ultimately down to you. So be honest how often are your true emotions revealed on your Facebook page? Right now there are only a select few who know your innermost thought, in fact probably only 1 if you don’t believe, and two or more if you do believe.

So in a business world you ultimately have to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do my clients what to engage with me?
  • How do I communicate with them right now?
  • In which dimension do I produce most of my content?
  • Can I move clients from one dimension to another?
  • Are my clients wanting to move to another dimension?
  • Does what I provide need a deeper and richer understanding?

In summary, there is a lot of good coming from AI and over the years that follow it will only get better. Yes, there are going to be some job losses, as there were in the industrial revolution, but there will also be new opportunities too. However, despite the quickening of the pace of innovation, things will not change overnight and we will all have the time to adjust, who would have thought 10 year’s ago you’d be reading this on a mobile phone (statistically that’s what 60% of you will be doing), but again there’s nothing wrong with that. But here’s the thing,

So here’s the thing, AI technology is here to stay! It is being used in all manner of ways but the one area I don’t believe it will ever take over is real and in-depth communication.

 

Did you already hit your quota for the year? – March 2017

It is trade show fever right now! The beginning of the new financial year is around the corner for some, and it is the end of Q1 for others, but one thing is for sure, everyone is out touting for new business. – Well almost everyone.

I certainly am, I’m attending event after event and typically ones where existing clients are exhibiting. I’m using this time to visit some of our existing clients to ensure that we’re doing all we can to help them and then scouting around for new business in areas that I know we have a catalogue of demonstrable success and consequently very happy customers.

It is actually a really exciting part of my job, albeit a bloody tiring one. Travel, coupled with poor sleep and lack of my usual exercise regimes, all contribute to this depletion of energy but the buzz from speaking with people who I’m certain we can help, more than makes up for it. It is my personal business vice.

So this week I’ve been in our capital city, London. I enjoy my short trips to the capital, however, I have to say that I am glad that I don’t have to live there. The exhibitions I visited this week were very well attended on both days I was there and I had a number of thoroughly engaging dialogues with a great number of potential new clients, notwithstanding some amazing feedback from our existing ones. This clearly added to my good mood, which was established over the weekend prior to it by a truly exhilarating and totally awe inspiring concert from the incredibly talented Laura Marling.

Being in this mindset has enabled me to be present, attentive and empathetic with everyone I met, both at the event as well as travelling to and from it and whilst dining out throughout the 3 days I was away from the office. This presence also allowed me to become an observer from time to time and it was during this observation phase that my blood boiled over once again.

You may remember my rant– no sorry blog post — about mobile phones a few weeks back and my list of dos and don’ts whilst working a booth at a trade event. Quite evidently these guys didn’t get the memo.

PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN

I spent approximately 5 minutes watching them before taking this photo and during which time I estimated somewhere around 20 to 25 people stopped and took an interest in their products/ services, picked up a brochure and then walked on. Not once did any one of the 3 sales guys manning the stand look up or engage with anyone during that time. I can only assume that they had all hit their sales quota for the year and were simultaneously closing 3 individual million dollar deals on their phones……No???? Yeah me neither!

So come on, is it any wonder that our profession gets a bad press when this kind of attitude is deemed as acceptable behaviour during an expensive show in the heart of the London Docklands.

I must also say that this wasn’t the only exhibit of poor booth practice I experienced during my time away, but fortunately, I was also blessed with the other end of the spectrum too, a casing example of which was Brother UK.

All in all the quality of the show, exhibitors and new client leads generated was exceptional this week and the follow-up work it has generated should keep me out of trouble for a month or two.

TGL

Wake up and smell the coffee

Every day I have a cup of coffee in fact on the odd occasion I’ll have two, however, the way I indulge in my coffee experience has changed significantly over time.

When I first began to drink this wonderful brown liquid it was way back in the late 70s early 80s and, as with most of us here on this island, it was a cup of instant coffee granules mixed with sugar, milk and water straight out of a boiling kettle. The result was a cup of hot brown stuff that, at the time, tasted pretty good. Today though it has become a work of art!

V60 with wet coffee filters, 21g of freshly ground artisan roasted coffee beans, and 300ml of water poured very slowly (approximately 2 to 3 minutes) over the grounds at a temperature between 92 and 94 degrees centigrade. Not a gramme of sugar in sight and when adding it to my trusty coffee thermos I heat up 100ml of full-fat milk and pour that in first.

All this provides me with a total of 350ml of a wonderful tasting, silky smooth caffeine delight to enjoy throughout my morning’s work and I can honestly say that I savour every drop. – (350 ml because about 50ml remains soaked up by the coffee grounds)

The journey I’ve travelled to get to this point is interesting, and the cups, or at times buckets, consumed have been considerable. But what is clear is that this journey is one that I am still travelling upon and though I am completely satisfied with the results I have today, who’s to say that tomorrow there won’t be another twist or turn in the story which could introduce me to another new technique or process delivering an equally outstanding taste experience difference as with the instant to today.

This is certainly true in the world of localisation too. In order to be on top of your game in this industry, you need to be able to embrace and adapt to change, provided it results in a better outcome for the end client. Of course, there are going to be those clients where the “instant” fix will be all they need or indeed want, but that may very well be because they haven’t sampled the full V60 version yet.

So I would like to set you a challenge today. When was the last time you took a look at your translation or localisation process? When did you last review your desired outcomes? Are you living in the new age or are you still stuck in the 80s? If you want to drop me a line with your contact number to talk about this I’ll schedule a call with you. You never know you might actually be surprised at what you can achieve beyond your current cup of instant.