Integrity

Here in the UK, it is the day of our general election and this latest “buzz word” has become one of the most over-, and misused, words during a dirty and personal campaign. One where honesty and morals were certainly not on the top of everyone’s agenda. Not surprisingly then, upon hearing someone tell you how honest and moral they are, your initial reaction is one of mistrust. Politicians certainly have a lot to answer for!

But is it just politicians who are to blame? No, is the short answer. They are the ones who are “en vogue” right now but just a short step back in time provides us with evidence of other “supposable” reputable groups of people doing the exact same thing. Bankers, the Police, Lawyers, Priests, Kings, Queens, celebrities, in fact, the list goes on and on and all of whom have somehow been entangled in some reputation damaging scandal that has resulted in mistrust. We’ve created a whole new generation of scepticism.

In my industry, as a language service provider, we too have had our fair share of scandal and bad press. You don’t have to do too much Googling to uncover some highly amusing bad translations, warring factions within a company causing irreparable damage to it and its ultimate demise, and stories of rabbits becoming accredited court interpreters. Is there any wonder then, when a sales person, who also carries with them a professional stigma too, approaches somebody about being able to help them with their language needs that they get a very frosty response? It is, quite frankly, a difficult one to overcome. Especially as within this industry there is a very strong human bias in the final delivery of the service. Linguists, Project Managers, File Technicians, Vendor Management Teams, Salespeople and then all the usual company administration teams, all mean that, at some point, mistakes are inevitable. Therefore a strong emphasis on how you, as a company and a salesperson, deal with these human errors is something that can truly distinguish you from your peers.

It is herein that the word integrity is of real value! Do you have an integrity DNA strand in your professional and personal lifeline?

In a world where social media places your life on public display, it can be very easy for somebody to take a look at what you’re saying and doing almost 24/7. In fact, when somebody doesn’t have a social media presence, they are often seen as “wanting to hide something”. So here’s the rub, whenever you’re online, be that on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or wherever, you have to be aware that this is going to become your digital DNA, both as a person and as a company. If integrity doesn’t shine through here, then you might as well have a 1-star review on Amazon.

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

A new world of risk within Europe

Over the last 20 years businesses in Europe have become very comfortable, with corporate risk being established as low and indeed very low in some countries. Most of the middle and senior management teams over the last 20 years have rarely had to make decisions that could seriously impact their company when choosing a European export destination and as a consequence have opted for this easy track and become risk complacent. However with a new wave of politics sweeping across the globe this is no longer the case and our safe havens of Europe have taken on a shaky existence.
I am myself a victim of this. Believe it or not, because most of my income can be deemed as coming from a non-sterling source (more specifically the Euro) all the main mortgage lenders here in the UK won’t include this income in the “safe and regular finances” category and as a consequence we currently can’t get a new mortgage. All this despite paying full UK taxes as a UK registered company.
Bizarrely, for those who have not been keeping up to speed with the happenings across the globe, the safe havens of outward investment and export communities are no longer where you would think they would be. Typically the UK has looked to Germany, France, Holland, Ireland, the USA etc as their safe export locations. This recent shift in politics has warped this so much that investors and risk analysts alike now have a preference towards the Middle East, Far East, South America and Africa- (Mozambique and Nigeria to name but two).

So what does this mean for you?

Increasingly the financial stability of the West is being seen as “unstable to severely unstable” depending on which risk factors you include, but what is clear is that “business as usual” no longer applies. 20 years of risk adversity and a distinct lack of risk assessment expertise (the type where you don’t push in a bunch of data into a software program and repeat that well know satirical phrase “computer says no!”) all means that a large persuasion of modern companies are struggling to make decisions and this is killing both productivity as well as company growth. Being able to review a situation and all the data involved and then making a “gut instinct” choice of direction, instead of relying solely on a software package is going to be a step backwards in some people’s eyes. But in reality it is going to be a breath of fresh air to those of us who both know and still believe that it is people who do business and not computers. Good old fashioned common sense is going to make a glorious comeback over the coming months and so if your intuition and instinct has been dumbed down by technology then you may need to just start fine tuning it again as the road ahead is going to need it.

So here’s my first 3 questions:

  • Have you reviewed your risk exposure?
  • Have you opened yourself up to explore new export markets yet?
  • Are all the eggs you have in a newly labelled “unstable basket”?
Exporting can significantly improve your business growth and bottom line profit but knowing where to start and who to speak to about it can be almost as challenging as exporting itself. So if you want to understand more about how to reach outside of the European comfort zone then get in touch.
TGL

English is our lingua franca

It has always been somewhat of a mainstay objection which I come across when talking to potential clients about their need for linguistic services, that English is the company’s lingua franca and therefore all their training and internal documentation is done in English.

How shocking then to see that in one such industry sector (Aviation) that over a 1000 deaths can be attributed to miscommunication between native speaking English air-traffic controllers and non native speaking pilots. Read more here

It was a Harvard Business Report which highlighted this to me in an article last November Upon a more detailed scrutiny of the data there’s actually an alarming amount of non-conscious (I hope at least) arrogance running through the whole idea that everyone in business speaks English. My hat however is most deservedly doffed to the German trade unions, who’s country fair quite highly in the list of proficient English speakers in the work place, but who insist that delivery of company learning material to their German work forces is in German regardless of the level of their English competency.

In fact when I made the decision to study in Germany way back in the mid 90s I was told that before I could embark upon that journey in my chosen subject matter I would have to attain a mark that was within the top 2% in Germany in German, Mathematics and English ; and to do this I personally had to go to night school for nearly 4 years. Fortunately my many sleepless nights were worth it and I managed to get the prerequisite grades required. This level of minimum requirements felt pretty harsh at the time, but I was being retrained by, and entirely funded by, the Union so they weren’t going to just let anyone do it.

All of this is quite eye-opening but what I found most interesting about the results from the Harvard study was not  just the lack of English competency across the board, but the alarmingly low scores in the industry sectors where I repeatedly hear the objection that English is the lingua franca of that industry.

I can personally see that, in light of the recent politic shifts, a new wave of language standards are on the horizon; with many countries from across the globe taking on the German principles that in order to do business with them, although you may be able conduct every meeting in English, when it comes down to documentation and finalising of the contracts then they will want it  all in their own language, bitte!

Now we don’t want any miscommunication now do we?

TGL

Terry’s Takeaway 2016-10-10

Politics can stop you from living life:

I have always believed that I have a healthy interest in politics. Micro, macro local, national and international no matter where you look there is something political going on and living in the belief that you should be informed to make a voting decision; I’ve kept myself up to speed with most things that are going on.

More recently though, things have changed.  I have found myself getting uptight, angry, annoyed, in fact, outraged at the way our political landscape is shaping up. Not just here in the UK but the world over. It has absorbed me and I can’t listen to anything without finding myself ranting on about how people should educate themselves before being allowed to tick the box or how can the politicians just lie like that without being held to account….

…..BUT STOP isn’t that the whole point of democracy? Freedom of speech, the free will of the people, the right to exercise your democratic right in a voting system designed to be fair, which express the wishes of those who can be bothered to turn out and put their “X” in the box of their choosing (again their choice to go out or not).

So what good is this ranting and raving doing me? Why should I actually care about what others do? Why, in fact, should I flesh out the content of my social media posts with political rants in a partisan attempt to inform the unwitting/ unwilling of the mistakes, I believe, they are making for not voting the same way I do? Yes WHY?

My sales idol Anthony Iannarino has been talking for years about discarding politics out of my daily routine and this is one of those elements which I’ve found so difficult to do.  But here’s the thing, and I have to thank Anthony for this because it is only due to his words that I’ve come around to this way of thinking. If I want to influence the outcome of an election then I should become a politician. I should set out my stall, lay down my values and preach them to the world.  Those who agree will vote for me and those who don’t, wont. As I’m not a politician, nor do I want to be one, then I should not be doing their job for them. Why, if they’re not reaching the wider public like they should be, should I feel compelled to do it for them?

I would dearly like for the world to be a better place for my children to grow up into and I would dearly like for large swathes of society to hold the same beliefs I hold about the environment, human rights, sexism, equality …the list goes on. The thing is, people are different, beliefs are different and though I strongly believe that I hold a very strong and moral high ground  on some issues that does not mean to say that it is right in other people’s eyes.

So here’s my vow.

For the sake of my own sanity, to stop the unadulterated filling of my social media feeds and so I can get on with my own job and not do that of a politicians; I will no longer get involved in politics.

This includes micro, macro, local, national and world politics. You all have the same level of access to information that I have so read it if you want, leave it if you don’t. I know how I feel about things, and on certain issues I will stand up to be counted if there is a need to do so, but I am no longer going to allow politics to get in the way of life.