Don’t assume that the recipient of your message has the same level of context and/or understanding as you do.

I experienced two things today that illustrate the point.

The first one, in a newsletter Mark Creaser, of Entrepreneurs’ Network, telling the story of visiting a prospect and wanting to log onto their WiFi network.  The password given by the IT guy over the phone was one of those lovely computer generated ones, full of upper cases, lower cases, numbers and special characters. It did not work. Call the IT guy back, check the password, still not go. Eventually the IT guy came and entered the password himself, and it worked.

Why? In giving the password over the phone, the IT guy in his IT language had used the words 'open bracket' when in fact what was meant was 'open square bracket'. 

The IT guy was saying one thing, the recipient understood another.

This sort of misunderstanding is very common in cross cultural situations.

I had an interesting meeting this morning in which both French and English were spoken. The French client, speaking in his rather good English, used the word ‘concept’. As the discussion continued, it became clear that he had used the word in the French sense, meaning a mental representation of an object, whereas in English it means an abstract idea remaining at the planning or intention stage; the English might have been ‘the idea behind…’.

You may say something, but does the recipient of your message really understand what you are saying?

More often than not, straight translation can be misleading and localising your message for your target is therefore essential.

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