With the personal experience of having my point not only lost in translation but coming off as a complete idiot, I was frustrated with the impression I was leaving a Japanese colleague. My mistake was that I got paired up with a Japanese translator that didn’t have an accounting background. And let’s say that I got nowhere with that person’s help until a new colleague came along that had the expertise I was looking for. Trust me when I say this: that the difference was night and day.
To save you the same hassles I went through, follow these 4 tips to help with your hunt for a competent translator:
1.) Experience in your field is necessary
This can make or break your first impression if your Japanese interpreter has no knowledge on how to convey your arguments and terminology to the other party. You just might as well recite Shakespeare because it’s going to fall on deaf ears. And even if your translator has the best of intentions, it doesn’t necessarily matter because that person will fail to deliver. So make sure your interpreter has experience in your field to be able to translate the same terms into their language for you.
Look for someone that can actually speak like a native or at a near-native level in your language. Your interpreter needs to understand the full context of what you’re trying to say before they translate for you. And the only way to gauge this is to talk to that person directly. Don’t leave it to a company to decide for you.
3.) Has experience abroad
Whether this is experience living overseas or just working at an international company with Non-Japanese, you want someone with enough understanding of your culture to smooth things over just in case any misunderstandings may arise. For example, a majority of Japanese favor soft-spoken and reserved personalities. If you happen to be either more assertive or outspoken, this may be a culture shock to the other party. So having a translator with international experience can go a long way to help bridge the gap between your culture and theirs.
4.)Not afraid to get your point across
Someone with the willingness to translate the full context of what you’re trying to say is not easy. Many Japanese are tactful communicators and can talk around the issue before getting to the point or –worst case scenario– not addressing it at all. Which may lose the impact of your wording if you’re going for a more direct impact. For an interpreter to do this, your person has to be willing to really support you, so try to ask several translation companies if you can do a brief interview with your potential translator before you come to a final decision.