A post I wrote for LinkedIn
Break It Down Show Host, Professional Speaker and Cultural Consultant.–What’s your “Ground Truth?”
Everyone is working to create, “partner capacity.” If we are on our game, we are advising and assisting our partners with the intent of improving their condition. This means service members are constantly engaging with local nations through interpreters.
Given that interpreters are a critical node….and considering that we’ve been at “war” for 15 years…it seems that we’d have a professional level capacity for working with and through interpreters…we don’t.
We don’t get this right in the civilian world either. I’ve trained dozens of professionals that work with and through interpreters. These professionals say, they figured out how things worked on their own. Further, they agree that their ability to achieve was compromised. Finally, most of them note that they should have received better training before they ever began engaging foreign partners. These skills matter and directly impact your business…the same holds true for our military.
The training we receive in the military isn’t better, at best it’s outdated and pedestrian. If, and it’s not a certainty, if a service member receives training on using a translator, the class lacks any depth, nor is there a standard. The main point of the training focuses on avoiding being tricked or deceived by your interpreter. While detecting deception is an important consideration; it’s the wrong orientation-a nod to my J Boyd people. Unfortunately, the training doesn’t discuss how to create a positive relationship or rapport with your interpreter. Frankly, we treat interpreters like shit.
Why does this matter?
In modern combat, interpreters are massive force multipliers. Further, when they are not used to their fullest potential, units fail. I can say with confidence that our level of “success” in both Iraq and Afghanistan correlates directly to our inability to leverage interpreters to their potential.
Interpreters are much more than mouthpieces. Their native level understanding of language, culture, religion and social norms are invaluable and something no service members can replicate on their own. I like to say, “You can’t out Iraq an Iraqi.” Whether in combat or in business, we can all learn a lot from Nite Train.
Head over to www.breakitdownshow.com and check out our show with my man Nite Train…he gives us real insight into what it means to support a unit at the highest level…and how fleeting success and stability remain.