31 May 2013.
Quito. The scenic capital city of Ecuador.
I was at the Hilton Colon to conduct a two-day workshop on ‘Breakthrough Negotiation Skills’ for my client.
Forty eager participants who speak and understand only Spanish. And I had to conduct the session in English.
Luckily my client had arranged two charming and highly qualified interpreters,trained at the United Nations. They sat with me for half an hour to get used to my articulation,pace and pitch.
So, the arrangement was like this. The entire audience and me were wired up with mikes attached to our headphones and every word that I spoke in English would be simultaneously translated into Spanish and their questions to me in English.
All fine so far. But my dilemma being how do I connect with my audience. There was an air of mutual suspicion and the thought of sitting through for two days like this seemed daunting for both of us.
And then the interpreters asked me to share some personal details before commencing the program.
I said,” My wife and I are happily married for 25 years. I am married and she is happy.”
The audience uproariously applauded with laughter. At THAT PRECISE MOMENT, I knew I had connected with them and the two day session turned out to be one of the liveliest, engaging and interactive sessions!
Obviously,the interpreters had done a fabulous job without which all my efforts would have been in vain.
My lesson – Humor is universal. Use it appropriately to overcome geographic and linguistic barriers!