Friday, March 12, 2010

A Linguistic Lesson

Language is a powerful tool. Speaking the right language at the right time can be the difference between life and death, or success and failure, or most often - a misunderstanding.

In the world of all things luxe, knowing how to say "hello", "goodbye", "thank you", "welcome", and "have a good day" in a handful of languages can definitely position an associate above other less culturally aware employees.

I'm not saying that every employee should speak a handful of languages. But in today's market, especially considering the current economic realities, a staff that collectively speaks a few languages is incredibly valuable.

I remember back fondly of my times working at Dior when I would greet potential clients in their native language, or thank them and bid them a fabulous day. Instantly, when a client hears their language, especially when they don't speak much English - they trust you more, have more affinity and fondness towards working with you, and are in a much better mood. Going out of your way to learn a few phrases literally translated to thousands of dollars in revenue.

Thinking about language in luxury, I got to thinking about language in general. I wonder - why is it that in our own language, we create new names for countries and cities? Don't you think we should call a place the same name that the people who are from or live in that place call it? Italians refer to their capital as "Roma, Italia", not "Rome, Italy". Or the people from the Republic of Korea call their country Dae Han Min Guk (大韩民国).

Maybe it would be a sign of cultural respect. Imagine a global globe - one with the proper names of each country listed. Maybe I like thing streamlined and efficient. What do you think?

No comments: