Multicultural Marketing

Multicultural Marketing

How do you work with people who can't speak your language?

It sounds impossible, but it's not. I've interviewed people from so many different cultural backgrounds and sometimes they don't even speak my language.

As a human, it is possible to communicate with someone from a totally different background to yourself, because most of our cues in communication are non verbal. You can clearly see if someone is upset, happy, telling you something of importance to them, or changing as a result of your interview. You can see if they are comfortable or not comfortable and most importantly whether or not they trust you.

I have interviewed people as far afield and in language as Nanjing massacre survivors to Ukrainian Genocide survivors, people who have suffered traumatic experiences including refugees, people who had disability affect their lives, war survivors and veterans, people who have lost family members, to people living with dementia, gambling, cancer - all in the different languages and diversity you would expect.

The main point to take away is that trust is the most important part of your interview. Establishing that is about being able to invest in your interview, ensuring and going to real lengths to show that you aren't better than your interviewee or more knowledgeable and remembering they are the experts in their story - it's their story after all. Key to establishing good trust is keeping the eye contact and showing through your own eyes that you understand. A way to do that is in mirroring expressions, if the person smiles, you smile back. You are on your toes and you are acutely aware of the non verbal signals they are sending you.

Of course you work with people who understand the language to ask your question and interpret for you, but you must always address the person yourself if you are doing the interview. There have been occasions when the person is clearly uncomfortable and would prefer to speak and be interviewed by their community member or interpreter, and you follow that lead.

There have been times when the power of the interview has hit us the crew BEFORE we knew what was being said. This is the power of human connection. If you are in tune you will see the benefits of an important interview for you and for the interviewee who is sharing their gift, their story with you.

Sandra Pires is a Multiplatform Producer and Director specialising in Multicultural Marketing and Australian History with international links.
2016 Best Small Business Winner in National Multicultural Marketing Awards


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Monday, 30 November 2020