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Top 8 Tips for Working Effectively With Interpreters; Part 2

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This is the second part of our blog top about how to work effectively with interpreters. To read the first 4 tips, go here.

As we discussed in the last post, while CyraCom interpreters are trained professionals who are there to help make communication in another language an easy process, there are a few things you can do to make the whole process run smoothly. We will cover the last 4 tips in today’s blog post:

5 – Speak directly to your patient and make eye contact. Speak in the first person.
Using an interpreter doesn’t mean that care has to be less personal. Our best tip in this area is to speak to your patient as you would without an interpreter. If it is an in-person interpreter, pretend they aren’t even there. If you are communicating via a phone interpreter, try not to look at the phone, but rather directly at your patient as normal. Speak in the first person, not the third. It is much easier and far more effective for an interpreter to interpret first person interactions. Do not say “Tell Mrs. Lin that she her test results look very promising,” but rather, “Mrs. Lin, your test results look very promising.”

6 – Use short but complete sentences.
This one is difficult to get used to at first, but using short sentences will give the interpreter a chance to relay what you are saying effectively. Interpreters may take notes to remember key things you say during a more “long-winded” sentence, but short and complete sentences ensure that no detail is left out.

7 – Avoid slang, jargon or metaphors.
Phrases like “it’s raining cats and dogs” or “on the same page” may not translate very well into other languages. You could end up confusing a patient and affecting their understanding of treatment.  Avoid these scenarios by choosing straightforward words and analogies.

8 – Allow the interpreter to clarify linguistic and cultural issues.
Despite our rigorous interpreter training and qualification, cultural issues may still arise. For example, the Spanish language has many dialects, with different words for the same subject. Bus is normally “autobus” in most Spanish dialects, but in Caribbean Spanish it is “guagua.” If the interpreter notices that the patient is not understanding something adequately, they may ask for a moment to clarify your message with the patient to ensure that they understand. Don’t be concerned if this happens; it can be very helpful for all parties.

Now that you’ve armed yourself with our 8 tips for working effectively with interpreters, you’ll never be afraid to use one again!

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