by Diego Nascimento

In 2005 I had the chance to start my ongoing journey as a translator.  I was still taking my first steps in improving my English as a Second Language, but the opportunity made me aware of communication as the main element in human relations. Since then translation of meetings, lectures, classes and even speeches is a part of my life.

Regardless of the number of people present in the audience, my obligation is to be as faithful as possible to convey the message. The task is challenging. I need quick thinking to hear the phrase in English, adapt the content to Portuguese, decode the best meaning for the audience and finally be the voice for that information. All of this in just a matter of seconds. Without a doubt it is a big responsibility. Imagine now professional translators working in international meetings and summits. A slip of information could lead to World War III (ha, ha).

It is in this spirit of “being understood” that I am evaluating how I speak with people throughout the day, especially in my mother tongue. We all know that your tone can cause someone to be drawn to you or to be put off. But for some time I have become aware that our “tone” in written communication has the same effect. Even if we are not using inappropriate or rude words, the way we address a subject can cause people to misunderstand what they are reading.  Be careful when sending text messages or emails, using social networks or cell phones. They are electronic devices that do not have the ability to “speak” for you. None of them have any feelings. I have seen cases in which a simple written message caused big relationship problems.

We are lifelong interpreters; our excitement levels can create/build on opportunities or cause us do dive down deep off of cliffs that cannot be scaled. This can occur in the home, at work, at school, in traffic, in the supermarket line. If you think that a message you might sent will result in some discomfort to the recipient or to the sender, I suggest you talk face-to-face or at least talk over the phone (voice). We are human beings, and our heart is moved with emotions.

Technology exists to be used. You are reading this written message (now) exactly for this reason. It is the subject content and/or the way we use tools that can cause a “fire” of major proportions. Wherever you are, remember one thing: “There are words that pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  Proverbs 12:18.

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