How to deal with communication barriers

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Just want to share the things we’ve learned from this latest deal we have closed  at The Lerato.

If you are not a linguist and cannot avoid renting out a property to foreigners who hardly speaks English or can’t speak common language at all, here’s some tips based on my experience. They will usually have a translator with them but in a situation where the translator is also having a hard time it’s good to keep these tips in mind.

In this deal, the client can only speak mandarin. How I really wish I can speak mandarin, but according to google it’s the hardest language in the planet. So yeah, forget about learning mandarin.

By the way, this is my 3rd deal with the same situation.

So here are the things to keep in mind:

Keep your terms simple. Avoid complicated payment terms and condition. For the payment terms, use a spreadsheet to lay out the date, the amount, to whom the checks will be written to and where each checks will be applied to. Numbers and dates is a universal language.

When they are having a discussion in their language. Look curious, but don’t frown. Looking curious will encourage them to include you in the conversation. If they don’t just simply ask.

Speak slowly. Speak simple words and avoid jargon or sophisticated words.

It’s handy to have a pen and paper beside you so you can illustrate things visually. e.g. draw something and put an “X” to emphasize it’s not allowed or illustrate that “there is no need”. Use arrows to illustrate relations and associations.

Be cautious of your facial expression and tone of voice. Talk in a calm manner and be pleasant. A negative facial expression or tone of voice can ruin rapport.

Make sure you send the lease agreement in advance so they have enough time to review. It’s better that the questions and answers about the lease agreement are done via email and in an organized bulleted format. Answering those verbally and impromptu can cause a lot of misunderstanding later on. Make sure all questions are already addressed before agreeing to meet up for contract signing. Use google docs so they can easily comment within the document

Have the important condo rules and regulation translated in Mandarin then have them sign it.

They usually don’t know how things are done here in PH so dont assume there are certain things that are already understood.

Post dated checks, copy of passport and ACR ID is a must.

Be at your center always. Be confident and respectful. Don’t look like a push over. Believe me this will earn trust in spite of language barriers.

In case I’m forgetting something, I’ll just add it later.

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