Missing out on business because of lack of language knowledge
20th December 2012, 0 comments
Yes - the Dutch do speak foreign languages, at least we try. That is one of the reasons why The Netherlands has become the successful export country it is today. On holiday we are always praised by the locals, “You speak English/French/German so well!” At least it is good enough for holiday conversation...…
However, research tells us that we are missing out on business because of our lack of language knowledge. For example, 92% percent of Dutch SME traders say they would conduct a higher volume of sales in Germany if their German language would be of a higher quality.* Although we speak the customers’ language and the mistakes we make are often seen as “charming”, most of the time we are not taken seriously when we say: “We want to go into the sea with you” or “Es kommt wohl gut”. Obviously, you might think….but this level of conversation takes place in every board room across the world, every day.
Most international orientated organisations are fully aware of this language issue and many of them consciously employ native language speakers for this reason. They are able to speak in the clients’ language and understand their culture.
Strangely at board room level and in SME’s few or no native speakers are present at all. Can you imagine how many more deals could be won if our CEO’s could be fully understood by our foreign customers? Or how much easier trading with the UK would be if our Prime Minister would only spend a week or two with the nuns in Vught raising his English to a “to be taken seriously” level? It is very bizarre that the always highly trade-minded Dutch overlook this opportunity.
So instead of congratulating ourselves on our great language knowledge, let us be economically smart and use the strength and effectiveness of native speakers on every business level.
Undutchables Recruitment Agency specializes in helping our corporate clients find well-educated, highly experienced international personnel for a wide range of office related vacancies. These vacancies require very specific professional skills, the native command of a language other than Dutch being just one such skill.
For more information please visit our website www.undutchables.nl
Photo credit: Victor1558
*research conducted by the Dutch-German Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with export organisation Fenedex among almost 1700 Dutch entrepreneurs.