How I Communicate
One of the aspects of international business that interests me most is the ability to communicate across both cultural and language barriers while maintaining the integrity and nuances of the original message. For this reason, I have dedicated a large part of my academic life to studying different languages and have achieved fluency in English, Spanish, and French, with Italian being my first language. Furthermore, to push myself outside the comfort zone of the romance languages, I spent a semester learning some of the basics of Mandarin Chinese and intend to continue pursuing mastery of this idiom as I believe it will be increasingly important to be able to conduct business across the globe.
My motivation for putting so much emphasis on studying foreign languages stems from having personally witnessed the marked difference between communicating with someone from a foreign country in English compared to doing so in their mother tongue. The most obvious example of this was a little experiment I ran while studying abroad in France. I noticed that if I started a dialogue in English, my conversation partner tended to be more standoffish and was more likely to employ a condescending tone. However, if I spoke to them in French, we had a much more pleasant conversation and they were more likely to open up about themselves, be personable, and give me accurate directions if needed, despite the fact that they often noticed my unusual accent. Albeit anecdotal, this experience showed me that speaking a foreign language is important not only to be understood, but also to show the other person that you are actively trying to connect with them and see things from their point of view.
The lessons I learned in my language classes and my experiences abroad have taught me that a language is much more than a simple means to exchange messages. In fact, a culture’s language contains many contextual clues that, if misconstrued, can completely change the meaning of what is being said. As such, if one wants to conduct business across cultural barriers, it is pivotal to learn the local language to show good will and build trust with the community that is supposed to help the venture succeed.
Where I’ve Learned It
What I've Learned
Where I've been
I have had the honor and the opportunity to amass several formative international experiences, both in and outside of the classroom. The earliest and most impactful of these has been being born and raised in Rome, as I have lived there until my teenage years. Growing up in the Italian capital gave me tremendous insight into the economy of a European country and taught me some key characteristics of the Italian way of doing business, such as the importance of rhetoric in human interaction or the prioritization of networking, which are different from the more direct type of communication and result-based practices common in the United States. However, my international experiences extend well beyond my adolescent years.