Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The PSYOP of Interpreters

Unless you are a fluent speaker of your audience’s language, you will likely need an interpreter. While the exigencies of the situation may often mean that you have to settle whoever is available, there are likely to be other times when you might be able to pick an individual whose presence might enhance your overall effectiveness.

A couple of examples will help illustrate. One particularly savvy GO knew he was going into a situation with a high ranking adversary where he wanted to make sure that his opposite number couldn’t fully concentrate. He took the most exquisite young female interpreter he could find knowing that his ‘host’ would not be able to take his eyes off her. While this may sound politically incorrect, the employment of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be a sound technique.

Another example would be ethniticity or religion. Selecting an interpreter that fits in with the audience or one that is ‘opposite’ the audience can be a PSY – Act. Be aware that in this case the phrase opposites attract doesn’t necessarily ring true.

A third perspective is the invisible interpreter. This class of interpreter is skilled in the language, the nuances and the body language, and virtually blends into the woodwork leaving you as the principal in center stage with the audience. A fundamental principle of working with interpreters is you talk through the interpreters, not at them. You talk directly to the other individuals while the interpreter relays your words. Consequently an invisible interpreter can be a major asset.

Each of these alternatives as a place, it’s up to the PSYOP practitioner to pick the right one for the mission and environment at hand.

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