We now know that bilingualsupervisors have an enormous impact on benefits understanding andutilization.  However, they are not prepared to giveadvice on this topic, and often wind up providing misleading,incomplete, or outright incorrect information.  However,they feel an obligation either to their teams or to their employers(or to both), so they try.  What can we do about this?

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Well, the pressure on them to be experts is compoundedtremendously when they are asked to present benefits information inSpanish.  Even if they are just interpreting for anEnglish-speaking presenter, they are still standing up in front ofa group of people providing information on a topic they know verylittle about.  If a word or term comes up that they don'tfully understand, they may be very reluctant to ask forclarification, especially there in front of everyone. They are perceived as an authority who speaks English, and pausingthe PowerPoint to ask what “out-of-pocket maximum” really means maywell cause them to lose face.

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In addition, this supervisor might not be comfortable withpublic speaking and might simply want this torturous experience tobe over as soon as possible (many of us would rather get root canalthan speak in front of an audience).  So rather thanasking for clarification, she will just say repeat the Englishword, roll her r's, put the accent in a different place, and ploughahead.

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Pointer A for how to support your bilingualsupervisors in benefits communication is: Don't do this. It sends the wrong message to everyone and undermines your hardwork.

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Tune in soon for Light Bulb Moment#10!

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Melissa Burkhart is the founder and president of FuturoSólido, which provides a wide variety of Spanish language services,including written translation, on-site interpretation, and languageinstruction. They have successfully served such industries asfinance, insurance, landscaping, construction, manufacturing,health care, non-profit, and hospitality. To learn more,visit www.futurosolidousa.com.

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