Of course this applies to any country you’re working in where you don’t speak the language. I only know a few basic words of Arabic and would have been lost (probably literally) without my translators. Be aware of local dialects as well – I was interviewing many people in the mountains who only spoke the local language of Jabali.
2. Manage your small talk
Small talk is great for breaking the ice and after the interview – but you have asked them for an interview, so crack on!
3. Accept hospitality
It is slightly rude to decline offers of food and drink as a guest, although if you are on your third lunch of the day you may have no choice… In reality you aren’t going to upset anyone but if you are on a tight schedule it is often much quicker to just accept a cup of tea or glass of milk. At least you will keep hydrated!
4. Know your stuff
It’s important to understand the local culture to some extent to get the conversation rolling, find common ground and build rapport. And if you occasionally drop in a line about something the informant would not expect you to know then this can really help to build mutual respect. Don’t overdo it though – you want them to feel helpful. Finally, the better you know your topic, the better you can probe for information.
5. Smile and laugh
Laughing is a universal language that everyone can understand. Most Omani’s are extremely caring and empathetic people and want you to be content at all times. If you’re happy, they’re happy. And if they’re happy then you will have a productive interview.