Having a translator with you is the best way to ensure a verbal miscommunication doesn't happen, and if it does is the quickest way to make sure the situation gets resolved. Translators not only have a good grasp on their language, but both cultures as well. They are great people to turn to if you have any questions on the other culture and have a better understanding on what would be considered offensive and what would be taken as a kind gesture.
Taking the time before a meeting with someone from another culture would be to observe people in the area. Getting a good grasp on how the locals normally interact will give you a good idea on what a normal relationship looks like. Sometimes this can also provide valuable information on some things to avoid doing, such as gestures or certain kinds of greetings. Some cultures you don't want to shake hands with as they are uncomfortable with physical contact, some cultures would prefer a full hug with kisses on both cheeks even if this is the first meeting and would be insulted with evasion of physical contact.
As strange as it sounds, minimizing the amount of gestures you make can be an enormous help. Or at least until you can learn what gestures are approprioate and what are not. Some gestures, as harmless as they may be in our culture, can be extremely offensive to others. It can be even more so than our most offensive gesture. Sometimes actions really do speak louder than words, best not to start off with the wrong ones.
Questionably Translated Writing
This sounds like common sense, but if you are reading writing from another language and it turns out extremely choppy or off, check your sources. It could be these words don't exist in our language, or it could be a terrible translation in regards to who did the translating. A good way to check is to try a few websites that can translate and the majority is usually right. The best way would to be to find someone who speaks and reads that language and ask them to translate, if the words don't exist in your language, they are much better at paraphrasing or explaining what it actually means.
Sometimes if you use the wrong gesture or say the wrong words it is just best to apologize and explain what you meant. Explaining whatever you did/said means in your culture can help the situation too. They may not have a good understanding of what your culture is like just as much as you to theirs. Most people are forgiving to people from other cultures as long as you are trying to understand what their culture is like. This doesn't mean in France you have to learn French to be accepted, it could also be that you took the time and effort to understand what is normal and polite to create a positive relationship.
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