Own a Business? Beware of False Friends

These words don’t mean what you might think they mean in another language. Some brands have learned that lesson the hard way.

A woman looks thoughtful.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Our stories that discussed learning a foreign language and DEI led to several phone calls from call center and sales supervisors in the worlds of insurance and financial planning.

One pointed out, “The market of people speaking an alphabet soup of languages has greatly increased, and we are concerned about lost sales and reputational damage inadvertently caused by employees who lack cultural competence. We’ve observed some who speak a second language well enough to get into trouble by using the wrong vocabulary — known as false friends, which are words that are identical or resemble each other in both languages but have vastly different meanings.”

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H. Dennis Beaver, Esq.
Attorney at Law, Author of "You and the Law"

After attending Loyola University School of Law, H. Dennis Beaver joined California's Kern County District Attorney's Office, where he established a Consumer Fraud section. He is in the general practice of law and writes a syndicated newspaper column, "You and the Law." Through his column he offers readers in need of down-to-earth advice his help free of charge. "I know it sounds corny, but I just love to be able to use my education and experience to help, simply to help. When a reader contacts me, it is a gift."