Authenticity and sincerity more important than ‘perfect English’, says businessman George Goh



Mr Goh was also asked about finding and working with business partners in other countries, which led to a discussion on language barriers.

“If you cannot sell by language, it doesn’t matter,” he told the audience. “Sometimes don’t need to speak perfect English, okay? It’s more authentic. If you speak perfect English, you cannot get the deal one.

“When you want to sell to a billionaire, don’t speak too well,” he said, adding that showing good character and a sound understanding of the business’ cost structure are more important.

“They want to know whether you’re (an) honest guy or not … So your body language becomes very important, and your pitch, sincerity, very important. To win people’s heart, you have to be very sincere.”

Later, asked by reporters whether he felt his English proficiency would be an issue if he were to represent Singapore on the international stage as President, Mr Goh disagreed.

“As a businessman, I mean, we have to master not only one language. We have to master a few,” he said. “Now, if the language is the barrier, how can we go so far? How can we convince 50, 60 brands’ international owners to trust in us?”

He said that there are other ways to show sincerity.

“At some point in time people will know whether you tell the truth, because they look (in) your eye, they look at the way you talk, they will know, I can do business with you, I can trust you. This is important,” he said.

“Of course if you can speak well, it’s good. But without the rest, sincerity … even people look at you they know – I cannot trust you, I know this man can talk very well but he cannot perform, so no point.”


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