Or: how come I don’t know you?
One of the most common things I hear from the latest client is: How am I only now hearing about you?
First of all, even if you live in a tiny country and a miniature town (Hot Fuzz joke placeholder because nobody will get “The greater good” reference) which only gets smaller once you realise that the most frequent question for a woman in her 30’s is: “And who was your father/brother/husband, again?” there is still a good chance you will go under general public’s radar if you insist on keeping your nose buried in books, and second of all when you are a translator/interpreter not being heard of just means you haven’t messed up on a large enough scale. Seriously… try to remember an occasion in which the interpreter or the translator were at the centre of attention without something going horribly wrong. Who are the most famous interpreters/translators you have heard of? Daničić? Haruki Murakami? Borges, perhaps? Bear in mind that there are five or six different things associated with their names before you even get to the bit about translating.
Maybe you will remember that sign language interpreter from Nelson Mandela’s funeral. What is the one thing you know about him? Exactly, he was terrible and had no idea what he was doing. If a translator/interpreter is famous it often has nothing to do with translating or interpreting and when it does it usually isn’t for anything good.
Most people view translators and interpreters as a necessary evil. In essence, if we can be avoided, we are and at all cost. The negotiations take forever, are a pain to go through and payments are accompanied by unpleasantries more often than acceptable. As of late it has been getting more difficult since everyone who finds the lyrics to the latest Beyonce song intelligible immediately becomes absolutely certain they can deal with the intricacies of Matrimonial Law. The only set of circumstances in which you will have no problems is when the client has already tried handling everything on their own, failed due to miscommunication, made peace with the lack of linguistic prowess and in the end decided that the cheapest option is hiring a professional. In every other situation expect to be treated as a sinister entity from creepypasta.
You find the clients by contacting them first, and once you are faced with the inevitable “I didn’t know there were any interpreters/translators in this town!” you can say “Yes! And since we are talking, here are some of my clients who can attest to that.” Always ask clients with whom you have a good professional experience for a recommendation or testimony contact. Most of them say they would be honoured to give you a recommendation.
You should know that doesn’t mean they will be recommending you immediately if someone asks for an interpreter. Don’t take it personally. Do I mind if somebody hires another interpreter? Honestly, no. Everyone has their own reason for working with one individual and not the other; sometimes is about the price, sometimes is about the quality of service and sometimes with a personality type and that si ok. We are all human and we do not always agree or get along. So, if my services don’t meet your requirements, it is only expected that you as the client will look elsewhere.
Such is the nature of the job. On the other hand, you have the same right to not accept work from certain clients – I know we all want to work and make a living, but I believe you shouldn’t accept work under terrible conditions just because you think that nothing better is available to you. At the risk of sounding like a self-help book: There is always something better; and there is always something worse – there is also the possibility you will get that worse. The important thing is just moving on. Give it your best and refuse to settle and accept the status quo.
Ok… that’s it for the Life Coaching in this text. The point of the tale is: if you want to be a translator or an interpreter, accept the fact that people will largely ignore your existence and that is a good thing.
Manchi tu nell’aria!