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Continue working with an agency with whom I have behaved unprofessionally?
Thread poster: skyblue

skyblue  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:55
Member (2006)
English to Korean
+ ...
Jun 22, 2007

For 15 years, I worked for three very generous companies. They were all extremely employee-oriented. Now I am all alone working by myself as a freelancer. I am professional when it comes to work quality. But I feel I am not so when I talk with clients.

For example, I have been working for this wonderful agency for the past five months. They are a young company and I think they are still figuring out which ways work best for them and for us translators. Inevitably, there were occasions that things didn't go as well as I wish. Of course, I try to do my best without any complaint at first. But when the problem becomes too stressful on me, oh, well, shame on myself, I explode... I did about five times so far I like the people in the agency and I find their projects quite interesting. Just sometimes, their estimates about hours are quite off so I often end up putting twice more than the assigned hours. I just try to finish my job quietly at first, but after a while, I explode... I know that if I calmly explain the situation to the agent, they will do their best to resolve the issues.

Anyway, my question is "Should I continue working with them?" I have enough high paying clients. So loosing one regular client is not what I am afraid of. When you feel that you've been bad to someone, although not intended, you just don't feel comfortable whenever you meet this person. That is what I am feeling now when working with this client. Again, the people in the agency are very pleasant to work with and I love the projects. But I am in the situation that I need to drop a few clients any way. I love all of them, though....

I like to do my very best once I choose to work for a client. And I tend to feel depressed if I cannot provide the highest quality service I want. With this client, I don't feel proud of my service to them. I am not sure whether it is because of the circumstance or because of my ability.



[Edited at 2007-06-22 17:09]


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:55
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
You've answered your own question Jun 22, 2007

Seems you WANT to drop them.
Then again, they might be so fed up with the outbursts that they'll drop YOU. It's a two-way street.
Catherine


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 18:55
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Two way street, indeed Jun 22, 2007

The company is willing to keep on an translator who has behaved unprofessionally - but you are wondering if you should take the easy way out and just drop them to avoid being reminded of your own behaviour - of which you are ashamed?

I think you need to ask yourself two questions:
Is this the way you want to go on in your professional career?
If so, do you think clients and work will always be in abundant supply, so you can drop them when you want to?

Do you want to develop a different attitude?
Perhaps it would be better if you could state your point in a calm and matter-of-fact way when you have differences with your employers? If so, you need to work on this, perhaps with professional help.

Running away from problems is never the answer in the long run.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:55
Dutch to English
+ ...
Try an anger management course ... Jun 22, 2007

... which appears to be the main and underlying issue, and then consider what to do as far as particular clients are concerned.



[Edited at 2007-06-22 16:44]


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 13:55
Portuguese to English
+ ...
You could apologize... Jun 22, 2007

Hi skyblue...whether you end up working with them or not, it would be nice to call them and apologize for the outbursts. You'll feel better, too.

Amy


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:55
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Nothing beats a sincere apology Jun 22, 2007

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

... which appears to be the main and underlying issue, and then consider what to do as far as particular clients are concerned.



[Edited at 2007-06-22 16:44]


I agree - but you seem to be half way to "anger management" already in that you've admitted you behaved badly and obviously want to do something about it.
In my opinion, nothing beats a *sincere* apology. Why not write to the agency, or telephone, and say pretty much what you've said here - that you feel bad about how you behaved, that you really enjoyed working for them and will try to "reform"?
On the other hand, if you don't want to go on working for them, tell them so politely and apologetically. Remember, the day may come when you don't have so many clients and would welcome working for them again - as these forums show, there are plenty of eager newcomers on the block just waiting to take your place.
Kind regards,
Jenny.


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Anita Cassidy  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2005)
English to German
what does the agency think? Jun 22, 2007

So you regret your behaviour towards this agency. But you don't mention whether they actually mind your so-called 'outbursts'. If they keep contacting you for work, they may think everything is fine.

You also say that you need to drop a few clients because you have enough work as it is and don't need to depend on low-paying ones. Well, you're obviously doing something right in that case!

If you honestly feel that you've personally insulted someone at the agency, then my advice would be to apologise to that person. Otherwise, just wait and see if they contact you for more work and then just be very clear from the start about how much time you think will be required to do the job and how much you want to charge. Maybe your 'anger' stems more from poor communication at the start of projects?

You say you really like the jobs they give you, so maybe money isn't such a big issue here either? Sometimes it's nice to be working on really enjoyable and interesting projects even if the pay isn't what one might get for other, more boring stuff (provided we're not talking about completely laughable rates)...

All the best
Anita


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:55
Swedish to English
+ ...
Or deep breathing Jun 22, 2007

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

... which appears to be the main and underlying issue, and then consider what to do as far as particular clients are concerned.



[Edited at 2007-06-22 16:44]


I have a habit of taking at least three deep breathes before responding to any communication from a client. Has saved me from a lot of "Oh my God, what have I done" moments.


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skyblue  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:55
Member (2006)
English to Korean
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not running away from my own shortcomings Jun 22, 2007

Well, everytime after my outbursts, I apologized. The first time, I thought I would never behave like that again. I was confident that I would not repeat such a behavior in the future. The first three times my outbursts were pretty bad and for sure I annoyed them. Then the last two times, I managed to behave a little better although not completely calm yet. It is possible that they didn't even notice my outbursts in these two cases. Maybe it is just I who thinks there is any problem in this relationship. Still, to me it seems too late to recover the relationship. Anyway, I cannot apologize to them any more... My apologies would not mean anything to them... As soon as they find somebody to replace me, they will. That day will come sooner or later.

My problem is that I feel quite uncomfortable working for this client, since I know that they don't 'love me any more". I like to feel loved. I need that feeling and that is an important factor that makes me work super hard. I feel I cannot have such rewarding feeling with this client any more.

Right now, I am trying to expand my business beyond just translation. Everything looks rosy, except my fluctuating emotion. I am excited about these business opportunities. Maybe working too many hours and some family problems, all these have been playing here. As Hilde advised, I won't run away from my own shortcomings. I won't drop this client by my choice. I will just wait until they drop me soon. Meanwhile I have to live with this uncomfortable and unrewarding feeling, hopefully I learn from this experience... I tend to be able to calm myself down only after bursting myself out.

[Edited at 2007-06-22 19:33]


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:55
Dutch to English
+ ...
Love? Jun 22, 2007

I presume by this you mean feeling "needed" or "in demand".

Well, sorry to burst the bubble, but it's a business relationship driven by supply and demand, of the economic nature, not your specific need for external validation and praise.

It isn't a popularity contest, it's at best about getting paid a decent rate on time for something you hopefully enjoy doing.

Sure it's nice to hear you did a great job from time to time, but don't hold your breath - you know whether you did or not and if you keep on getting work it means you're viewed as reliable in terms of deadlines and having the correct price/quality ratio.

Likewise, if something upsets you, says so immediately - if the agency has made a genuine mistake, they'll be happy to correct it and you won't waste time and energy building up steam like Mt. Edna.

If they are trying to pull a fast one and act cagily, you'll know what you're dealing with and can send them packing. Again no time or energy lost.

But by acting the way you do, they already know "oh, she'll blow and then calm down again". They don't get educated in the process or change and you get the undesirable tag of being unstable.

And the translation business is a small world, word gets around quickly, ...

Think about it.

PS: My advice - Although I agree with what Jenny says in general, forget the apologies in your case - by now they are falling on deaf ears because of your repetitive behaviour.

Just be firm, from now on, about your conditions from the outset of each job, continue to provide good work, on deadline, and they've got no reason to replace you - in time, your outbursts will put down to teething problems and forgotten.



[Edited at 2007-06-23 14:38]


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skisteeps
Canada
Local time: 09:55
English to Polish
+ ...
If they annoy you and you have a full, decently paying worklod, dump them. Jun 22, 2007

I don't see a point in splitting a hair in four. They have behaved unprofessionally, as well. They have tried to steal your money by not paying you the actual rates they agreed upon. You must be well regarded by your other clients, so focus on them as they will appreciate your commitment and quality of your work. If I were you, I would have dumped them at a drop of the hat and never looked back after having collected my last receivables. Don't let them sap your energy and wear you out.
Good luck with your other, more rewarding endeavours.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 11:55
English to Russian
+ ...
Some things just do not add up Jun 22, 2007

skyblue wrote:
Just sometimes, their estimates about hours are quite off so I often end up putting twice more than the assigned hours. I just try to finish my job quietly at first, but after a while, I explode...


Dear skyblue, you have 15 years of experience and they are "a young company". How come you accept something like this in the first place? It might sound arrogant but after 15 years of experience I can calculate the required completion time for 10-15K words with an accuracy of half a day, and up to an exact hour of the day for 1-3K jobs... Reminder - I specialize, no pigs in a poke.


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skyblue  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:55
Member (2006)
English to Korean
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
15 years in different fields Jun 22, 2007

Yes, communication is always hard. My post was long, still not enough to explain the whole situation accurately.

First of all, I worked for 15 years in various different fields including marketing, research, publishing, database, software QA, and now translation. I have been always translating to a certain degree in most of these positions. Still, I wasn't just a translator and it is only recently that I had to care about word count and hours.

Secondly, the jobs this client has given me are mostly not just translation. I have to use a special software tool they provide. Especially, in this recent project, I was asked to test one of their software. It was not even liguistic QA, it was rather functional testing. I don't think they miscalculated the hours intentionally. Even the developpers couldn't really accurately calculate the hours. Only fault they made was that they didn't give max, but min. hours. In such unknown situation, they should have assigned extra hours instead of trying to squeez with as few hours as possible.

Still, I admit if I tried to figure out how many hours, I probably would have come up with a more realistic number than the given one. I know I am not supposed to trust anybody. But with too much workload to handle, sometimes, I just take whatever they tell me. Anyway, once again, I realize that it is important to always check the estimated hours before taking any task.

So far, as a freelancer, I have experienced various ups and downs, and have learned that opportunities always come and go, some I get and some I miss. Even with a good base of regular clients, I always feel insecure a little bit. And now my family situation put me in a great need for money. Still, I have this belief that money will naturally come as long as my quality is superb. So with my regular clients, often I don't think about money, but just concentrate on providing best quality service. I learned that this is not a good business practice, and cuases tensions eventually between me and the client. I have still a lot to learn as an individual business person.

[Edited at 2007-06-23 02:16]


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:55
Dutch to English
+ ...
Take a more pragmatic approach Jun 23, 2007

I have been in the business for 24 years and I also sometimes misjudge delivery times although I, like Irene, also specialise. If I find myself in your situation, I take a more pragmatic approach. Instead of getting angry, I just talk to the customer as if it was not me put just another translator whom I know who is having the difficulties. This ensures that I do not get angry and usually we end up with a win-win situation. I am glad to say it does not happen often.

Just do any jobs from this agency that you can fit in but do not put them on your priority list. You are running a business and not a fan club. They do not have to like or love you just appreciate your professionalism and pay your invoices.


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:55
English to Hungarian
+ ...
To Lawyer-Linguist Jun 27, 2007

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:
...you won't waste time and energy building up steam like Mt. Edna.


I like your Freudian fingers


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