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Off topic: Ever been really angry after a project?!
Thread poster: Paul Adie

Paul Adie  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Spanish to English
+ ...
Feb 8, 2008

Dear fellow ProZians,

I feel I have to write something, as I really am very annoyed, and just want to get some views.

I work in-house for a translation agency in Spain, and today an interesting project popped up - a Spanish company was waiting for a letter of credit from a Russian bank, so they just wanted me to phone up the bank in Russia, find out what was happening, then tell the client. I had forgotten that nothing in Russia is ever that easy, and found myself phoning about 10 different numbers to try and get the information the Spanish client needed. During the final phone call, the Russian person at the other end of the phone just said "I do not have enough time for this conversation, I must go", without resolving anything, giving me endless excuses, and he cut me off! I really was fuming.

Now I am more annoyed than anything else because I didn't really get to the bottom of anything, and the Spanish client has left without knowing more than he started off with, and has had to pay the company for my time.

Ever felt like this? It just really puts me off interpreting, as I know I can do a good job translating (well, to a certain extent, there are going to be doubts), but you may never be able to resolve problems with interpreting. You're just in the middle, stuck between two different viewpoints, and have to actually interact with the people involved. I have to say, this is the first time I've tried anything like this, maybe I've just a bad first experience.

Feel free to write and let off steam!


[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-02-08 15:41]

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Stephanie Diaz
English to Spanish
if it were my responsibility... Feb 8, 2008

i would be very upset if the client didn't get what he paid for because of my mishandling of the situation, lack of experience, lack of knowledge of the situation, etc.

but it seems to me that as you put it you did as much as possible to get the information and it was the other person who didn't want to provide it. that's a key element in communication: willingness to communicate.

some times things are out of our control and it is just not possible to attain certain objetive, not because of a lack of hard effort, but just because it is not in the interpreter's hands to attain it.

interpreting can be very frustrating in that sense and to keep our mental health we must let go what is out of our control.

if you did what you had to do, but still didn't work, let go. next time will be different

[Editado a las 2008-02-08 12:29]

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The Misha
Local time: 20:06
Russian to English
+ ...
Not your fault Feb 8, 2008

Sounds just like the good old country! Let it go, it's not your fault.

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:06
Dutch to English
+ ...
Detachment Feb 8, 2008

Learn to detach yourself from the situation.

Easier said than done, I know. I remember I used to feel the same way when I first started off as a lawyer, many moons ago in South Africa. You harden up over time. I don't mean you end up not giving a damn, or showing disinterest, but you learn to stop letting it all affect you.

You need to develop an invisible "suit of armour". As long as you know you've performed to the best of your ability, there's nothing more to do. That doesn't mean you can't take the initiative and try again Monday, with the client's consent, and be as persistent as necessary.

Just take a deep breath and chalk this up to a bad (but not uncommon) experience.

Have a good weekend regardless, there is nothing to be done further now. If you think you could have done a bit better, resolve not to make the same mistakes next time. Take the good out of the situation and learn from it, but don't let it get to you. You haven't "failed" at anything.

Good luck

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Anne Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:06
Member (2003)
Dutch to English
+ ...
being a frustrated mouthpiece during phone interpreting Feb 12, 2008

I entirely sympathise with your experience. I had a similar experience recently when I interpreted during a series of phone calls spread over several days, when a very patient client needed to obtain information from a public Dutch organisation (information which in my view should be publicly available anyway) and was sent from pillar to post. My client and I met with a host of unhelpful people who claimed not to know the content of evasive emails written in their own name and they continued to put up lots of silly excuses. It is hard, in those circumstances, to remain a passive interpreter and to translate the excuses without making any additional comment, or not to get stroppy with the officials giving you the run-around. After all, I felt responsible for the behaviour of the people speaking my mother tongue. What's more, I would have cut to the chase and been more direct than my patient client. But it is part of the job to remain professional and not to get emotionally involved. Apart from anything else, you only ever see a snapshot rather than the full picture.

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Stephanie Diaz
English to Spanish
good point Feb 12, 2008

Not only we have mental reasons why not to get involved, but also professional ones. Thanks!

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English to Vietnamese
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hear hear Apr 10, 2008

I agree with Stephanie's last point, though it did take me a while to get over a pretty sad interpreting experience I had not too long ago. I remember having to refrain myself from crossing the line and telling the social worker (who hired me) to back off. She was astoundingly insensitive to the family she was having the meeting with. As an immigrant myself, I felt that I understood this family's experience in ways that she didn't, but she made it very clear of not wanting to know them or even trying. I know an interpreter must remain neutral during assignments, but it is hard in such situations...


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