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How to be a bearer of bad news?
Thread poster: Vito Smolej

Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 21:08
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Jun 24, 2008

... and keep the proverbial cake as well?

Here's the story, involving for starters me and X. I have met X on ProZ, we collaborated a little here and there and then I asked X to help me out. X agreed, got the sources, missed the first deadline, sent in something in between, did not return calls, etc, so it all ended in a very unprofessional way. I finished the job myself, offered the client a discount to offset the costs of the delay, so that was the end of the story - part I.

Part II: I got a frantic mail from Y, asking about the whereabouts of X, because Y gave X a job to be finished by a week ago, but then X asked for a prolongation, and X is not answering mails since the middle of last week ... Looked distressingly familiar to me.

Now, I helped Y with whatever information I had on hand, but I kept mum about the calamities I had with X. Should I speak out?

Thanks a lot in advance for your comments

Vito


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milinad  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:38
Member (2006)
German to English
non-professional Jun 24, 2008

Yes you should speak out. Why should non professional behavior be encouraged even if the person is your friend. Keeping mum might encourage him further, on the other hand speaking out might prompt him to mend his ways.

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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:08
Dutch to English
+ ...
Yes, speak out Jun 24, 2008

I don't see how you have a choice. If you don't tell Y and Y finds out afterwards that you had similar problems, Y will probably think that you are not very professional either.

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:08
Italian to English
+ ...
Speak out Jun 24, 2008

I agree with Milinad and Marijke. Any loyalty towards X would be misplaced - they dropped you in it with your client, after all. Of course, there's no need to go shouting it from the rooftops but an honest response to a direct enquiry is perfectly reasonable.

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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 21:08
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
speak out ... Jun 24, 2008

Just to prime the reader for the situation: of course blowing the whistle was on my mind. Why I did not? I could not wrap up the bad news into some positive message - like "your husband had an accident - but it's just a broken leg". I considered offering my stand-by services to Y, but then I did not know how big the job would be, and asking about it would possibly come off self-serving (...vultures circling slowly over Y's head ...) And, anyhow, with time I have gotten cautious when my inner Flora Nightingale starts to raise her head. Asking for advice here shows, I was not that sure.

I'll write tonight anyhow - hey, show some civil courage (sg)!

btw, no BB entries for X to hint at the record.

[Edited at 2008-06-24 08:44]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:08
French to English
Why would you not speak out? Jun 24, 2008

If I were Y, I would think twice about my relationship with you if you didn't tell me.
Your experience is very useful - for instance, Y may well have to finish the job himself, X is not going to provide a beautiful, perfect translation but one week late, X is not going to resurface. You have to tell Y this.

To be honest, I really do not understand why you did not tell Y this in the first place.

It's going to be hard to tell Y now. What are you going to say? "Hi Y, Vito here, you know we were talking about X - well I just remembered he dumped me right in the mire and you're probably gonna have to do that work yourself.......... why didn't I say so before? Well, you know, I get dumped in the mire almost every day and all these unreliable translators merge into one after a while...."

Was it a long time ago?


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 21:08
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
About Y Jun 24, 2008

If I were Y, I would think twice about my relationship with you

I never heard about Y, until two days ago when I got a mail with

"dear Vito

blah blah blah"

I was surprised by the mail itself (who IS Y anyhow) and the fact Y would know about me knowing X - Y must have browsed through X's messages on ProZ to get to me.

Common sense tells me, this ... contact or whatever ... can not be termed a relationship. I hope you would agree.

Regards


[Edited at 2008-06-24 09:16]


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Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 15:08
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Just the facts. Jun 24, 2008

Although I understand your reticence about blowing the whistle (being rather Florence Nightingale- inclined myself unfortunately), I agree with everyone so far. You have to say something.
Just as you would undoubtedly let colleagues know if their computers were in danger of exploding in their faces, in this case...you're warning them that their translator is ticking.
Cheer up, it will be over soon.


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 21:08
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
a bearer of good news Jun 25, 2008

As Y did eventually come back for more, I broached the news. Offered to help. The offer was very much appreciated and accepted on the spot. So ....

I translated the whole project on the double (about 4500 words net). The mail confirming the delivery a short while ago ended as follows:"Thank you, Vito. You certainly made my day."

Trust is the one capital that takes a long time and hard work to build. And there's always room for more. Has to be.

Regards and I guess we can close the subject.

Vito


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 15:08
English to Spanish
... Jun 25, 2008

Vito Smolej wrote:
Trust is the one capital that takes a long time and hard work to build.


And just a moment's folly (not to say, blatant irresponsability) to destroy.

Good for you, Vito


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