Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Dealing with rude/insensitive behaviour among interpreting clients
Thread poster: Marina Khonina

Marina Khonina  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 16:24
Russian to English
+ ...
Jun 27, 2012

I guess we've all had our share of rude clients, but the experience I had yesterday was probably the ultimate in my entire interpreting career, because the interaction was not only characterised by rudeness, but, sadly, by sexism and racism as well.

Yesterday, I received an email query from a local translation agency through an international professional website (not ProZ.com). The person asked me to come to their office for an interview today or tomorrow.

Since I am booked solid this week (and this was really short notice, considering that I haven't been in contact with this agency before), I responded that I'm unavailable for an in-person meeting during these days, but that I'd be happy to do a phone interview this morning.

That's when strange things started happening.

The person responded by saying that a phone interview is fine with him and he'll call me the next day at the time specified.

One hour later however (I was on the road and so didn't see his emailed response) he called me on my mobile phone, insisting that I must come to their office in person by Thursday ("we must see your face" was the expression he used).

As I tried to explain that I am unable to do so because I'd be working at a conference across the city, he said that I was being "suspicious" and that he needed to meet me "because we both understand that you're no Miss Russia". Soon after that, he hung up the phone without giving me a chance to respond.

Needless to say, this whole interchange left me speechless.

I proceeded to report the incident to the website through which he contacted me and shared the incident with the colleague I was working with on that day. She was appropriately outraged, though we managed to joke about my being unable to qualify for Miss Russia anyway, because I bear no connection to the Russian Federation aside from my working language.

Thankfully, the translation website responded promptly by preventing this person from contacting translators through their system. In the meantime, he got in touch with me again by email, a portion of which I quote below (emphasis mine):


My customer wants to have a Russian-English interpreter. Therfore, I must check beforehand who is Russian, speaks fluent English, has a working permit, an interpretation diploma, and so on. I need to see every candidate in my language center in order to make sure the above criteria. When I called you yesterday, I wanted to fix the time for an interview today but you constantly interrupted me. (I did no say that I absolutely want to see you in person.) If you believe that you needn't identify yourself and that you can directly go to my customer, you maybe live in another planet. That's where I said that you are not Ms. Russia. No company would send an unknown person to their customer.

Hopefully, you understand me now. If you understand me now, I will finish the matter. Otherwise, I will inform the same website and many of my Turkish colleagues about your inadequate behavior.


The question remains, which part of "I'm busy and regrettably can't come to your office on these dates", reiterated in emails and on the phone, was so difficult to understand?

Why would an agency agree to a phone interview and then have its representative call me and try to aggressively get me to come to their office (my diplomas and proof of experience can certainly be emailed, something we all do regularly, so that comment in the email is beside the point).

Then, there's the more important question: what does being a beauty contestant have to do with professional ability?

But I guess this question is rhetorical.

***

I sincerely hope this person is not being deliberately rude, but is simply clueless about what is appropriate and what isn't. Still, the whole situation is disturbing and sad.

Have any of you had similar experiences? Could this situation be handled differently (other than just ignoring the email query in the first place)? If so, how?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Vadim Kadyrov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 15:24
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
I would... Jun 27, 2012

amuse myself trolling him with emails (more on the topic - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)). It is a good way to educate this person (when he finally realizes true intentions of yours). Imagine his fury when he does!

Such "clients" should be punished relentlessly. By doing so, you save the time and nerves of his future victims (= your colleagues).

I am not a person to tolerate such things - and I strongly recommend that all of us do not tolerate such behaviour either.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
The Misha
Local time: 08:24
Russian to English
+ ...
The only thing you could - and should have - done differently Jun 27, 2012

was tell the schmuck to beat it the second it turned ugly. You are a freelancer, I assume, and thus have the luxury of taking on or declining jobs as you see fit. Remember what the man said in the old movie? When there is a doubt, there is no doubt. If you are up to it, just badmouth this joker anywhere you can think of, and don't be too subtle about it. Then forget about it and move on. Good luck to you.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marina Khonina  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 16:24
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks :) Jun 27, 2012

Thanks, Misha and Vadim. Your humour is very much appreciated.

Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxValerie35
Local time: 14:24
German to English
Not a defense Jun 27, 2012

This is not a defense of this person - because he sounds like an idiot to try to force someone to come to his office on his terms - but he may have meant something like "The Big Wanna-Be Russian Boss" by "Ms. Russia", not a beauty contestant.

The English in his e-mail was very shaky, and he may not fully know what he is saying.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marina Khonina  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 16:24
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Could be a matter of speaking a foreign language Jun 27, 2012

Valerie35 wrote:
he may have meant something like "The Big Wanna-Be Russian Boss" by "Ms. Russia", not a beauty contestant.


That would be a very big stretch, but I agree, this could be a linguistic issue (though I lived in Turkey long enough to know that raising one's voice in professional interactions is not appropriate, regardless of which language you are speaking ).



[Edited at 2012-06-27 13:43 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:24
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
You'd be surprised Jun 27, 2012

... maybe he DID want Ms. Russia

A colleague once informed me she was shocked because she was frankly told by a client she was selected for being blonde.

Let's not even mention nose-rings and mini-skirts


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:24
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Ignore the b*****d! Jun 27, 2012

People like the "gentleman" you describe loathe being ignored ... so, ignore him!
Don't respond to his email "explanation" of his conduct, but continue to report his unpleasant behaviour wherever appropriate.
Wishing you pleasanter experiences in future,
Jenny


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 21:24
Chinese to English
Very pleased to hear that the website took prompt action Jun 27, 2012

There should be no tolerance for this kind of thing.

When I saw the title, I wondered if you meant rude behaviour during interpreting - which can actually be easier to deal with: you just interpret what's been said, and let the other participants sort it out.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Germaine  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:24
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
Considering his comments... Jun 27, 2012

Marina Khonina wrote:

My customer wants to have a Russian-English interpreter. Therfore, I must check beforehand who is Russian... If you believe that you needn't identify yourself... That's where I said that you are not Ms. Russia



I think this was meant as Ms. Russia would be known across the place for being Russian and therefore, there would be no need to see/meet with her to confirm that point. Nevertheless, under the circumstances, the comment was uncalled-for. Would he have told a man "you're not Mr. Universe Russia" or rather "You're not Poutine"?

Marina Khonina wrote:
The question remains, which part of "I'm busy and regrettably can't come to your office on these dates", reiterated in emails and on the phone, was so difficult to understand?


Some people just don't listen but to what they want to hear (and that's obvious in this case). I recently experienced the same with an agency (to be avoided according to the Blue Board and I agree!) sending emails after emails: Would you translate this...? - Sorry, I'm not available... - Tomorrow? - Not available. - When will you be? - Wednesday. - Not before? - No! - Call me Wednesday, first thing in the morning. - Ok. Calling on Wednesday, 8:00 a.m.: Too Late! - and these are the only words he spoke!!! Click!

Some people, indeed, live on their own planet...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marina Khonina  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 16:24
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Oh no! Jun 27, 2012

Parrot wrote:

... maybe he DID want Ms. Russia

A colleague once informed me she was shocked because she was frankly told by a client she was selected for being blonde.


Oh no, Cecilia, imagine his shock upon discovering that I'm a brunette?

I did have a client who googled me (to find out what I look like, no less) before hiring. I learned about this later, and it turned out to be a great job—though the photos episode did leave a bad taste in my mouth.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marina Khonina  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 16:24
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
More clueless than rude? Jun 27, 2012

Germaine wrote:

Some people just don't listen but to what they want to hear (and that's obvious in this case). I recently experienced the same with an agency (to be avoided according to the Blue Board and I agree!) sending emails after emails: Would you translate this...? - Sorry, I'm not available... - Tomorrow? - Not available. - When will you be? - Wednesday. - Not before? - No! - Call me Wednesday, first thing in the morning. - Ok. Calling on Wednesday, 8:00 a.m.: Too Late! - and these are the only words he spoke!!! Click!


Glad to hear I'm not the only one... I guess that's exactly the case here.

Some people, indeed, live on their own planet...


Bingo!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marina Khonina  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 16:24
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the support, colleagues Jun 27, 2012

Jenny and Phil,

Thanks for your comments. I was really beginning to question my sanity this morning.

Here's to pleasant and polite working environments—for all of us.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
A right turkey Jun 28, 2012

The Misha wrote:

"... tell the schmuck to beat it the second it turned ugly. You are a freelancer, I assume, and thus have the luxury of taking on or declining jobs as you see fit. ... If you are up to it, just badmouth this joker anywhere you can think of, and don't be too subtle about it. Then forget about it and move on. Good luck to you.


My sentiments entirely. Although in Spain, it is quite common for (usually male) clients to ask for a blonde or "attractive" interpreter, and not always jokingly.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:24
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some ideas Jun 28, 2012

Marina Khonina wrote:
If you believe that you needn't identify yourself and that you can directly go to my customer, you maybe live in another planet. That's where I said that you are not Ms. Russia. No company would send an unknown person to their customer.


It sounds to me like he might have had some bad experiences in the past with interpreters who either dressed unprofessionally or looked distractingly ugly. It is also acceptable in many parts of the world that one can get a good or a bad feeling about a person by meeting them in person. It's a good thing translators' clients don't see what they wear when they sit in front of their computers all day long. Perhaps he had met a few interpreters who felt that since it is their language skills that count, and not their presentation, that presentation is therefore completely unimportant.

Why would an agency agree to a phone interview and then have its representative call me and try to ... get me to come to their office


When I read your initial description of the events it did not strike me as odd. The person initially thought that it would be okay to do a phone interview, then thought the better of it, and phoned you back relatively quickly to say that what he had said previously was not in fact correct. Be thankful that this guy was professional enough to phone you as soon as he realised his mistake, and not on the morning of the interview, or (worse) after the interview.


[Edited at 2012-06-28 07:41 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Dealing with rude/insensitive behaviour among interpreting clients

Advanced search







memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search