Poll: Are translators/interpreters too trusting in professional situations?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 22:30
SITE STAFF
Jul 21, 2011

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Are translators/interpreters too trusting in professional situations?".

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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:30
Member
German to English
+ ...
Other Jul 21, 2011

It's not possible to make that kind of sweeping generalisation about a whole profession. Maybe some are, some aren't, who knows!

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:30
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
I'm not sure Jul 21, 2011

It depends on the translator her-/himself, I pressume.

A certain amount of trust is mandatory, especially with new clients - and despite the research that must be conducted prior to working for a new client.

But there are certainly translator who "take the word" given by the client, or who perhaps trust in "standard assumptions" in regard to localities, e. g. clients from certain countries are reliable and always pay on time, while clients from other areas are reknown for their extremely low prices.

Again, all this depends solely on the person, that is, both on the translator as well as on the client.


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Paul Stevens  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:30
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agreed Jul 21, 2011

Mary Worby wrote:

It's not possible to make that kind of sweeping generalisation about a whole profession. Maybe some are, some aren't, who knows!


Spot on, Mary!


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
My impression Jul 21, 2011

It's just an impression I have from reading polls and forums here, and I could be wrong, but it seems to me like there is an excess of blind trust on the part of many translators. I'm always amazed when I receive job offers for thousands of words from a first-time client who I've never even heard of or worked with before. It makes me wonder, "Who would accept this job?"

I believe trust (or good faith) is built up over time in a business relationship. I also believe that trust is a two-way street and agencies are also taking a certain risk when they begin working with new translators.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Jul 21, 2011

Although I agree with Mary's comment about the sweeping generalisation of the query, I think I can safely say yes as long as my answer applies to me.

Speaking for myself, yes, I may be "too" trusting because I tend to judge other people by my own standards. If I say tomorrow, it means tomorrow and not the next day, and I expect clients to follow suit. I soon learnt the hard way that the world doesn't always work out the way we'd like it to.

I recently had to sign (and return by fax, in this day and age!) a confidentiality agreement with an agency client, which has made me seriously doubt about working for them again on such a distrustful basis - as I tend to take professional discretion for granted as part and parcel of being "professional".

However, in the cut and thrust of what passes for business nowadays, being honest or "nice" can be seen as a weakness to be exploited, so if this poll is aimed at younger translators just setting out on their careers, I’d say that a degree of caution is always advisable, at least until you have the measure of whoever you are working for/with.


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 07:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
Wise words from Neilmac Jul 21, 2011

There's a lot of live and learn which Proz can help us acquire by reading these polls, even if I did click here expecting to find a series of sob stories. But a few morality tales will probably not go amiss.

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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:30
Member (2008)
English to Italian
Don't know Jul 21, 2011

I can't speak on behalf of every translator, in my experience I have learnt to trust some "requests" and simply ignore others.
For John: I have been a translator for several years now, and I have been also an outsourcer. Sometimes our feedbacks on Proz encourage a potential client to ask a long translation to a translator they have never worked with before.
Then obviously it depends on the approach, a clear explicative e-mail can be a good sign of reliability.

At the end of the day, I don't think we can consider translators as too trusting or not, it's just a matter of how people establish relationships with new clients (with long-term clients obviously the problem does not exist).


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:30
French to English
Impossible to say generally, BUT... Jul 21, 2011

Translators are end-of-the-line service providers. That is in the nature of our job. Often under great pressure working to meet tight deadlines, a bitter feeling of resentment can set in when having given it all wev'e got to do a good job within imperfect conditions, we then have to fight to be paid.

Does that make us too trusting? Being the last in the line means we often feel we have little say in the matter. However, when you realize that is precisely to your advantage, then the situation can be reversed. Politely. Professionnally.

When starting out, we are perhaps a little gullible, grateful to have work coming in. By the time that work becomes a regular flow, you are generally already shedding from the stock of clients, those who get up your nose.

Humility yes, being swept under the carpet no!


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R-i-c-h-a-r-d  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:30
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
We ARE trusting... Jul 21, 2011

...and we have to be, often working for 'unknown' clients over periods of many days or even weeks, but TOO trusting? No, I think that depends on the personality of the individual.

I have only ever been caught out once through lack of pre-checking, by a company in the UAE, operating out of a PO Box. I should have been more careful.


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Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:30
Member (2009)
French to English
No... Jul 21, 2011

...but only because a translator who is too trusting, would not be a translator for long. As for receiving jobs for thousands of words from new clients - well, what else would you expect? I would balk at 10,000 words, but I have many proven clients today where our relationship started with a 2-4k project. I translate contracts for the most part and that is a good average length for such. Mind you, I check them out seven ways from Sunday first, but I also follow my gut instincts.

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No Jul 21, 2011

Fortunately or not, I am doing this for two decades. During this time, I nurtured certain instinct who I should trust and who should not.
If a total stranger throw an email into my inbox, then out of blue asked 10,20K jobs without any indication of partial prepayment, I would politely turn down no matter how job hungry I am at that particular time.
Discretion is a part of our professionalims.


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:30
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nikki says it very well Jul 21, 2011

We reallly don't have too much choice once we accept a set of conditions. No one is trying to abuse us: if we end up with more than we can handle for less than we thought we were going to be paid, we need to learn to communicate better during the negotation phase. This is a skill that can be acquired. I think it's all about communication and choices - not about distrust vs. gullibility.

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

Translators are end-of-the-line service providers. That is in the nature of our job. Often under great pressure working to meet tight deadlines, a bitter feeling of resentment can set in when having given it all wev'e got to do a good job within imperfect conditions, we then have to fight to be paid.

Does that make us too trusting? Being the last in the line means we often feel we have little say in the matter. However, when you realize that is precisely to your advantage, then the situation can be reversed. Politely. Professionnally.

When starting out, we are perhaps a little gullible, grateful to have work coming in. By the time that work becomes a regular flow, you are generally already shedding from the stock of clients, those who get up your nose.

Humility yes, being swept under the carpet no!


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