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Poll: Do you talk about your personal life (hobbies, family, etc.) with your client(s)?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 21:07
SITE STAFF
Oct 17, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you talk about your personal life (hobbies, family, etc.) with your client(s)?".

This poll was originally submitted by Jan Kolbaba. View the poll results »



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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:07
Member (2006)
German to English
Yes, but only with certain customers Oct 17, 2012

Yep, I have some really good long-term clients that I also visit and everyone comes with me. Great atmosphere and they usually have their own family members as well.

It all depends on how well you are bringing up your children, if you can let them loose at someone elses offices.


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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:07
Member
German to English
+ ...
Sometimes, but not in great detail ... Oct 17, 2012

I mention my personal life occasionally, as in 'had a lovely weekend, took the children to the zoo,' 'sorry, can't take the job on as I'm taking my husband out for a birthday lunch', etc. but don't go into much detail. None of my clients could tell you the names or ages of my children or pets ...

Edited out embarrassing typo!

[Edited at 2012-10-17 09:20 GMT]


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Patricia Prevost  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:07
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, because my best client is also a friend Oct 17, 2012

We have known each other for almost 20 years and we are friends too, so that explains why in this case we talk about our personal lives quite a lot.

But that's an exception and not the rule. I don't do the same with my other clients, although we maintain a cordial business relationship.


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Cindy Presne  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:07
English to French
+ ...
Hobbies can bring some jobs Oct 17, 2012

Once, I told a client that I played the cello and the flute, and that I had a lot of experience of orchestra playing, in order to justify that I qualified most for a job (translation of a newspaper article about a classical concert). I got that job and the client seemed to be very happy with it!

Otherwise, like Mary, I sometimes say a little bit about my private life to explain why I can't take a job, for example.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Absolutely Oct 17, 2012

In my experience, chatting with clients and visiting them and getting to know them and sharing jokes and even becoming friends is the best possible way of building a lasting working relationship.

I reckon being good at this is more important than being a good translator!


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 05:07
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In general, no! Oct 17, 2012

It's a cultural thing! I might do that with one or two Portuguese clients, but I wouldn't dream of doing the same with my Belgian (or international) clients (with whom I'm fortunate enough to have built a long standing relationship), except exchanging some polite platitudes...

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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
Aren't you a friendly lot! Oct 17, 2012

I'm available or not available. And if I'm not available it's because I'm busy. I wouldn't dream of telling anyone anything. They are only really interested in if I can do the job or not anyway. I bid them a good weekend etc. but that's it.

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:07
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Only with very special clients Oct 17, 2012

I've found that speaking with long-term clients about non-business related issues is very helpful to the relationship. Speaking about hobbies has secured me quite a few jobs that I would have never received if it hadn't been for the "small talk" about them. The same applies to political situations.

However, this "at times personal" talk happens only with a selected "handful" of clients. Thus far, this "procedure" has worked very well.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:07
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I use one-liners Oct 17, 2012

It is part of the way I 'brand' myself.
I'm sure it is a mistake to bore clients with long stories. Half-told tales can give the wrong impression, especially to people who don't really know anything about your background.

I try to find something not too intimate.
I might mention that the weather is good for the museums/tourists/working indoors... Or things like time for a cup of coffee, a breath of air or time for bed (when I deliver a file after 10 pm to be sure it's there by 8 next morning).

A 'postcard' with a view of where I have been on holiday is sometimes useful as a reminder that I'm back and available for jobs again.
Or a remark about a good one-day course, and naturally professional activities like powwows or meetings with colleagues.

I do feel I am friends with some of the PMs, and many of them send similar comments back. It also helps with fitting deadlines and proofreading in with when I 'm available, and makes planning easier.

We're all human, and I think it is a way of getting to the top of the list of people to contact when there is work.


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maryblack  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:07
Member (2013)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Silvio Oct 17, 2012

I have one rather "interesting" client, French/Spanish man, whom I nickname Silvio (Burlusconi), while he calls me Margaret (Thatcher). The root of this name-calling is his very, shall we say, piquant comments, sexist texts and general machismo, which I've tried to warn him about regarding their inappropriateness to the majority of English-speaking audiences, to which he hints in response that I'm a cold prude. Yet I just received an email with a project in which he enquired whether I prefer Spanish or "Anglo-Saxon" men. Hmm... No answer, obviously. The best of all is that when I bug him about late payments, he asks me to stop nagging him like his ex-wife. Really? The amazing thing is that apparently this is not unprofessional behaviour to his mind, while to me it is totally unacceptable and in the U.S. could arguably be grounds for sexual harassment charges. Cultural differences?

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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:07
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I tend to agree with Tatty Oct 17, 2012

I usually make reference to my personal life only when it somehow affects my acceptance of a potential job, or my completion of a job already accepted.

Examples:
1.
Upon receiving an offer unexpectedly at 4:00 p.m. Friday: "I had other plans this weekend, so the rate I can offer for this project will be....."

2.
Alerting the client that I won't be able to meet a deadline: "I became very sick last night and will not be able to work at all today. It is therefore possible that I won't be able to complete the project I accepted from you yesterday by XXX, as originally agreed...."

3.
Upon noticing that a client had contacted me with an offer a couple of hours before: "I was at a dentist appointment this morning and therefore am just now able to reply to your earlier message."

As Tatty says, the PM's or others who contact us for jobs are generally only interested if we can or cannot do a given job for a price they are willing to pay. They are not interested in a rundown--or even a passing reference-- re our personal affairs.

Business communication should generally be businesslike: cordial and polite, but focused on the business at hand.


[Edited at 2012-10-17 13:15 GMT]


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Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 23:07
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not very often Oct 17, 2012

Not very often and only with some old clients. I have good friends in the field.

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Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:07
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
not often Oct 17, 2012

Mostly just things like 'my sister took that course' or anecdotal things like that.
One of my clients is about my age and we chat online about all types of things, music,how his kid is doing at hockey, our favourite tv shows, etc. I deal with the partner at his agency mostly, and still work for them. Nothing amiss there, just friendly chat. With most of them, though, it's solely business. In his case, it's more like two colleagues hanging out after work.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
Only certain clients Oct 17, 2012

Not a lot, and only the ones I am very friendly/familar with. For example, I will be away for 4 days at the end of October so have told my main clients not to expect me to work that weekend. However, I only told 2 of them the actual reason I'm going ...

I also told one potential client this morning I coldn't do a rush job because I had to go and pay my VAT, which was true, but I didn't really want the job anyway, mainly because I'm getting REALLY fed up with everybody being "urgent" and in a hurry...

[Edited at 2012-10-17 16:02 GMT]


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