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Poll: Did you share feelings of grief, sadness, etc. with a client to justify an inconvenience?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 09:22
SITE STAFF
Jul 20, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Did you share feelings of grief, sadness, etc. with a client to justify an inconvenience?".

This poll was originally submitted by Mariam Osmane. View the poll results »



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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:22
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Hmmm Jul 20, 2014

Why would someone do this?

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jul 20, 2014

Perhaps this is terribly "unprofessional", but I like to think of myself as being upfront, WYSIWYG, so if I had to explain, for example, a late delivery or inability to work on certain dates dues to unfortunate personal circumstances, I'd probably tell most clients exactly why, unless it was something embarrassing, for example being arrested or detained. I'd have no compunction about telling them a relative or partner was hospitalised or moribund if that were the case.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 17:22
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Double hmmmmmm! Jul 20, 2014

Can’t understand the meaning of this question! Do you mean to lie like a child saying that your grandmother died as an excuse for delivering late a translation? Really? Paraphrasing George Washington “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”

Anyway, in 30 years I have never delivered a translation late and I’m known to deliver quite often before the deadline!


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 13:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Grief, sadness? No! - Disappointment with source material, yes! Jul 20, 2014

I deliberately missed the point here.

If I have troubles of my own, it's none of the client's business. If I open that door, it's a two-way passage, so I'll be entitling them to tell me why I should do the job at hand faster than I can, and for free!

In a different context, you've got your troubles, I've got mine explains it well.

Clients want to know whether I can do it by when they need it, and how much it will cost, viz. if it's affordable and/or worthwhile in terms of cost/benefit. Nothing else.

If I've got my troubles, the best I can do is to tell them when I can get it done, or who else I think that could get it done for them. If I commit to do it, I must keep my word, no matter what.

On the other hand, I won't refrain from telling them that, if they had more adequate source material, I would be able to do it better, faster, and/or cheaper. The most common case is when they send me a postage-stamp size video, and want it translated and subtitled on a DVD. If my subtitles will be e.g. some 20x sharper than their blurry flicks, I'll express my sadness on the expected outcome. Sometimes they get me a better input.


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oxygen4u
Portugal
Local time: 17:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes, I'm a person, not a computer Jul 20, 2014

My husband died last March. I was not able to finish the translations I was working on. I contacted my clients and they were all very supportive.

I have continued to work for the same clients and they often ask me how I'm doing. I see nothing wrong with sharing our feelings, as long as we don't use them as lame excuses.


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Anne Schulz
Germany
Local time: 18:22
English to German
Perfectly agree with oxygen4you Jul 20, 2014

If I get the migraines in the middle of a job and cannot complete the job in time, what else should I tell the client for a reason? I am a human being, not a computer.

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Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:22
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
not quite Jul 20, 2014

when I was really sick this winter, I was working on a small project and made a small error. It was really hard for me to concentrate at times. The client understood, she was also suffering with a bad cold.

A few years ago, I was working on a large editing project while my father was ill, and then passed. My client was very understanding of course, but I continued working. I actually found it to be kind of comforting.


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Vera Schoen  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 18:22
Member (2008)
German to Swedish
+ ...
Some understanding wouldn't hurt... Jul 20, 2014

There are some harsh comments here.
I too lost my husband and didn't (as oxygen4u) have the good sense to inform the outsourcer, because I could not think at all at that time. Of course the translation was rubbish (this was a week after he had passed away) and the outsourcer was understandably not happy with it at all. So I told them what had happened and that I would correct it. I also offered them a hefty price reduction. They were extremely understanding, told me I should take all the time I need for the corrections and appreciated my reduction of the price. And yes, I still work with them.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Grief, sadness, stiff wrists... Jul 20, 2014

I learned quite a bit by reading comments by Oxygen4u and neilmac, among others.

Perhaps the poll question should be rephrased a bit; then again, there's the problem of character space.

As a policy, if I encounter a personal inconvenience that prevents me from meeting a deadline, I inform the client that I need more time, even if I had a bad, sleepless night due to family problems.* Sharing what the experience made me feel with someone outside of family, especially with a customer, is unprofessional to me.

I think we all have friends among project managers or even direct managers; in that case, it's a matter of what space the relationship has for sharing personal events, even unfortunate ones. In that situation, I prefer to send a cursory email to address the issue “Sorry I wasn't able to complete this by 6 p.m. yesterday, but here's the file.” Then I would call them to explain it more appropriately over the phone.

As we say in Spanish: El papel aguanta cualquier cosa, pero las palabras se las lleva el viento.
Translation: you may say anything on paper (and it stays there), but words are ephemeral.

There's a different inconvenience that warrants telling the client immediately because it is impacting my workflow. Last year, while under a 40-hours-a-week contract, I had developed painful wrists (overuse). So I contacted my PM (a fellow translator in the team) and the manager in charge on the client's side that I would necessarily have to cut down the hours for that particular week.

So, I worked about 30-32 hours for one or two weeks, fell behind a bit, then tried to make up for it as best as I could. My PM understood, as well as the rest of the team. I cannot say the manager understood because, well, he didn't answer emails for almost 3 months after taking charge of our team. But that's a different story.

*My family problems are usually issues within the families of my siblings, or among themselves. I live by myself, with my cat, with no family or kids of my own.

[Edited at 2014-07-20 14:38 GMT]


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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:22
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes and no Jul 20, 2014

Of course, if something was preventing me from doing my job then I would be honest with the customer about it. I would tell them that I had suffered a bereavement, illness etc. However, I wouldn't discuss it in detail and pour out my grief, with the possible exception of a couple of customers who have become friends over the years.

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Monika Soeren  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:22
Polish to German
+ ...
Once so far Jul 20, 2014

I've done it exactly once when my husband had gone missing and we had the police and others look for him. The client pushed me very much and wanted to have a part of the translation delivered right then and there and there was nothing left but tell them why I couldn't do it.

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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 11:22
German to English
+ ...
I don't understand the question Jul 20, 2014

"To justify an inconvenience" - what does that mean?

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Rolf Kern  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 18:22
English to German
+ ...
Other Jul 20, 2014

I do not understand the question.

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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 12:22
English to Spanish
Yes and no Jul 20, 2014

Helen Hagon wrote:

Of course, if something was preventing me from doing my job then I would be honest with the customer about it. I would tell them that I had suffered a bereavement, illness etc. However, I wouldn't discuss it in detail and pour out my grief, with the possible exception of a couple of customers who have become friends over the years.


My thoughts exactly.

I would have no problem saying "My father is in critical condition so I have to drop this project until we know where we stand. I'm really sorry for the inconvenience and hope you can find someone to take over", but I would NEVER say "My father is in critical condition so I have to drop this project because my mind is somewhere else and I'm in no shape to focus, since I'm so worried/scared/etc....". There's a difference.



Best.

[Edited at 2014-07-20 20:27 GMT]


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