What do you mean I’m not perfect in every way?!?

By Roberta Barroca


Well, she’s at it again! Bringing levity with serious subjects and making us laugh… at ourselves mainly. Totally relatable. Another fun article from Roberta, on a topic that will undoubtedly give you pause, maybe teach you something, and definitely elicit a chuckle or two. Laughter is the best medicine, after all, and I know that I’m healthier for it! Enjoy!

Lorena Ortiz Schneider, e-Voice Editor


[woman looking confused]“I don’t have to listen to that nonsense!” says my ego every time someone criticizes me.  “They just want to bring me down, they envy my brilliance.  My parents think I’m the most awesome-est person alive.  Yes, that’s how superlative I am.”

Then reason kicks in and asks: “What if they’re right?  What if there really are areas you need to improve?  Shouldn’t you work on those?”

I guess being criticized is not easy for any of us.  But I do believe we should find a healthy balance in being open to other people’s observations and yet immune to them at the same time.  Confusing?  Tell me about it!

“Yo, crazy lady, what does that have to do with interpreting?`” shouts my own relentless inner critic.

I guess being criticized is not easy for any of us

Well…as interpreters we are very exposed, and therefore subject to criticism.  In consecutive, we normally stand in front of a crowd that usually has a better mastery of the subject than we do.  In simultaneous, although we are somewhat hidden, our voice is reaching our listeners like a whisper from a very close friend (or enemy, if you sound like nails on a chalkboard).  So don’t go assuming the booth is a warm, cozy womb that protects us from the outer world—it really doesn’t.  You were pushed out of your mom’s womb a long time ago.  Get over it.  The truth is that our performance, behavior and even our clothing are analyzed by our clients, listeners and peers.  So given that being judged is part of our profession, we need to handle it well.

When receiving positive feedback, it’s important not to get conceited or complacent.  When it’s negative, we must be careful not to freeze like a deer in the headlights.  It’s also a good idea to take criticism with a grain of salt.  Not all of it is honest and selfless.

When receiving positive feedback, it’s important not to get conceited or complacent

After giving this topic a lot of thought lately, I have come up with a highly scientific method (yeah, right) to distinguish genuine feedback from flattery or projection, or even pure BS.  Here it goes:

  • When receiving feedback, try not to react.  Listen carefully and think about the matter for as long as possible.  After all, if the person does have a point, you should move those lazy buttocks of yours and pursue self-improvement.
  • Observe if the person giving the feedback has reasonable opinions about different topics.  Never trust those who only criticize.  Never trust those who only compliment you, either.  Unless it’s your dog.  Your dog is allowed to see you as a flawless being.
  • As for fellow interpreters, pay attention to the energy of the relationship.  Does it reflect teamwork or competition?  If it’s the latter, disregard the negative feedback.  If it’s the former, embrace it.  Believe it or not, it’s possible to make good friends who also happen to be interpreters.  (oooohhhh…that was mean!)
  • When it comes to clients, I tend to act based on the premise that they’re always right, because without them, you’re out of business.
  • And last but not least, as in any area of your life, beware of Know-It-Alls.  They tend to point fingers at other people just for the fun of it.

As I approach the end of my article, I realize that this is a sensitive subject and I am thus putting myself once again on the stage of vulnerability.  Some people might read it and totally relate to it, while others might hate it and think I’m a whiny little witch (there’s something wrong with the “B” on my keyboard…).  And that’s ok.  I’d rather suffer the consequences of my actions than be paralyzed by the heavy hand of criticism.

“To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing and BE NOTHING” (author unknown).


[Roberta Barroca]

Roberta Barroca is a journalist, translator and passionate English<>Brazilian Portuguese conference interpreter. Proud ATA and AIIC member. Gemini with Virgo rising. 36 years old. Favorite expression: “Thank you Universe!”

Image: © Vladimirfloyd | Dreamstime.com

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ata-divisions.org/ID/im-not-perfect-in-every-way/



    Glad you enjoyed it Flávia! It’s something so many of us can relate to and Roberta sure knows how to express it perfectly!


  2. Flávia Lima

    Bravo! I can definitely relate to it on so many levels. I have been criticized by know-it-alls my whole life! Meh… In fact, I have been told that my academic ambition was not necessary when working as an interpreter… and that the school I go to has so may flaws… yatta yatta! Ummmm, really??? Which school did you go to again? How can you discredit the program I attend? Ahhhh that’s right, you’re talking out of your arse! XD

    I’ve also had an instance where a Portuguese interpreter told me he was a certified court interpreter, and when I checked the court’s interpreter directory I saw that he was “qualified” just as much as I was… So not only do we suffer criticism, but we also suffer from envious people who misrepresent themselves and try to find our weak points to say that our efforts are all in vain, that we should not strive to become better professional because we can’t compete with 20+ years of experience… Talk about some BS!

    Anyway, thank you for sharing this post.

    Mwah! :*

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