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
“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.
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.
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 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!”