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Did you know that your personality may affect the way you work? We’ve identified 10 types of translators. Read on and find out what translator type you are. Or maybe you’re a mix of several types?
Translator type #1: The ‘yes’ man
Always take your clients’ or partners’ needs above their own. Too afraid to defend their own rights, state their case or present their point of view. They tend to accept all the offers they get, regardless of how ridiculous the requirements may be. One day rush? Will do! 12,000 words per day? Not a problem! As a result, both the quality of their work, their finances and their job satisfaction are likely to suffer. This type seems to be the most prevalent in newbies and translator-trainees. Fortunately, most of them eventually realize the consequences, and quickly shake off this destructive attitude.
Translator type #2: The social animal and event-goer
The stereotype has it that a typical translator is this totally introvert, bookish guy who thrives on solitude and avoids social gatherings. But does it always have to be that way? There are plenty of pretty sociable translators out there! They enjoy all sorts of translation-related events like workshops or conferences. More often than not, they belong to one or more translation association and are active members of translation communities on the internet. This type enjoys teamwork and never underestimates the value of networking.
Translator type #3: The lone wolf
OK, but most stereotypes are one way or another rooted in reality. The truth is that translation, by and large, is a solitary profession. If you chose this job because, apart from the love for languages, you enjoy the comfort of working from the peace and quiet of your home, away from other people, you might be the lone wolf. This type is usually diligent, highly focused on their work and doesn’t feel bored working long hours. They are used to relying on their own and don’t feel daunted by taking on challenging solo projects.
Translator type #4: The perfectionist
Translating a text may take them ages, because nothing is ever good enough for them. They take plenty of time proofreading, editing and correcting, and then again correcting and editing. Always on the lookout of the “perfect phrase”, even when the time-to-money ratio starts to suffer. Highly competitive type, who completes mostly with themselves. They feel ill-at-ease having to look at their work once it’s handed over to the client – always afraid they will find something that could have been done better.
Translator type #5: Never-out-of-work type
Always in the work mode. Whenever they are, whatever they do, they never cease to think about work. When reading a book, watching a movie, or looking through a restaurant menu, they always analyze the translation, finding faults, asking themselves: “would I have done it differently?” That’s just how their mind works, there’s no way to turn it off!
Translator type #6: The pedantic and orderly type.
They keep a copy of every single document they translated since the very first day they started this business. With just a few mouse clicks they’re able to tell you what exactly they were busy with in 2001. But it doesn’t end there! Everything is carefully arranged according to the year, client, theme, etc. They seem to thrive on schedules and order. Their translation memories and glossaries are regularly revised and updated, as are entries in the calendar and to-do lists.
Translator type #7: The set-in-their-ways type
Accustomed to doing things in certain ways and not too eager to change the already fixed habits. They are usually rather distrustful of novelties and reluctant towards changes in the industry, development of new technologies or ideas. All too often, they are the first ones to complain about feature- or interface-related changes in the software programs they use. Sometimes get too nostalgic about the past.
Translator type #8: Curious explorer
The exact opposite of the previous type. They eagerly test new products and follow industry news trying to stay on top of everything that’s new. They attend translation events, eagerly test new solutions and ideas, constantly focusing on self-development and expanding their qualifications.
Translator type #9: Born diplomat
They skillfully negotiate both the rates and requirements of their clients. These individuals can successfully defend their point of view (and hence the text version) in a delicate and assertive way. They’re not afraid to advise their clients, suggest different solutions or pinpoint mistakes. They never burn bridges, even if the clients’ demands and prices offered are inadequate to the required workload.
Translator type #10: The loving their job type
This type carefully selects projects in which they participate, so that each of them brings some sort of satisfaction – if not a financial one, then at least in terms of professional growth. They like challenges and treat them as an opportunity to learn something new. As a result of such attitude, they aren’t threatened by the prospect of professional burnout or perceiving their work as boring or repetitive.
When speaking of mistakes translators tend to make, most people immediately think of newbies only entering the profession. But is it just so? What about their more experience colleagues? It turns out that old hands aren’t exactly flawless, either.
Common mistakes made by more experienced translators
Mistake #1: Overreliance on experience
Generally speaking, work experience is a precious resource that makes you a worthy and sought-after professional. Such is the case with every profession, translator included. You are able to work faster and more efficiently, can afford to be pickier when it comes to gigs, and can expect higher per hour income. However, there are times when overreliance on your past experience, memory, previous assignments can lead you astray. Just a quick look at a document may make you jump to conclusions that you’ve already done a similar text, worked with similar terminology, etc. And this can go both ways – it can all be true, but it might also lull you into a false sense of security. Changes are you will be less vigilant and attentive to details, overlooking something that might have an impact on your performance. Just beware of the fact that it can be tricky.
Mistake #2: Limiting yourself to your current clients
You’ve worked in the business for xx years, managed to find yourself a bunch of regular clients and a decent, steady income. It feels safe and secure. It feels like something you’ve always wanted. While all this might be true, it’s never good to put all your eggs in one basket. What if your client goes out of business, or (for whatever reason) decides to buy translation services from some place else? A common mistake made by experienced translators is that they forget about self-promotion. And with today’s technology, marketing your services is easier than ever before. Nobody’s going to learn about you and your services, unless you tell them. The more people know about you, the more likely you are to land good clients and interesting projects.
Mistake #3: Sticking to what you already know
A while ago, we discussed the importance of finding a niche, something to remember you by. While this continues to be true, keep in mind, that translation is a kind of profession that demands continuous development. This applies not only to always polishing your language skills, but also expanding the horizons of your knowledge and experience in a broader sense. At some point you might feel less inclined to try out new things, take on more challenging projects, etc. This attitude is a mistake that might eventually lead to professional burnout.
Mistake #4: Ignorance about new developments
When you’re a novice entering the profession, you want to know everything there is to know. You read magazines, books, attend workshops or conferences. You try to gain as much experience you can and try your best not to miss anything translation-related. What happens next? Your initial enthusiasm slowly wears off, you get sucked into everyday life and tell yourself you don’t have time for all that, or no longer need it.
To some extent, it’s a natural course of life. As you gain more experience, you indeed have more work and less time to follow every piece of news. The thing is, that you shouldn’t let go completely. Try to keep up with the industry trends, recent developments in translation technology or news in your specialization field. Don’t just get stuck with what you have, just because it’s something you happen to know very well. That way, you limit the risk that you will miss out on something worthy, interesting or useful.
Mistake #5: Being too nostalgic about the past
We all do that. We tend to look back at the past and think that a while ago, things used to be easier. Your rates used to be higher, clients less demanding and the profession itself was regarded with more respect. Perhaps you think people were less likely to equate your job with something a machine translation engine can do? Or there were less people willing to do a translation job for peanuts?
The thing is, such negative thinking is a fallacy, a cognitive bias that is staggeringly common in many people. This phenomenon is called rosy retrospection – people tend to simplify and exaggerate their memories (much like in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” movie). It’s because our brains are better-wired to store long-term memories, which makes us think fondly about our past, the times when we used to be young, etc.
There’s a risk in such thinking – high chances are you are more focused on comparing things with the past, than on actual work. You fail to see the big picture and notice things that might actually help you. How the industry has grown, the new developments in CAT tools, the fact that it’s easier than ever before to socialize with other fellow translators (making this profession less solitary than it used to be), it’s easier to market your services and to work remotely.
Self-employment is, in general opinion, a synonym of freedom. Full-time employees envy freelancers having no supervisor above them. Or the fact that they have a greater freedom in the selection of projects, and, above all, the opportunity to take vacation at any time without the need to submit an application. At least so much for the theory. But those who did work as freelancers at least once in their life knows that the reality looks less rosy. Freelancing and vacation for many freelancers are concepts that are mutually exclusive. In the long run, however, it is impossible to put your clients’ needs over your own all the time . Every freelance needs longer holidays at least once a year to clear their head and change their environment. Prepare your business for a break and do what you can to really wind down and take the most of your out-of-office time.
How to wind down during the holidays?
Try not to leave any issues unresolved
What’s the point of going on holidays in the first place? Basically – to relax. It doesn’t matter whether you chose to engage in physical activity and adrenaline of mountain hiking, or prefer to lay idly on the beach. The point is to break free from current affairs and think about something else. That’s why it’s better to start preparing yourself and your clients’ ahead of time. Don’t take any last-minute gigs just before departure, to be make sure you can finish everything before you get on that plane. If there are any issues that will need attendance while you’re gone, perhaps you can ask someone: a colleague, or a co-worker to fill in for you?
Take some time to prepare for the holidays before it actually happens. Think about packing a few days ahead of time – don’t leave it for the last moment. Make a list of things you think are necessary, and whenever a new item comes to your mind, put it down. Packing can be a very stressful activity, so don’t make it worse by waiting until the last day.
Speaking of things not to do on the last moment – reserve some time to actually getting to the airport or station. Leave early just to be on the safe side and not get surprised by traffic or road accidents. Even if you manage to make it on time, you will feel stressed, nervous and exhausted. Things like that can set you off and ruin your journey right at the start.
Take some time to adjust
If you’re feeling sleepy, irritable and your head is killing you, you might be experiencing a jet lag, which is the effect of a sudden change of time zone. Don’t forget that your body needs some time to get accustomed. They say you need as many days to settle in a new place, as many hours there are between your home time zone and that of your destination. Get some sleep, go for a walk, don’t pace yourself to do anything – it will get better with time.
Turn off your mobile
If you’re planning to truly have a rest, you know that’s what you should do. Forget about answering business calls, checking your mailbox for new assignments, etc. If you’re on your holidays – be on holidays.
If you want to have a stress-free holidays, let yourself take a rest from the information chaos. Things like answering emails, browsing the internet, reading news and so on. On a daily basis, we tend not to notice how much tension this uninterrupted stream of information is causing. And whenever something happens, you’re expected to act on it. Respond to it, or otherwise relate to it. While on holidays, you deserve a small rehab from all of this. Let your mind wind down, release the tension and enjoy the moment.
Think about what a beautiful place you found yourself in. Focus on what is happening around you, enjoy the picturesque views and breathe the fresh air. Just feel the touch of soft sand beneath your feet and enjoy it. Try engaging in some physical activity to loosen your body. After all, the translator’s bread and butter is mostly sedentary work! Choose something to your liking and have some fun with it.
When working on your own, it is easy to fall into the trap of being available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many entrepreneurs and freelancers, especially beginners, do not want to lose a single client. It’s hardly surprising, but eventually comes with a price. Each order is the opportunity to earn extra money. But does more work always mean more money? Not necessarily. Non-stop work is a straight way to professional burnout in the long run. Without a proper dose of rest, our efficiency decreases. It can be the biggest challenge for a freelancer to break away from everyday duties and allow yourself to truly relax. However, letting it happen is an investment that will bring you new energy and motivation to work.