Understanding freelance interpreters: Sisyphus myth or an opportunity for bonding?
Getting people to understand interpreting is something I do often when quoting an event, with both novice and veteran contractors. Yet, for a long time, I admit I felt a bit frustrated. I felt that explaining and defending my practices as a freelance interpreter closely resembled the task of Sisyphus. The myth of Sisyphus, belonging to Greek mythology, results from the posthumous punishment of Sisyphus for treason to the gods. In the land of the dead, he was forced to push a rock to the top of the mountain, from where it would roll back to the starting point. In the past, I used to feel that explaining my best practice would never really end.
A New Approach in Explaining Best Practice in Interpreting
Over the past few years, I decided to change my approach to explaining good practice. I began to think that I would put forward the benefits of real interpreting; defend good practices and negotiate in a favourable way for both parties with a guarantee of good working conditions for the good of the event. This new approach made me see this as an opportunity to strengthen my ties with potential contractors. This is how I did it and the actions I took in each situation detailed below:
1. I do not need a professional, only a person who is fluent in French and English
The right approach: “The event has strategic value for the positioning of its company within its field of activity. Therefore, it is important to ensure the quality of the message to be passed to the audience that needs simultaneous interpretation. Freelance interpreters are essential to mediate communication between people who are not fluent in the same languages. Count on my professional interpreting services to meet the communication needs of the event. ”
Result: Approved budget and scheduled event.
2. I do not need a professional … speaking both languages is enough. The meeting will be informal
The right approach: “The timing of a product presentation to potential customers is unique and deserves careful planning in every detail, from the assembly of the list of guests to the choice of the buffet. So a well-prepared event will be more effective with the work of professional interpreters to serve as bridges of communication between people who do not speak the same language. My company is able to offer the simultaneous interpreting services necessary to the success of your event. ”
3. The interpretation lasts only 4 hours, an interpreter alone will suffice
The right approach: “According to most European Legal Interpreters and Translators Associations, interpreters should work alone for a limit of 1 hour in a conference and 2 hours in external accompaniments. This recommendation is the result of studies that demonstrate the performance of the interpreters and loss of message quality after the periods mentioned above. That way, to ensure the quality of communication in the event, it is necessary that two interpreters relay each other. ”
Result: approved budget, scheduled event and customer loyalty that contracted services in 2018 and this year.
4. Is there no difference in the rate for hiring 2 or 6 hours of work?
“When booking an event, unfortunately, I am unable to book other events with other customers. It is simply impossible to ‘fit’ two or more customers over a day’s work. Therefore, the daily rate is unchanged if the actual working period is less than a 6-hour indivisible journey, sorry. ”
Result: approved budget, scheduled event and customer loyalty that contracted services in 2019.
In conclusion, when business practices are discussed, it is an opportunity to improve the quality of your communication with your customers. It is particularly helpful in strengthening your professional ties with them.
All of the above customer arguments were helpful in changing my approach. You can do it too. Being able to provide the customer with a better understanding of the work and practices of interpreters will no longer be a Sisyphus task but an opportunity to bond with your customers.