Managing criticism is part of life and resilience is an aspect of emotional intelligence that I believe should be part of the curricula of schools and colleges everywhere. We need tools to accept feedback positively to enable us to grow as people and professionals without feeling wounded and losing sleep.
The other day a translator friend telephoned me in floods of tears after being rejected for a job on the grounds that she had used ‘indecent’ language in a translation test. The offending word was ‘aroused’, which she had used in a sense of ‘aroused interest’. The proofreader must have been a non-native speaker, have learned English from erotic literature or had a very poor vocabulary! Although my friend has been a full-time translator for 20 years, she still took it personally and was extremely upset at having been accused of using profanities, but, I asked her, is this worth crying over? Do you really want to spend your time and effort trying to please this customer? Take it as a welcome red light, a warning…
Translation is subjective and an art rather than a science, but the industry has become highly automated. Communication, constructive criticism and collaboration are often replaced by automated emails and anonymous feedback, which may or may not be justified. There is (virtually) no contact between translators and customers, making it is almost impossible to get clarification or build a relationship.
Criticism can burn. Even if you have translated tens of thousands of words for satisfied customers, being rejected or dumped can be crushing. However, the good news is that you really can learn to handle it like the pro. Look at salespeople! If they burst into tears and locked themselves in their bedrooms with a box of chocolates every time they got rejected, they’d all be fat and miserable.
It isn’t necessarily your fault because it could be the ‘relationship’ that went awry. Or perhaps your skills were not 100% right for that particular task or maybe your writing just wasn’t to the taste of that particular customer and the problem was due to the mismatch. On the other hand, if you undertook a task and were not an expert in the industry and unfamiliar with the jargon, this should teach you to recognise your limits and stick to what you know. In my friend’s case, she was obviously dealing with a critical, ignorant person, and critical, ignorant people cannot always be satisfied. There’s no need to show them they are wrong, just move on.
Take inspiration from the words of Mike Norton: “Master yourself and become king of the world around you. Let no odds, chastisement, exile, doubt, fear, or ANY mental virii prevent you from accomplishing your dreams. Never be a victim of life; be its conqueror.”