Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with more direct clients on a wide range of tasks: consulting, recruiting, managing, interpreting, and translating.
However, hearing what non-translators think of professional linguists… was not always pretty. Take a look at some of the comments I’ve heard from different buyers:
- We’re an exclusive crowd. We can be difficult to talk to, hard to reach, and suspicious of outsiders (even though they are our potential clients).
- We’re not the most flexible. In the interest of portraying confidence and defending our “turf,” we’re frequently unwilling to budge in any area of negotiation—which leaves the client wondering where their side of the win-win went.
- We are openly hostile towards technology. And it scares aware customers who aren’t sure why we’d take that stance, even though it could soothe some of those negotiation points.
- We’re quirky. Sometimes a positive trait, sometimes a negative.
- We’re incredibly intelligent. When we finally get talking, it’s clear we know a lot about our subject areas, languages, and cultures.
- We help people move forward with their lives. People come to us with serious roadblocks to their business, immigration, healthcare needs… you name it. And when we can remove those for them, it’s a major relief.
I offer these as some free market research for all my fellow linguists (in the United States, at least), along with a challenge:
Let’s use the positive comments to our advantage, and change the negatives for the better. Lead with your knowledge, ask intelligent questions, and let people know you’re ready and willing to help them communicate. Talk to local business owners. Correct the myths about our industry.
We do amazing things every day. Our reputation should match that!
Have you heard these comments before? Do any of these surprise you? How do you address the good, the bad, and the ugly in your business interactions?