A Career-Preserving Skill

Image from www.canva.com. 
For today's quick post, we wanted to focus on a skill that's relatively easy to master.  All it takes is a few sentences, sincerity, and heart. However, its importance and impact are often forgotten.

All translators and interpreters are human, and as such, we make mistakes (see our previous post on Judy's mistake of the month). During some point in your career, you will make mistakes. Plenty of mistakes. We all do. They key is avoiding making the same one twice. The other key is making sure you apologize. 
Here are some thoughts in easy-to-read format:

  • Just do it, do it quickly, and mean it.
  • Be sincere and offer solutions.
  • As mortifying as it is to make mistakes, they happen. They are part of business, and part of life.
  • Take responsibility and accept that making mistakes is normal and human. 
  • Offer a discount if necessary and count your lucky stars if you client doesn't take you up on it.
  • It doesn't matter if it's a translation error, administrative error, if someone else made the error and somehow you are involved: 
    • apologize quickly
    • explain how you can fix the situation
    • and move on.

What do you think, dear colleagues? Meaningful and truthful apologies usually go a long way, even if sometimes all you can offer is: "Sorry about the oversight. While I investigate what happened here, let me offer my sincere apologies and a 10% discount on this project." We'd love to hear your thoughts!


MChavez on June 17, 2015 at 7:51 PM said...

I agree that offering an effective apology is a good life skill. I've had several opportunities to put it into good use. Now, here's a thought:

To err is human, right? But what do you do when the customer, user, etc. just overreacts, closes your account, rescinds an agreement or otherwise stops talking to you because of a mistake? I'm not talking about illegal stuff or an unforgivable sin, or rationalizing the mistake. You erred, you offered a sincere, timely and effective apology, with an extra helping of help, yet your customer, colleague, user, etc. just refuses to deal with you. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Angela Benoit on June 18, 2015 at 6:58 AM said...

Agreed 2000%, Judy & Dagy! Just yesterday I invoiced a client for $430 instead of $180 by mistake. It wasn't a translation error or problem with services rendered, but it was still unpleasant. It did not reflect the type of experience I want to offer my clients. I apologized sincerely and stopped everything I was doing to fix my invoice.

The source of the error? I was looking at the wrong Excel tab.

Once the error was fixed, we went back to having a great business relationship. And I placed a sticky-note beside my computer about Excel tabs for that client.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on June 18, 2015 at 12:16 PM said...

@MChavez: Thanks for reading and for commenting. Yes, a good apology is always a good thing and usually well-received.

That said, unfortunately, the situation you describe might not have a solution, at least not one that you can control. There's only so much one can do, and sounds like everything has been done (apology, etc.) As unsatisfactory as it may be, we think sometimes you just have to accept the outcome, even if it's not one that you like. Ultimately, the only behavior you can influence is your own. It's very disappointing if the other party doesn't forgive and move on, but if that's the case, one has no choice but to put the situation behind you and hope it doesn't happen too often. Hope that helps!

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on June 18, 2015 at 12:46 PM said...

@Angela Benoit: Always great to hear from you, dear Angela! Sounds like you did exactly the right thing--well done! Invoicing can be so tricky indeed. We got Translation Office 3000 years ago after Judy managed to send a highly incorrect invoice to one of our best clients (wrong amount, wrong project, wrong date, wrong service; yikes!) and it really cuts down on human error. That is fantastic news indeed that you continue to have a great relationship with the client in question. Well done and well deserved! See you in Miami?

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