Being Kind to Each Other

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As yet another great year comes to an end -- both in terms of business and personal lives -- we are grateful, as always, for all the lovely clients, friends, and colleagues in our lives. 

Unfortunately, we've noticed that oftentimes in our industry we can be quite harsh with one another, for no particular reason and without any apparent goal. You know what we are talking about: the unnecessary, oftentimes nasty exchanges on listservs, the snarky Twitter posts, the blog posts mocking new software that someone doesn't agree with and therefore chooses to ridicule. We think that this behavior, although it is thankfully relatively rare, is damaging to our industry as a whole. 

So we'd like to propose the following: for 2015, let's all make a New Year's resolution to simply be kind(er) to each other. We are all colleagues and friends, and we are infinitely stronger together than we are when we are divided. Let's honor the bond we all share: languages, and hopefully the respect we have for each other, even when we disagree. We think disagreeing is healthy and necessary, and it is an essential part of intellectual discourse, but there's no reason we can't do so nicely without offending anyone. We've both served on the boards of directors of T&I organizations long enough to know that all the disputes we have helped settle should probably never have happened in the first place -- and could probably have been resolved over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

So are you ready to join us? Next time you want to post something snarky about something a colleague has written, ask yourself: does this serve a purpose? Does this comment advance our industry? Or am I picking a fight just because? Is this comment valuable in the sense that it will spark good debate or is it hurtful and could potentially even be considered libel (we've seen lots of that)? Would I want to see what I wrote on the cover of a national newspaper tomorrow? Would I say this to the other party in person? 

Of course, we are very well aware that this is a wonderful industry, but it could benefit from more kindness. Let's make a commitment to be kind to every single colleague we deal with, especially in a public forum. If there's ever any conflict, we highly recommend resolving the situation one-on-one.

Will you join us? Here's to a happy, successful, and very kind 2015! Have we mentioned we heart all our friends and colleagues?


MChavez on December 31, 2014 at 2:49 PM said...

First off, I'm not a robot, and I wish you ladies the best 2015 that can be.

There's a Spanish proverb: “Lo cortés no quita lo valiente” and I try to live by it. If we were all clones of the kindest person ever born, then I would find reason to endorse the idealistic goal to be agreeable to each other.

However, I wonder if some of us wishfully hopes that our profession is some kind of brotherhood/sisterhood, where an individual action can bring prosperity or ruin in the aggregate. It's a nice sentiment, but it flies in the face of who we are: fallible humans with a variety of personalities.

There is no universal sense of humor. What a Japanese translator might think funny, a Swedish or French linguist might take umbrage to, even if the joke was offered with the best of intentions. This is inescapable.

Honest intellectual discussion is, by definition, a debate, not a celebration of agreements or the crowning of the most popular or politically correct opinion or position.

I will continue to accompany you in 2015 as I think your influence shines on positive aspects across the worlds of language we all inhabit. Thank you.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on January 3, 2015 at 9:31 AM said...

@MChavez: Many thanks for the lovely and very kind comment. We very much appreciate it. And you make some excellent point about jokes and humor -- very tough to understand/appreciate if people are from different cultures. :) And yes, we know you are not a robot -- you are an awesome colleague. Google just wants to make sure. Happy 2015 to you as well and how wonderful that we have such fab colleagues. Here's to a successful and kind new year. (Turns out Google also asks us if we are robots when we comment on our own blog -- too funny.)

Jeff Alfonso on January 6, 2015 at 9:28 AM said...

I think we can all benefit from being more positive. It never hurts to examine our motives and the possible impact of what we say.
I think we should be respectful and good to others and kind when it is possible.
Thank you for the challenge! Kindness is a great goal to work on!

This isn't such an easy task for an impulsive passionate and opinionated person like myself who tends to react quickly and say what I think.
So since I respect you as a friend and value your opinion, if you think I have gone too far on social media, please private message me and tell me so. :)

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on January 6, 2015 at 9:19 PM said...

@Jeff: Thanks for your lovely comment. You are such a great presence in our industry because of the fact (among other things) that you are wonderful, honest, direct, outspoken, and yet kind and always respectful. And you always bring us amazing cookies to the ATA conference -- what is there not to like? Saying what you think is almost always a great way to handle yourself. Thanks for reading and for commenting, we love colleagues like you!

Chani Demuijlder on January 7, 2015 at 3:04 AM said...

I am joining! Of course it is important to be kind and polite. Always. In the street, shops, with the neighbors - and online. I do not see why we should be allowed to be less respectful online than on the street... Not only because it damages our industry as a whole and your reputation in particular, but also because life would not be possible without a minimum of kindness. There are so many naughty people out there, more of them are not needed, really. ;-)

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on January 7, 2015 at 9:59 AM said...

@Chani: We agree with you 100%! Sometimes people might feel that it's ok to be impolite online because there's more of a technological barrier and they end up saying things that they would not say in person, which we don't think is a very good idea. This surely is a good test: if you wouldn't say something to the colleague in person, you probably should not do so online either. Thanks for reading and for commenting, and here's to kindness and to working together! Ours is such a lovely industry and we are lucky and delighted to be in it.

All Graduates | German Translation Services on January 7, 2015 at 9:59 PM said...

Agree to this post 100% The industry is competitive, with a lot of translators and interpreters doing what they can to earn. However, there is also the need to uplift the quality of the industry so that clients will view translators on a professional and dignified level.

Chani Demuijlder on January 8, 2015 at 1:17 AM said...

@Judy and Dagmar,
I must say that I never understood why some people may think that this "technological barrier" should be a license to be less polite. The people you meet online are not virtual, they are real: you can meet them on a conference tomorrow, they can become your clients next month. Just like the people I meet when I walk with my dog...

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on January 9, 2015 at 12:47 PM said...

@Chani: We agree, and we don't understand that point of view at all. For some reason, though, some internet users think they can ignore their good manners. One must only look at comments to YouTube videos as proof, which is very sad. But of course you are very much correct: our colleagues are very much real! With that: off to the dog park in a bit. Have a great weekend!

Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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