Learning to say NO in the kindest way possible
Mihaela is a young, enthusiastic interpreter and translator. She has a BA in Applied Modern Languages and an MA in Conference Interpreting, her language combination being English, French, Spanish and Romanian.
Soon after graduating in 2015, she had the privilege of being selected by the European Commission to do a traineeship in translation in Luxembourg. The professional and technical skills acquired during that period helped her gain added value and encouraged her to become more flexible and embrace new challenges as they come.
She specialises mainly in the fields of medicine, higher education, social sciences and performing arts, but she always keeps the door open for stimulating topics.
Her favourite activities include spending time with family and friends, taking long walks and/while travelling, cooking and reading.
Guest post by Mihaela Iușan.
When you are a part-time interpreter and translator, a PhD candidate and the mother of a ten‑month-old, you soon learn that time is an even more relative concept than it used to be. Having to split your energy between family, work, friends and yourself (hoping there is still something left in there for you ) should make you an expert in setting priorities. I must confess I haven’t got there yet, but I definitely hope to some day.
Still, I’m more aware that there’s only one of me and plenty out there in need of something, which has forced me to learn to say NO whenever I realise I can’t accommodate everyone’s urgencies. In fact, this has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do for at least two reasons: firstly, because I absolutely love my work (I’m always eager to learn about a new medical procedure, to delve into the analysis of a theological or philosophical concept or to have a go at a piece of literature) and secondly, because I hate it when I have to turn down people.
However, I actually found out that saying NO can have more than one positive effect. On the one hand, you gain more time to do fewer things, which means you can be more involved in those things, enjoy them more and rest assured you’re offering the best you can and this should make you happier. On the other hand, you can also make some fellow translators merrier because you pass some work on to them.
Yes, I DO turn to other interpreters or translators when I can’t take someone up on a job offer. The reasons are simple: you should never allow anyone to leave without trying to give that person a helpful hand and the chances are you will find a good professional quicker than the client or at least you are part of a network that will enable you to find someone even if it’s a language combination you don’t work with. Networking (a possible subject for a different blog post?) is indeed essential for me as, in John Donne’s words, “No man is an island entire of itself” and I believe this very well applies to interpreters and translators.
To sum up, saying no DOESN’T MEAN you’re a bad person and it doesn’t have to mean an unhappy client. Instead, what it DOES mean is that you respect yourself, your dear ones, your colleagues and your clients and that you are offering the best solution you can under certain given circumstances.