Ten Things You Must Never Do to Your Colleagues

By Maria Cristina de la Vega

Reblogged from the NAJIT Blog with permission

Maria Cristina de la Vega was a leader in the field of interpreting. She encouraged many newcomers in her lifetime through her blogging and involvement in ATA and NAJIT. It is in memory of her that we reblog this article, originally posted on the NAJIT Blog. To read the In Memoriam posted on the NAJIT Blog following her passing, please click here.

    1. Do not give advice freely, even if you think it would be helpful, unless you are specifically asked for it.  It is far better to just lend an ear. Most people just need a sounding board to express their thoughts and come to a decision about events in their lives, professional or otherwise.
    2. Do not refuse to share resources.  If you can help to make an assignment come off better with the product of your research, don’t hold back. It will make you look better to your colleague and the team better to the audience.  Remember that if your partner is not up to par for some reason, you will be judged together, not necessarily separately.  I am not, however, by any means condoning interpreters who consciously fail to do their part.
    3. Do not increase on-site drama by making unnecessary comments about the assignment, players, conditions, etc. If it’s a tough gig, you have enough on your hands without revving up the emotions, which will not improve anything  and only serve to put everyone more on edge.  Strive to put everyone at ease, focusing on the positive.
    4. Do not give work recommendations unless you are fully in agreement with doing so. Do not cave-in out of embarrassment.  It is better to blush once, if necessary,  than to have a permanent red face over possible fallout.
    5. Do not show off, either by hogging the microphone, speaking of past assignments, dropping names, etc. You don’t need to forcefully demonstrate how good you are.  Others will form their opinion of you based on your unaffected performance.
    6. Do not be late. There are very few, if any excuses in my book for this, and it speaks volumes about you both professionally and personally. You may be the best interpreter in the world but if I can’t count on you when I need you, it doesn’t matter.
    7. Do not show up unprepared. Even if you don’t have specific direction as to how to study for an assignment, there is always some generic research that can be done to help you navigate more easily through a difficult job. If you have a reputation for prepping, it will precede you favorably with both clients and colleagues.
    8. Do not gossip. Either about colleagues, clients or assignments.  There is absolutely no upside to this and you will be classified by others accordingly.
    9. Do not share personal information regarding clients, fees, payment practices & conditions. The scales of justice are not balanced on your shoulders.  Each professional needs to sort this out and you are not the arbiter.
    10. Do not force yourself into the lives of others, be it clients, colleagues or otherwise.  If you are interested in a relationship, put your best foot forward and show it but don’t overdo it. The Universe is at least as smart as we are and will choose who we should be with at any particular time for our own good. Remember that everything happens for a reason.

Readers, what advice do you have about how interpreting colleagues should (or should not) work together?

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