09 Mar 2020

Introducing the #GoSlowInterpreter Movement

Introducing the #GoSlowInterpreter Movement

This is a new series of tips and recommendations for interpreters, but from a different angle, an often-neglected one. I will not say the word, lest some of you are panic-stricken and stop reading immediately. Just guess…

I decided to call this series the #GoSlowIntepreter movement. My goal is to share some of the insight and reflections I have drawn from my experience as a conference and consultant interpreter, in the hope of making a contribution to improving the quality of our working life.

First, some clarification: #GoSlow doesn’t mean doing or being less, indulging in laziness, or doing everything more slowly. Nothing is further from the truth. Living slowly means being more present in the thousand things you do every day, being more aware that this second is all we have, that the past is gone and the future will never come because, when it does, it will be the present again.

Now, how does this relate to interpreting?

I had conceived the first post of this series as ideas to implement in the #GoSlowIntepreter booth, but since the #coronavirus is creating headlines around the world, I felt I could offer emergency tips . There is now a generalized feeling of unsafety and we are before a real threat to humanity. The event industry has been severely hit. But let us put things in context. Humanity has gone through many epidemics and pandemics before and, ultimately, everything resolves; of course, there will always be collateral damage. That, we cannot avoid. While the scientific world is working against the clock to contain the virus, what can we do?

What does all this mean to us in the context of this #GoSlowIntepreter movement?

When you get your next cancellation, do not panic. Do not stress out, do not become a susceptible host to the virus. Breathe in, breathe out! It has been proven that inhaling and exhaling to the count of four and exhaling to the count of six will slow your heartbeat and trigger positive thinking; visualize positive scenes, like yourself in the booth; focus on healthy emotions, not panic. And think also of taking up yoga or intensifying your yoga practice; it is a time to share and support each other more, giving each other attention and appreciation. And, believe me, resorting to these techniques is necessary. It is extremely difficult for human beings to think positively in the middle of a crisis. The merit belongs to those who can be absolutely certain of something, even if it hasn’t happened yet.

The next step is to use adversity to reflect on where you would like to be in four moths time, for example. Can you use this time to hone down on your interpreting skills? Enhancing one of your C languages? Designing that professional website you never have the time to do?

Once you have decided how to use this time of adversity, you have to take action. This is the most difficult step. Perhaps, the next paragraph will help you see why you have to remain active.

Without breaking any principle of confidentiality, I can tell you something the CEO of a multinational said during a press conference. As interpreters, we tend not to remember many things unless what we hear is significant to us. And this certainly was to me. When asked about the crisis in Argentina, he shrugged and said: “Crisis? I have worked for this company for more than 20 years. Can you imagine how many crises I have witnessed? If there is one recommendation I can give you, it is: The crisis will come to an end and, when it does, you will have to be prepared. The ones who will succeed at that time are those who take advantage of the bust cycle!.

In conclusion, I come from a country where crises are part of our DNA. And I believe this helps, since you become more resilient and are absolutely certain that “this too shall pass”. And, when it does, you will be prepared to rise to the next level in your career. It has worked for me, why wouldn’t it work for you? Certain that we will be in contact again soon on a more positive note, I wish you all well. And remember, here and now is all we have.

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