How being shy can cause setbacks to your translation career

April 29, 2014
How being shy can cause setbacks to your translation career

Being shy is something that affects between 40-60% of adults, according to shyness expert Steve Bressert PH.D. While 10-15% of infants are born ‘inhibited,’ for the majority of people shyness is a learned characteristic. As something learned, shyness is also something that can be overcome, thoughe to achieve. 

The consequences of overcoming shyness can be very rewarding, on both a personal and a professional level. Here we look at how being shy can cause setbacks to your translation career and will hopefully inspire readers to take action to improve their confidence levels. 

Money, money, money

Being shy can lead to a reluctance to raise certain subjects. Often, shy translators find it hard to bring up the subject of money with their clients. This can lead to confusion around pricing and – if the translator is unable to be bold during monetary discussions – lower rates than he or she might otherwise like to receive. It can also mean that delays to the payment of invoices are not followed up as swiftly as they should be. 

The solution 

Translators need to practice talking about their rates and other financial matters, so don’t be afraid to use friends and family members as a sounding board in this respect. Become more confident at discussing financial matters and you will find that doing so reaps rewards. As a translator you provide a professional service and you deserve to be paid accordingly. 

Sourcing new clients

Meredith Whitten observes on PsychCentral that shyness, “can have a severe impact on adult situations, such as finding and advancing in a job.” Shy translators are less likely than confident ones to advertise their services and be forthright in approaching new clients. The result is that those who are prepared to ‘shout louder’ will usually go home with new work, while shyer translators will find themselves lacking in clients. 

The solution(s) 

1. If you find the idea of cold-calling terrifying, but need new clients, prepare a script for yourself and view the first few calls you make as practice opportunities. 

2. Don’t judge yourself harshly. You are learning a new skill and that takes time. New client wins will gradually help to build confidence in this area. 

3. If you are truly too shy to pick up the phone, then be sure that your online presence is second to none, so that you stand out from the competition in writing, even if you don’t verbally.

Clarifying queries

According to research reported by psychologists Lynne Hamilton and Philip Zimbardo, shy adults may find it difficult to assert themselves in the workplace. For shy translators, this can mean they find it tricky to raise issues that need clarifying with their clients or in dealing with problems that arise. 
Often, small matters that should have been assertively raised and tackled early on in a job can lead to larger issues as the job progresses, making it essential that translators learn to be more confident in this respect. 

The solution 

There are many books and courses available on how to improve your self-confidence and become more assertive. If you find it difficult to raise queries with your clients and to tackle tricky conversations, it might just be time to reach out for help from the experts in order to enhance your self-assurance. 

How has being shy impacted on your translation career? Share your experience with our community by using the comment box. 

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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