10 Jan Enjoying the Process
Recently, I was watching the “Special Features” on a DVD my kids were enjoying. One of the costume designers was interviewed and spoke about how her role was to put forth her best efforts and hope everything worked out and the film was a success. She realizes something that is true to our roles as interpreters, and that’s that we aren’t in control of every aspect of the matters we participate in. The designer’s sage advice was to thoroughly enjoy the process. How can we apply that to our work? Let’s take a look at just a few of the many ways to have a better day.
Understand the value we add
Regardless of where we work as interpreters, it’s easy to take our task for granted. We forget the level of expertise that we’ve developed and how what we do makes a process possible. Interpreters often pride themselves in achieving true ‘invisibility’ by performing well and avoiding becoming a distraction or disrupting the flow of communication. In fact, we don’t expect much in the way of thanks and praise; we’re just doing our jobs. This makes it incumbent upon us to stand back and realize the value we add and pat ourselves on the back once in a while. When we understand that we’re a quiet yet powerful force in the room, we can see how important we are, and that’s a great way to keep ourselves positive and ready for the next challenge.
Work on being a positive influence
Even when we’re able to handle vicarious trauma, stress, and negativity, those around us may not be so adept at it. Their attitudes could tend to rub off on us, making for an environment full of drama. Although it may be easier to keep to ourselves and choose to be inwardly happy-go-lucky, spreading the good vibes is a simple way to multiply our efforts. An interpreter friend of mine has the reputation for being the ‘cheerleader’ wherever she goes, and her positive influence makes for a better work setting for everyone around her. Even if we’re not naturally so outgoing, simple and heartfelt friendly gestures can suffice to rid our surroundings of unnecessary negativity. We can even start dressing up a bit more or even revamp the old work wardrobe for a non-verbal positive image. On a more personal level, we have to remember to surround ourselves with those who choose to see the workplace in a positive way. All are ways to see our own attitudes improve even in the darkest of days.
Think, then speak
Piggy-backing off of the suggestion to be a positive influence is the notion of not being a naysayer. As we try to enjoy the process of the work we do every day, our own worst enemy can be our thoughts. If we can challenge ourselves to thinking positively, we could deter negative words from working their way into our conversations. We can commit to finding the proper time and place for our thoughts to be expressed, and by thinking before we speak we can often prevent a situation from becoming worse than it may already be. Even the slightest comment can open the door for others to start a war of words, which in turn can make for a real bummer of a work day.
Look forward to new challenges
Things are changing around us all the time, and a natural reaction is to resist change. If instead of pushing back we invite new challenges, we are taking control of the situation at least for ourselves. Looking forward isn’t just being accepting and tolerant; it’s about affirming our commitment to be our best even at the slightest hint that our ability is about to be put to the test. Whether or not we are in control of the tasks we could be expected to perform on any one day, we should mentally prepare to be surprised with a difficult one. This both keeps us on our toes and allows us to be open to experiencing situations to their fullest. By constantly preparing, the process of what we do in a day becomes anything but routine.
Remember how fortunate we are
Our ability to work between two languages and cultures within interesting environments is nothing to shake a stick at. Surely we’ve all known somebody who wishes they could be in our shoes, and we all probably started our journey by finding this profession to be exciting and fascinating. Let’s remember this even when we’re having a particularly difficult or mundane or maddening day. My distaste for Mondays and over-the-top busy weeks does not come from disliking what I do, but from the push to be in too many places at once, fight traffic, deal with paperwork, and so on. If we can separate out the yuck and instead delight in the moments when we’re performing at our best, it’ll be easier to recognize our good fortune.
Our role is both mighty big and mighty small within the grand scheme of things. Without our skills, understanding could be hampered, but even when we give our top performance, a myriad of other factors goes into making somebody’s medical appointment, parent-teacher conference, court date, or business meeting either a huge success or a total flop. Much like when we stop to smell the roses, when we recognize that we are not in control of everything, our minds and hearts become free to concentrate on our part and enjoy the process.