I’ve been spurred on to write this post by the warm reception to a tweet I posted last week, commenting how nice it is when clients take the trouble to pass on good feedback about our work. This one little tweet received 56 likes (for which many thanks!), but above all, it just goes to show how much we all appreciate it when people value what we do.
As freelancers, we often work in isolation, with very little contact with clients and colleagues other than by e-mail. Even if editors or proofreaders review our work, how often do people actually make the effort to get back to us and praise our work? As my client commented when I wrote back to say how much I’d appreciated her kind words, “people are generally much quicker to point out when they’re not happy…”. So very true. We are very used to receiving constructive criticism, to say nothing of misplaced corrections of our work by non-native speakers or over-zealous proofreaders determined to wield the red pen to maximum effect to prove their worth, but it’s rare that people bother to pass on good feedback – which is such a shame.
I always ask clients to come back to me with any queries when I return translations, but I wouldn’t dream of taking up their time by sending a feedback survey or anything so formal. Perhaps others do? Yet, we do need to know what they think of our work. We might assume, because they keep coming back for more, that they are happy with what we do, but it’s important to have it confirmed from time to time.
One of my colleagues keeps a file of good feedback from clients to bolster morale when she’s had one of those days where a non-native client has ripped apart her carefully crafted English prose and replaced it with Denglish… Others seek out and post testimonials on their websites – something I keep on meaning to do, but still haven’t got around to! How much better does it make us feel when we receive appreciation for the painstaking work we’ve put in? Certainly much more likely to go the extra mile in future… When you’ve done a good job, it’s immensely satisfying to know that the client values your efforts. I certainly don’t think it’s a case of blowing our own trumpet or feeling smug – even if my cautious Anglosaxon nature is inclined to mutter “pride comes before a fall” and all those other repressively English sayings.
Turning the tables, it’s also worth considering whether we are careful to return the favour when we outsource translations or revise the work of others. Do we pass on praise where it’s due and make sure our colleagues feel appreciated in turn? It really isn’t hard to say “I loved the way you translated xyz” or to thank someone for going above and beyond the call of duty. It fosters a good working relationship and encourages people to want to go the extra mile – a gulf apart from simply returning a file with tracked changes or merely acknowledging receipt.
I had cause recently to pass on some comments from a client to a translator I’d outsourced a project to, and it struck me that the comments had been cold and clinical, not at all what I’d want to receive in a similar situation. I wrote back to the client pointing out (in the nicest possible way!) that the translator had put herself out considerably, working evenings and weekends, and rearranging her half-term activities, to accommodate the client’s ever-changing requests, which went way beyond what we’d been told at the outset. They duly wrote back, apologising profusely, asking me to pass on their thanks to the translator – which I was happy to do. It doesn’t hurt to make people feel appreciated – and definitely oils the wheels of business.
So next time you receive a particularly nice piece of feedback from a client or colleague, don’t just let it warm the cockles of your heart. By all means file it away for future reference, or stick it in your testimonials folder, but also make sure you pass on those positive vibes too and give credit where it’s due. Praise indeed…