I like taking online personality tests, from the really silly ones on Buzzfeed (e.g. what house should you live in or what’s your hidden nationality), to a bit more serious ones, like http://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test. Most of the time it’s just pure fun and distraction from work, but the more I work, the more I’m convinced that our personalities do have an impact on how we work and our translation career.
In this article, I wanted to look at differences between introverts and extroverts, to a certain extent sparked by an article I saw by a translation agency where they suggested translators are mostly introverted and interpreters – extroverted. Now, believe it or not, I’m an introvert. How does that impact my translation career? Am I loosing out on extroverts? Let’s find out.
Being an introvert, I pride myself in great attention to detail and unparalleled abilities to focus on the task at hand. I don’t mind locking myself up for six hours without any human contact to get the job done, and I have absolutely no problems with logging off Facebook and Twitter for that time. Yes, most likely I do finish the job quicker and maybe I make fewer mistakes, so there is some impact on my translation career.
But I need your inputs here, extroverts! How do you translate? Are you able to concentrate on one task? Do you work better if you are on Facebook and can shift focus to a different task for a few seconds only to get back to translating with a new bout of energy?
On a more general note, would you agree that translators tend to be introverted? And is that reflected in the end product? The impact of personality on translation is open to a debate.
Once more often, now I only occasionally do interpreting. When I do, I feel the pressure the evening before, I feel even more pressure on my way there, and also a bit of disorientation when I finally get to the place. I know I’m prepared, but I also know I’m going to meet strangers, I don’t know how they’re going to react and whether everything is going to go smoothly. I also feel I’m not in my own environment so I can’t control it, but this may have nothing to do with introversion, this may be just my control issue.
In turn, when I asked my good colleague who’s interpreting much more often than I do (one of those born interpreters, you see), she doesn’t feel any of this. Stage fright doesn’t exist, she’s used to hearing her own voice and she doesn’t mind, she enjoys the thrill of travelling and staying at a different hotel every time.
Do you think that this is the case and extroverts are simply better suited to do interpreting?
I’m very bad at phone calls and I’d never do any cold calling unless I absolutely had to. My aversion to telephone calls used to be so big that I’d rather go and visit my relatives to pass a message on from my parents than actually make a phone call. Of course, this got better over the years, but I still can’t imagine calling strangers. Sometimes I also write abrupt emails that may come across cold or rude. I attribute this to my introversion. I also find it hard to be nice or friendly on demand.
Do extroverts do any better? I think they may be in a winning position here. Extroverts I know like talking to others, don’t mind strangers, and often are open in their approach. They tend to be friendly and seen as easy-going. Would you agree? And would that impact their translation career?
Inbound marketing, or attracting visitors to my website using content, is what I do best. I’d much rather write three articles in a night than send out offers to potential clients, even though I know I have to reach out to prospects to see some results. I feel I’m better at creating useful content than promoting it all over the place.
Extroverts I came across, to a large extent, are the opposite. They’re great at promoting, sharing, publicising, inviting, reaching out, but can’t really sit down to write this short article they promised themselves to publish last month. Would you say this is the case? And if it is, what’s ‘better’?
If you’re an introvert like me, you probably have a weird relationship with the word ‘networking’. This is definitely something I had to learn and I still remember the first professional networking event I went to (an innocent Tweetup!), where I was feeling so awkward that I almost never made it. It’s not like I’m avoiding social situations, but they just drain my energy levels to zero. Every event, every conference, every workshop, I go back home exhausted and need at least two days to regain my balance.
Extroverts seem to be the opposite. They thrive during translation conferences and events, and feel great when they go to network with potential clients. They feel even more energised after such a social event. In there, I think they’re definitely in a better situation then introverts and their translation career may benefit.
Where do you fit? Would you say you’re an introvert or extrovert? And do you think it impacts your translation career?