Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Under Pressure: Stress Management in Translation Companies

“You’ll never see translation on any buzz-lists of the world’s most stressful professions. But the trade does still carry its own peculiar – and very real – blend of pressures and strains.

Constant deadlines. Lack of control. Fear of failure. Unreasonable demands. Too much criticism. Not enough praise. All of the above plus financial instability and job insecurity, if you’re a freelancer. A certain level of stress is no bad thing in itself, of course. In a deadline-driven profession like translation, where perfectionism is an asset but also an obstacle, it can even be a positive spur. But when it becomes constant and unmanageable for a sustained length of time, that’s when it can start to affect physical and mental health – not to mention job satisfaction, productivity and, ultimately, the bottom line.

As employers, translation companies can never remove all causes of stress. Tight deadlines, subjective feedback and unrealistic demands from clients are part of the landscape and will never go away. What we can and must do, however, is empower our employees and suppliers to keep stress within healthy limits – and give them as much support as possible if it ever does get out of hand.”

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