If you lacked attention to detail, couldn’t follow instructions or deliver on your word, you probably wouldn’t be a language translator. We pride ourselves on this skillset, which is why it can be ego shattering when we make mistakes or let down clients.
Keep in mind, even the best of us mess up! And the good news is that there are several simple ways to minimize this damage and still make clients happy.
The Art of Apology: 5 Tips for Language Translators
Many of us panic when faced with conflict and instead of taking it head on, we delay. This will only exacerbate the situation. Always respond as quickly as possible, preferably by phone so that you can avoid further miscommunication.
Listen, empathize, and ask open questions
Clients usually understand, but they may still need you to be a good listener. If necessary, allow your client to vent, ask open-ended questions and offer convincing evidence that suggests you empathize with their position.
Artful apologies can be powerful, but when they are disingenuous or clichéd, they can actually fan the flame. Let’s be more specific about the wrong kind of apology.
Here are three obvious, but not-so-obvious things about apologies:
- Apology may begin with a feeling, but ultimately, it should manifest in practice…it should be something you can measure.
- Apology is action-centric. It means that we make a commitment to extend ourselves and resolve the problem.
- Apology is grounded in humility. That doesn’t mean you should think less of yourself; it simply means that you treat the person you are apologizing to as essential to your well-being.
Offer a fair form of compensation
The last thing you want to do is lose a client. It’s always easier to retain than it is to find new customers. In addition to apologizing and fixing the mistake, you might send a handwritten card to the client or offer a discount on this project or subsequent ones.
Don’t let it eat at you
We mentioned it before, but silly mistakes are often a blow to the ego. However, if handled correctly, there’s no reason for you to become timid or bring up the error with the client again. More often than not, the client will remember you for your integrity, for how you resolved a difficult situation with grace and poise, not for the mistake you made.