When I started out 2014 feeling slightly jaded from the effects of electing to work during the holiday period, and finally got around to formulating a few resolutions two weeks after everyone else, it occurred to me that this year, more than any other, seemed conducive to more open, and more frequent, communication.
This is not to say that I suddenly decided it was time I started talking to people, or that I had some revolutionary, inspirational message I was burning to convey to the world. Rather, I wanted to acknowledge in action, if you like, how much I appreciate the conversations, good humour and productive exchanges that others afford me.
It occurs to me that yesterday and today – and the preceding week – ticked over in a manner which I am happy to call the new normal: Days are just as busy as ever, but populated with interactions which I find uplifting, and hope the same is true of those with whom I come in contact.
I participated in a discussion today via that strange medium called an online meeting. It was strange because it was audio only. No nice visuals, like on Skype, although the person chairing the meeting did show us a lot of nice things on his computer screen. We just had to imagine from the voices what the others looked like. That can be fun, but dealing with several disembodied voices all at once, and then hearing your own voice becoming progressively disembodied is an intense experience, particularly for someone like me who has never really liked speaking on the telephone.
In response to a previous post, a friend gave me a yoga exercise to try to get in touch with my “soft voice” better. The real me, in other words. She will be interested to know that I voiced a modified “Ha!” during the meeting. Another cause for an unseen smile on my side of the screen.
Before the meeting, I was under the impression that attendees were to number four, but it turned out there were six in the meeting, of whom only four spoke. I spoke, of course. I cannot help myself. I am curious about things, and also feel I have something to share.
It was the first meeting of its kind I have attended, but not because of it being online: It was a meeting between a translation agency and the end client. No crisis, no tension; just a general meeting to discuss things generally. If audio was not strange enough, it was made stranger still, because in order to protect the identity of the translators from the end client, we were given codes, so that the chairperson would know who was speaking. He would know who was speaking because, presumably, we translators have been codified for some time. We are known (in the camp of the end client, at any rate) by the translations we produce. [Allison transmogrifies into a translation.] The only other person to laugh in the meeting apart from me made me give a broad unseen grin when he introduced himself by his real first name, and then told us his code name. My name was inadvertently mentioned by one of the agency representatives too, but I suppose that is unavoidable if you are assigned an unpronounceable code.
The meeting was helpful in that it clarified a few things for the translators, and helps to further the aims of the end client, while the agency representatives, who appeared largely to have observer status at the meeting, were obviated of the necessity of being communication intermediaries in this particular instance. Will it help me improve the quality of the work I produce? Yes, because the voice of the end client is now in my mind, and when I agonise over two different ways of translating something (both correct, just in case non translators are wondering), I will remember his voice, his speech patterns, and intonation, and know which of the possible two versions I have identified is most likely to remain unedited by this editor-in-chief.
The point is that we human beings like to recognise a face and to know and remember a name. We do not communicate in the manner described above by choice. In this case, it was the most efficient way, thanks to technology, that two parties who seldom ever have the opportunity to speak to each other (translator and end client/client of the agency) got to do so, and to our possible mutual benefit. Given the choice, however, I know what I would like: face to face in the real world, preferably over coffee, or something more civilised, if there is such a thing.
Given my wonderfully early start to the day, and my rule (deadlines notwithstanding) to stop working when my productivity slumps below a certain level, I went for an afternoon power nap. As I was trying to set my smartphone alarm, I accidentally took a photo. It is of João’s wheelchair. As you call tell, disembodied as it seems here, it tells you nothing of the person she is.
Coincidentally, today would have been the birthday of the boss I remember with the greatest fondness. He was a master at discerning the measure of a man – with or without a visual. He was also the one who, by example, taught me how to craft a truly excellent business letter.