The Interpreter’s Code: Dress, Etiquette – And Confidentiality!
At the most basic level, you hire a team of professional interpreters to communicate your message via the target audience’s preferred language. From a macro perspective, there is so much more going on than that.
From the way your interpreter team looks and dresses, to their personal conduct and the manner by which they handle a wide range of topics and situations – all reflect directly on your company, its message, and your brand.
To put your brand’s best face forward, it is critical that you find and work with a team of interpreters whom you can trust and who “get” what your company stands for.
Interpreting the interpreter’s code of ethics
From the professional, industry-driven level to the personal and intuitive one, there is an interpreter’s code of ethics that should be adhered to at every event in which an interpreter works. You can read AIIC’s specific “Code of Professional Ethics” on your own, but we’ve summed it up for you.
Here are some of the things you should look for – and insist upon – whenever you work with a professional team of interpreters – whether they’re community-based or conference level professionals.
Confidentiality is a must-have
First and foremost, our interpreters abide by a strict adherence to confidentiality. It doesn’t matter whether they’re working with trademarked secrets or interpreting casual conversation at an industry fundraiser – our team considers each individual, situation, subject matter and topic of interest as if it is protected by government security restrictions.
By treating each client, each target audience member and each piece of shared information as completely private and confidential, interpreters never risk “slipping” something they shouldn’t in their professional and personal life.
An important note about our troubled times: You may have read in the news about our unlucky colleague harassed by the press for having recently interpreted at a high-profile political case. In our society where sensationalism is king, an interpreter’s code of ethics requires that they never share their notes taken during an event, documents they may have received from a client or any personal opinion they may have on a particular meeting with even one’s colleagues, friends or spouse – let alone with the competition or the media. If you don’t trust your interpreter, you can’t trust the work they are doing in building bridges and creating ties with your target customers, prospects, clients, other delegates. We at CCA commend this colleague for refusing to divulge any information to the press, regardless of his political views.
Dress code translates to “dress for the occasion”
Yes, we take interpreting very seriously, but that doesn’t mean we advocate dressing in a suit if our Japanese interpreter was hired to work at a casual company luau. On the flip side, of course, an interpreter should probably never welcome a delegation in a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops…
If you opt to hire a freelance interpreter, rather than one who works with a professional language services firm, make sure you are very clear on what the interpreter should and shouldn’t wear so neither you nor they feel embarrassed when it’s time to get to work – or play.
Ethics and honesty are paramount
There are many different approaches and tactics used by interpreters to convey their client’s message to the target audience. The most obvious of these would be the decision between when to use consecutive versus simultaneous interpretation in a given scenario. You may find during the pre-event consultations that your interpretation services provider has recommended whisper interpreting at a particular function, rather than simultaneous interpretation using a booth, in order to create a more personal atmosphere while still remaining respectful of the message.
Not surprisingly, whisper and consecutive interpreting services are usually more affordable than simultaneous interpreting, which requires a booth, console and other technical interpreter equipment, but they do not offer the same level of comfort, neither for the audience nor the interpreter. If you’re not working with an honest language solutions firm, you can wind up paying for services and interpretation equipment you don’t need.
Professional interpreters should be prepared for all types of scenario
When things are business-like and straightforward, an interpreter easily allows his or her own self to fade into the background. This becomes more challenging, however, if the subject matter or a heated conversation between your representatives and the clients becomes more intense or laden with conflict. Even then, professional interpreters must remain calm, neutral and act as your advocates – regardless of their personal feelings or opinions. At CCA, we insist that our interpreters have hundreds of hours of conference-level interpreting experience under their belt. This will make a tremendous difference in the quality of your interpretations, particularly if the subject matter is particularly sensitive, controversial or stressful.
When it comes to professional interpreting, preparation is one of the foundations of success. In order to be prepared, your interpreter team needs the opportunity to consult with you on everything from the setting and dress code, as well as any documentation that will be used, scripts that have been drafted, who your key players are, the tone you want to maintain and so on. Ideally, this would happen in person but emails, phone calls and/or teleconferencing will also do the trick.
Similarly, debriefing after a particular event is important – particularly if you’re planning to work with the team of interpreters again in the future. Discussing what went well, what could use some improvement, overall impressions, etc. will help to facilitate even better interpreting scenarios down the road.
Are you interested in working with a professional team of interpreters that considers itself as an extension of your clients and your mission? Contact Chang-Castillo and Associates to learn more about our services and to experience the platinum standard in interpreting codes of conduct.