When I first started studying translation in college, the stereotype of the “introverted translator” was brought up a ton.
Professors taught about the profession like it was the norm.
Students believed that they had to be “introverted” in order to be freelance translators.
And I just asked myself, “what is everyone talking about?”
To be clear, I don’t consider myself an extrovert. Nor do I consider myself an introvert.
I refuse to define myself by either label.
And that has helped me succeed in life where other people I know have failed.
And here’s what you need to know about being an introvert so that you can succeed as a freelance translator.
Being “introverted” does not mean
what you think it does.
When most people think of introversion, they think of someone that has the following characteristics:
- hates being in groups
- hates talking to other people
- always wants to be alone
- never wants to interact at all with others
These are extreme stereotypes of what people think introversion is. They’re wrong.
Introverts can certainly have these characteristics, but most people I know who would consider themselves introverts don’t have any of these characteristics.
In fact, one major difference between introverts and extroverts is not how they behave in social settings (which is largely the same in both groups), but rather how participation in a group or alone can affect energy levels.
Introverts tend to recharge by being alone; extroverts tend to recharge by being in groups.
As a translator, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that “you’re introverted so I guess that means I hate people.”
Don’t let your introversion define you.
Secondly, don’t let your introversion (or extroversion) define who you are. Once you assign yourself a definition of what type of person you should be, it’s very difficult to break out of that stereotype.
You start thinking that because you have been assigned a certain label, you should always behave in a way that reflects the extreme version of that label.
You don’t give yourself any wiggle room.
Don’t let that happen. Don’t let your supposed introversion define who you are or what you’re capable of.
Not all freelance translators are introverts.
People like to categorize all freelance translators, and all freelancers of anything, as introverts.
They think that because freelancers don’t work in an office or have to deal with others face to face on a daily basis that they must be introverts.
That’s not the case.
Translators are like the general population. Some are reenergized by being in groups; others by being alone.
Don’t automatically assume.
Introverts are well-suited to the freelance lifestyle
Because freelance translators tend to spend significant times alone, they are well-suited to the lifestyle of working alone.
They can take long stretches of time working by themselves with only some music (or not) to keep them company.
If you are an introvert, take heart in knowing that working by yourself will give you an edge over someone that has to be recharge by constantly interacting with others.
Your introversion does not make you a great translator
Even if you might be better suited to a freelancer lifestyle by being introverted, that does not meant that you will be a better translator.
Becoming a successful translator is more than whether or not you best recharge by yourself or others.
In fact, becoming a successful translator involves much more:
- great marketing
- consistent focused effort
- top-notch translation skills
- treating your business like a business
- some good luck
These things will turn you into a great translator.
You can overcome extreme introversion
My dad was an introvert his whole life.
Even in college he had a tough time talking to people, of getting “outside his shell” so to speak.
After he graduated, though, he realized something.
That if he wanted to be successful in his job, he would have to talk to people.
So he made a choice to start.
He began talking to people even though it was uncomfortable for him.
By the time he retired last year, anyone who knew him would say he was a natural communicator that could talk to anyone. And he could.
He overcame his inability to talk to people because he recognized that he had to.
So he did.
He didn’t need any special training program. He didn’t need to pay for a 12-step program. He just recognized that he needed to do it. That was the motivation he needed. And it worked for him.
It can work for you, too.
Others can help you change, if you want.
If you want to learn how to talk to people, though, and don’t know how, there are two things you should do:
- Practice speaking with others
- Learn from others through books and videos
Those are the only two things you need to overcome your introversion if it is so extreme that it impedes your professional and personal growth.
First, practice talking with other people.
I like to talk to strangers because I can practice various approaches, different jokes, and untested techniques without worrying if I make a bad impression because I will likely never see that person again.
You can do the same thing.
Second, there are lots of videos and books that will help you feel more confident in speaking with others.
- Videos – I highly recommend you subscribe to Charisma on Demand on YouTube. I don’t know these guys or have any relationship with them, but I do know they produce quality work that can help your “charisma” and everything associated with it.
Here’s one video I really like:
- Books – There are a ton of books out there on what it means to be introverted. One of the best books, though, was written by Susan Cain. It’s called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I highly recommend reading it.
Introversion is not a curse… or a blessing
Finally, introversion is neither of these things.
It just is.
You should never look at it as either of those things, because when you do, that’s when it starts to define you.
Then it becomes easy to use your introversion as an excuse. Either an excuse for your failure, or an excuse for your success. Your introversion did not cause either one.
Don’t pretend that it did.
P.S. If you’re a new translator and want to have success whether you’re introverted or not, read my book, Translation Rules.