Often received with ugly faces and mutterings, feedback is frequently badly interpreted and misunderstood. Unfortunately, there are still people who think that this is the weapon mercilessly used by proofreaders to expose the weaknesses, flaws and problems of a translation job. The proofreader/evaluator is merely considered as an “error hunter” (but this could generate a whole new blog post).
I get sad to realize that some colleagues see it in such a distorted way. After all, feedback is a two-way road whose goal is to favor both parts involved: the translator and the customer. Feedback is valuable both to the company, which will be able to provide better quality jobs to its clients, and to the service provider, who can take advantage of the tips and suggestions given to improve their own work as a professional, while raising their profile in the market.
For this reason, not only translators but professionals in every area should receive feedback with open arms, attentive eyes and listening ears. You will certainly find many “friends” out there that will tap you on the back and praise your mediocre work. They could be embarrassed to say what they really think or simply do not care about your professional growth. Those who are really willing to help you excel and achieve your best, however, are very few. And these are the ones that you should embrace.
I recently gave a presentation at the ABRATES Conference and, besides having loved the experience, I also think it illustrates very well what I am trying to say here. If you want to take a look or even download the slides of “Marks and hits: The Love-Hate Relationship between Translators and Proofreaders” can be found here. (Please note it is in Portuguese…)