Empathy-human nature and an important interpreting skill
3rd May 2013
Every Friday the Pearl Linguistics team shares news, opportunities and interesting research from the translation and interpreting field.
Today, I’d like to point out a very important skill which makes the difference between an average and an excellent interpreter- empathy.
Living our hectic life styles and building our careers can mean losing the most natural part of human nature - empathy.
We all have been in the shoes of a patient; whether seeking medical advice in a walk-in centre , a surgery or a hospital. Being a patient, not feeling well, waiting for test results and medical help can all cause stress. The amount of stress increases when the patient doesn’t understand the language spoken by the medical staff . Nowadays, as the world becomes a smaller place, many towns and cities are multicultural. Cultural and language barriers can lead to many misunderstandings between the patient and the medical staff .
Having an interpreter present in the hospital becomes a necessity. Professional interpreters should have a very good cultural knowledge, not just good language skills.
However, empathy is the skill which makes the difference between an average and an excellent interpreter. Unfortunately, not all interpreters understand the importance of their ability to put themselves into the patient’s shoes. The Pearl Linguistics team makes sure the full and part time interpreters are highly qualified professionals approaching each client as an individual, fully understanding the definition of empathy . As a full time interpreter I’m meeting different patients on a daily basis, whose medical conditions vary from the slightest cold to serious life-threatening conditions.
Sitting in a waiting room with a patient might last minutes as well as hours. Many patients turn to the interpreter with the most natural need to speak, to share their fear and expect to be listened to. An empathetic interpreter has to be ready to listen with heart, showing both understanding and compassion. In my career, I have seen a lot of painful and heartbreaking situations which made me realise the real values of life - our health. Thankfully, there have been many happy moments which I have shared with patients.
Empathy is a vital personal quality, and we at Pearl Linguistics highly value those professional interpreters who know and understand the definition of empathy - the feeling of compassion or concern for another human, the wish to see them better or happier.
Elena Solcianska, Slovak, Czech, Hungarian Interpreter (full time)
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