More of this, please, from everyone.

I have worked for more than 20 years as an American Sign Language/English interpreter. Somehow a norm developed in our field to ‘protect’ each other from criticism, which has had consequential effects on the quality of interpreting — and thus the quality of relationships among the people we serve.

While there are professional constraints on how publically we express disagreement or pursue constructive criticism (notably the imperative to protect the privacy of clients and confidentiality of their communication), every moment of ‘disconnect’ is an intercultural learning opportunity. Disagreements are glitches that entail a temporary loss of flow, sometimes for involved individuals, sometimes for entire groups.

Handling and recovering from disrupted flow require skills that are sorely needed in all areas of life. Zak is setting an example of the highest degree, Mark and Ev are following suit while modeling skills the rest of us need to also cultivate. Being a thoughtful and observant participant in interpreted communication is one way to expose yourself to situations where recovering flow is both necessary and routine.

Due to persistent feedback from the American Deaf community, sign language interpreters are upping our game. During this period of heightened sensitivity to anything that elicits unpleasant feelings (e.g., the confrontation of #BlackLivesMatter vs white entitlement), having role models and examples demonstrating how to conduct dialogue that helps people learn and grow together is welcome.

Thank you.

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exploring the resilience factor in human systems

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