Daily LifeInterpretingSpanish Interpreter

Your Voice; Keeping it Healthy

If you work as an Interpreter, Dispatcher or even in a call center, your job depends on your “voice”, and you are considered an occupational voice user.
Meaning, you are “The Voice” and that is your tool and the most valuable tool you have in order to convey and get your job done.
So, whether your an Interpreter, Conference Interpreter, Dispatcher, or work in a call center, or as a scheduler, your voice is your only link with the customer, correct?
So, it’s important that you take care of your voice and that you maintain a healthy voice in order to get the job done.

Because just as neat professional attire is essential for face-to-face interactions, having a clear voice is essential for your day-to-day business operations.
A hoarse voice from an Interpreter, or call center agent (CCA), dispatcher carries the same negative impression as a worn-out outfit and can detract from building credibility and or doing your job the right way, do you agree?

 

Little Story: A few years back I was doing a Conference appointment for the State, I actually had a team interpreter (who was sick) and was coughing up a storm.  Having a sick interpreter onsite who’s unable to do his/her job (use their voice to speak) not only did it affect the overall assignment, but it was a major distraction and also put on more stress on me, because I had to complete the job myself because my partner was sick with laryngitis.

 

So a healthy voice is crucial, but because you are constantly talking and using your voice to do your job and if you don’t take care of your voice, you are at risk for damaging your voice and developing hoarseness.

 

A 2002 study on voice problems among CCAs reported voice problems in 31 percent of CCAs, with several negative outcomes, including:

  • Increased sick days
  • Fewer calls per hour
  • More breaks away from the phone
  • Needing to repeat themselves
  • Needing to force the voice out

Overall, Interpreters, Dispatchers, CCAs with voice problems are bad not only for the CCAs, Interpreters, Dispatchers, Schedulers, and those who use their Voice to work but at the end of the day it’s bad for business.

I’ve learned from some Voice experts who now think that voice problem is a form of repetitive motion injury because the vocal cords are being injured by overuse, similar to the way data entry personnel may develop carpal tunnel syndrome.

Did you know that when we talk, the vocal cords vibrate about 200 times a second for women and about half that for men? That can add up to more than a million cycles of vibration during a workday at a call center causing vocal injury this is also true for singers, interpreters, dispatchers, call centers, etc.

 

As a professional conference interpreter who’s constantly working and who uses her voice to work, it is so important to take care of your voice!

True Story: About 4 years ago (I was a major workaholic) 🤔😊working all day, every day and would not take breaks in between and didn’t like working with other colleagues (I had bad experiences with other agency interpreters), so I was working for a whole straight month non-stop during the Winter months and around November while working at a conference my Voice literally starting squeaking, I could NOT Speak, my voice started sounding horsy like, my chest started to hurt, my throat was just feeling horrible, I started to sweat, got dizzy and literally passed out! Apparently, I had walking pneumonia and laryngitis and was in the hospital! I failed to listen to my body, I was just so excited about the work, I love what I do and was just “Go-go-go” non-stop that my body finally gave out in the middle of an assignment!  This little scenario ended up costing me months being out of work until I was able to get my Voice back and recuperate from this horrible experience!

So yes, dear interpreters, dispatchers, CCAs, Schedulers and all of you who use your work to fulfill your responsibilities TAKE CARE OF YOUR “VOICE”!

Here are some recommendations and things that I do and have done so since this episode.

Posture

Taking frequent breaks and being able to move around is so important because it reduces the tension in your body and will prevent you from having other joint/muscle problems.

Breaks

Taking frequent breaks will give your voice muscle a rest, so try to rest your voice – meaning no talking, or drinking cold drinks.

Voice Pacing

Voice scientists advise those who use their Voice to work “to think of voice pacing on three levels:

  • Breaks within phone calls
  • Breaks between phone calls during the work day
  • Breaks between work days”

Tips

Besides posture, breaks, and vocal pacing, you must also practice good voice hygiene. These tips have helped me keep the throat moist and free from irritation so that my vocal cords are less likely to be injured:

  • Drinking lots of (room temperature) water (or non-caffeinated liquid) during the day.
  • Keep water with you at all times.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which are drying to the throat.
  • Avoid excess coughing and throat clearing.
  • Don’t smoke! Smoking causes irritation and can lead to cancer and other health-related problems.
  • Don’t work if you have a hoarse voice due to a cold or upper respiratory infection.
  • Seek medical attention to manage any medical conditions that can cause throat irritation including acid reflux, postnasal drainage, allergies, asthma, and endocrine conditions, etc.
  • Avoid dry interior climates
  • Avoid high-rise areas they are known to cause damage to your voice.
  • Eat good and moist meals and avoid spicy foods, they cause acid reflux or GERD
  • Use a humidifier in your room or home, especially in dry climates.
  • Avoid mouthwash (it contains alcohol), if you need to gargle use lukewarm salt water
  • Take vitamins or eat fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins, A, E, and C
  • Drink lemon tea with honey (instead of  coffee)
  • I made my own paste that I add to my teas and helps with phlegm and it also has helped me from getting sick; it includes:
    • Ginger
    • Honey
    • Coconut oil
    • Pepper, etc…I will include the paste recipe in my next food meal article.

Get Help Early; Listen to Your Body

Seek medical attention early don’t wait until you have lost your voice to seek medical help.
Pay attention to the signs that your voice is getting tired such as– dry throat, raw or tired feeling in the throat, increased mucus in the throat, feeling like talking takes more effort, feeling throat strain — in addition to a raspy or hoarse voice.NIDCD-TakingCareOfYourVoice-Figure1

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