Monday, September 29, 2014

schadenfreude and other feelings

stockholm businesses

Schadenfreude isn't an emotion I'm that familiar with, at least not on a personal level. Somehow it seems a waste of energy-feeling. In Swedish the word for it is "skadeglädje" which is pretty much the exact same word as in the German Schadenfreude. I adore the German word, it's rather beautiful and encapsulate the emotion well (like Weltschmerz does) whilst the Swedish one feels bitter and uncomfortable.

In Sweden there's also a saying "skadeglädje är den enda sanna glädjen" which means "gloating is the only true joy" - which I find just sad. You must live a really sad and bitter life if there's nothing else you enjoy so much as schadenfreude. (Though feel free to laugh a lot over the illustrative picture to the world in this online dictionary here. And feel the joy.)

But now I'm going to tell a little recent story which is a case where I actually did experience schadenfreude on a personal level. And it strangely enough made me all giddy and happy in a very odd way.

I applied for a job, I didn't get it. Not because I wasn't good enough but because my texts "weren't quite right at this time". Since I'm absolutely convinced they were both good AND right I'm also pretty certain the reason I didn't get the job was I don't move in the "right" circles or know the "right" people. But still, I did expect the ones that did get the job would produce excellent texts and being fully knowledgeable of the concepts of transcreation and localization. Because it seems *rather* silly to hire someone not for their competence but for their *know the right people* trait, right? Right.

The other week I noticed that the company's website (which was part of the job) was updated and revamped with new texts - and it was a source of amazement and yes, a lot of schadenfreude. Because the texts were really shoddy. Like Google translate bad. Clearly not translated by someone who've heard of transcreation or localization. In fact translated by someone who simply is not very good at the Swedish language. The texts lacked flow, felt very strained, odd and un-brand-like (if there isn't such a word, there is now).

Obviously the company which was hiring wasn't looking for quality and enthusiasm, for someone who gets their brand (although that was what they claimed to be looking for, "a very special voice" indeed). Clearly they were looking for someone who knows someone "right" and possibly that someone can write a bit too. When I saw that spelled out like that, in such poor writing, I began to giggle. A giggle that was in fact liberating somehow.

I wanted that job so much, when they went with someone who produces this low quality material it is clear it's not the high quality company with attention to details I thought they were. Of course I can feel wistfulness over that fact, but I also know they don't deserve me and my passion.

I'm not sure it would have been better if the texts of the someone they went with would have been awesome or the shoddy case as it is. If the texts had been high quality awesome I could at least have felt they made a decent decision and I'd continue to love them for their attention to awesomeness. Now instead, I gloat, yes I do. And the schadenfreude I feel is of the liberating kind. Which I suppose is a good feeling and not, in this case, a waste of energy feeling. Quite the opposite. And for that I am grateful.

I think it's important to be open with the fact that the running your own business as a freelancer is not only such fun - which was also obvious in another recent situation - but also involves people that waste one's time for no good reasons at all. So here's another recent incident of the job kind. Which is a blend of nuisance and lessons learnt.

I was approached by someone on LinkedIn with a job offering. It sounded nice, the company gave me a lot of information so I could make an informed decision if it was something I would be interested in. I decided I was, I signed an NDA, did a transcreation and copywriting test, I gave a counter offer to their initial salary proposal since that was way too low for the job in question and argued for everything they'd get with me onboard. And then I waited to hear back with a possible counter offer on their part and then we could sign an agreement.

Because surely, if you contact someone on LinkedIn you do read their profile, it's pretty obvious what their job experiences and educations are, possible recommendations and endorsements *may* be a hint they're good at what they do and have solid knowledge of whatever competence you're looking for right? Right.

Well, apparently that's not always the case. Because the answer I got back was "We feel you have significant senior qualities for this job and we don't have the budget to pay you xx." Such an annoying behavior. Since a) my arguments/qualities were things already clearly visible in my LinkedIn profile. If they had read that properly BEFORE they contacted me and felt that was too much for the job in question they should not have contacted me at all. And I wouldn't have spent a lot of time contemplating it, mulling over the numbers, working on the texts.

B) If I had felt it was a job below my "significant senior qualities" of course I wouldn't have made the effort I did. I would have said thanks but no thanks on an earlier stage. Also c) I think negotiations regarding the salary is a standard thing when you're discussing a job. Offers and counter offers are norm.

I wrote back and said "Thank you for seeing me as having significant senior qualities. But it sounded like a fun job and I'm sure we could have agreed on a salary. Feel free to give me a counter offer." - do you think I got a reply? Well of course not.

Sometimes I get the distinct feeling that companies/people aren't used to freelancers having a mind of their own, standing up for themselves and aegue for a reasonable financial compensation for quality work. Like we'll only be grateful for being contacted via LinkedIn (and other places of course) and therefore saying yes to anything and everything.

Which brings me back to this article about freelancers being their own worst enemies. Our time and competences are just as valuable as anyone's. It's about high time more of us acknowledge that simple fact. We are freelancers because we value the freedom in how and where we work, but we still need to get a reasonable pay for a job well done. And if we don't stand up for our own value and argue for our competences, noone else will.

You win some, you lose some and some just waste your time. I actually do think the latter group is the worst.

Do you have an opinion on this?
And what's your experience?

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