A consecutive demo: los locávoros


Gemma and I are both interpreters and we were asked to do a speech and consecutive for you to show you just one example of how an interpreter’s consecutive notes are used to convey a message in a lively way, so that the interpreter is taking real ownership of the speaker’s message. As we did not have much time for filming, Lourdes suggested we met beforehand and ran through the speech together to see if there might be any potential stumbling blocks for my notes, as that was the focus of her video this time. So this was not a real test situation (as I was not hearing it totally for the first time) but I had NOT taken notes from it the first time so the film shows me actually taking notes from a speech having heard the story once before. The speech was not read. It was a story that Gemma was telling and she did not necessarily say exactly what she had said when I heard it the first time earlier that day. So it was very close to being a real consecutive situation but not quite!

In a way that is more like a meeting as you would be aware of the subject and vocabulary beforehand and would be conveying arguments which are less unpredictable than in a test or an open competition. The speech was not that difficult and only lasted about five minutes, I think. In a test one might be asked to do a speech of seven or eight minutes and that is perfectly possible when one has been trained to do it.  As conference interpreters we mostly do simultaneous interpretation so consecutive is sadly not such a frequent occurrence but I believe it is the best possible way of learning to be a good interpreter because your powers of analysis and understanding have to come to the fore. You cannot allow yourself to get hung up over one word or the way to say something. The great advantage is that you have the time to listen to the whole speech before you render it in your mother tongue so you are in almost the same position as the speaker and can really try to put across the whole message. That is why I think consecutive interpretation is actually a great deal more satisfying to do even though it never stops being a bit nerve-wracking ! Adrenalin is never a bad thing though and I really recommend all student interpreters not to be scared of consecutive and even to try to enjoy it!”

Anne and Gema are both staff interpreters at the SCIC, DG INTERPRETATION, European Commmission.

European Commissioner Vassiliou, about languages and interpretation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is an important moment for languages in Europe. As we continue our celebration of the European Day of Languages, we have one eye on the past and one on the future.

Ten years ago, in Barcelona, European Union leaders set out an ambitious vision of language-learning and its contribution to every child’s education. The aim was clear: to improve the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages from a very early age.

Today, it is only natural that we should try to take stock. How useful was the Barcelona target? How much progress have we made so far? Where do we go next? These are some of the questions we will be discussing today and tomorrow.

But before we talk about what needs to be done, I think we should pause to reflect on where we all stand today. To be more precise, I believe this is an opportune moment to consider the place of languages within the European Union. To put it bluntly, do languages still matter, and why?

I would offer a simple response: the day when Europe ceases to speak its many languages is the day that Europe – as an idea, as a project – ceases to exist.

In spite of a profound economic crisis, which has rocked the European Union to its very foundations, our fundamental objective remains the same: to work together for a better society while fully respecting our differences. We continue to believe that freedom, equality, solidarity and diversity can be reconciled in a common endeavour.

Language is essential to this mission. If we no longer take the trouble to learn our neighbours’ language, then we are less likely to understand their concerns, and even less likely to lend a helping hand. Experience tells us that we are more willing to make sacrifices for those that we know and trust. Today as much as ever, culture and language remain potent factors of our sense of community.

I believe the role of language goes even deeper than this: it is about our relationship with our fellow human beings and how we empathise with them. Today, science helps us to understand the workings of the human mind, and one phenomenon is especially interesting for any discussion of language-learning: the act of imitation.

I think many of us would recognise how imitation helps us to learn a new language. Is it not both pleasurable and curious to see how we try, quite instinctively, to imitate the sound of the other’s voice – the accent, the intonation, the style. Imitation is one of the most vital human skills, and the new sciences of the brain are helping us to understand just how important it is.

The scientist and former teacher of English, Iain McGilchrist, has developed this idea. McGilchrist says:

“Human imitation is not slavish. It is not a mechanical process – dead, perfect, finished – but one that introduces variety and uniqueness. The enormous strength of the human capacity for imitation is that our brains let us escape from the confines of our own experience and enter directly into the experience of another being.

This is the way in which we bridge the gap, share in what another person feels and does, and what it is like to be that person.”

I believe that these ideas have major implications for the debate on language-learning and its place in European society. Science is beginning to tell us new things about our mind and how it manages important social functions such as language and our relations with other people.

To put it very simply, if we begin to lose interest in learning other people’s languages – and if we no longer try to imitate our neighbours in this very natural and healthy way – then we no longer enter into their world, and do not empathise with their thoughts and feelings. This, I believe, is the most profound and urgent reason why Europe, perhaps more than ever before, must encourage its people to learn new languages. It continues our historic mission to bring peace to our peoples.

Having briefly looked into the workings of the human mind, let us now return to the global stage and the workings of international relations. When we debate the importance of learning new languages, we are speaking about the European Union’s place in the world. And it is here that I find much of my optimism.

I believe that if this twenty-first century is to be marked by further economic and technological integration, the continued expansion of our communication networks, and greater mobility among our peoples, then the European Union may be better equipped to prosper in this new world than many people believe.

Europe has a long history of managing its own diversity, including its cultural and linguistic variety. Of course, this has not been one long success story. Far from it. The European Union was, at its birth, the response to a catastrophic failure to resolve conflict. Still today we cannot ignore the spread of populist and sometimes xenophobic sentiment in our national politics.

But I believe we can and will overcome these tensions precisely because our diversity has become such a central part of who we are. It’s part of our DNA. So much of our political debate, both national and European, grapples with the question of how we reconcile liberty, equality and solidarity in a multicultural society. This is a permanent conversation across Europe, which has already existed for many years and will continue for many more, and it defines who we are.

The European Union today is home to 23 official languages – Croatia will take it to 24 next year – and around 60 minority and regional languages, not to mention well over 100 migrant languages. Some will always be spoken more widely than others, but we value all of them equally. Each and every language embodies a unique cultural identity, and none should be sacrificed on the altar of efficiency.

At this point, I would like to pay tribute to the translation and interpreting services of the European Commission and Parliament, whose Director Generals are here with us today. No other organisation in the world functions in as many languages as we do, and we should be proud of the excellent service that we provide to our citizens day in day out, often under the most trying circumstances.

Our commitment to cultural and linguistic diversity belongs to the unique political model that the European Union has offered to the world over the last half-century. Europe’s openness both among its own nations and towards the rest of the world, I believe, constitutes the core of our ‘soft power’ for the years to come.

Of course, I am not naïve. I recognise that today’s economic crisis has raised serious questions about the future of European integration. I accept that our sense of solidarity is being stretched to its limits, and that many people question the benefits of a globalising economy. But in spite of these worries, I am convinced that Europe’s unique historic response to the question of diversity prepares us well for the knowledge-based society that has arrived.

At this point, I would challenge the idea, as others have done recently, that the rise of English as the global lingua franca is inevitable and without limits. Certainly, for many years to come, the dominance of English in global affairs seems set to continue. But history tells us something about the uncertainty that accompanies such trends.

In the words of the eminent linguist, Nicholas Ostler:

“None of us live long enough to see the course of development of a global language, although we may witness some of the salient events in one, such as the revival of Hebrew in Israel, the abolition of Russian from schools in the Baltic, or the growth of competence in English in Japanese students.

This inevitably gives the impression that these relatively sudden changes are where the action lies. By contrast, we are led to believe that a development that has taken centuries, such as the rise of English, is ultimate and unstoppable. These impressions are deceptive.”

Next to the question of Europe’s place in the world comes that of our economic future. Beyond today’s urgent task of solving the eurozone crisis, we must also address the deeper imbalances between our economies, and think carefully about the sort of economy we want to build. And this brings us to the question of education.

The European Commission estimates that, by 2020, around 15 million new jobs in Europe will require high-level skills. In 2020, about one third of all jobs will demand such skills. This is how the knowledge-based society translates into real needs and political choices.

The question facing the European Union is simple and stark: will we invest sufficiently in the modernisation of our education systems so that we can empower all our young people, irrespective of their social background and financial means, to develop their full potential as human beings?

Education now occupies a central place in the European Union’s economic policy-making. Many of you will be familiar with ‘Europe 2020’, our road-map out of the crisis and onto the path of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Among its five headline targets, ‘Europe 2020’ calls on Member States to expand tertiary education to 40 per cent of young people, and reduce the number of early school leavers to below 10 per cent.

Now, every year, the European Commission recommends policies to all of the Member States, advising them how to address the most urgent challenges to their economy, including through education and training.

Let me be clear. This new promotion of education within European policy-making is momentous. For it is precisely as a central pillar of education for the knowledge-based society that we want to position the learning of new languages.

This explains why the European Union’s future programme for education and training, ‘Erasmus for All’, includes language-learning and linguistic diversity as one of its six objectives. And I am happy to announce that in their negotiations on ‘Erasmus for All’, both the European Parliament and the Member States fully support this new, enhanced status for languages.

Ladies and gentlemen,

You will have the opportunity over the next two days to discuss ‘Erasmus for All’ in more detail, and I will only say a few words about the programme now.

Above all, we plan to finance three types of activity, and each of these will promote language-learning and linguistic diversity.

First, mobility. Since its creation 25 years ago, the ‘Erasmus’ programme has allowed more than two million young Europeans to study abroad. With a new budget that Member States are negotiating this autumn, we hope to expand this opportunity so that a much wider group of people can study, train or work abroad.

‘Erasmus for All’ therefore creates an historic opportunity to boost language-learning across the European Union. By 2020, as many as 900,000 people every year could be enjoying an EU-funded exchange, as pupils, teachers, students, trainees, youth workers or volunteers. Our ambition is to integrate language-learning into every mobility experience for all sectors of education. If we can achieve this, then we would dramatically increase the number of people of all ages who are exposed to new languages.

The second pillar of ‘Erasmus for All’ will support cooperation and partnerships between organisations. Our goal is innovation. Transnational projects encourage openness and excellence, and facilitate the exchange of good practice between institutions.

We will continue to support pan-European networks for language-learning and linguistic diversity. It is here that we must explore how languages interact with numerous other policy objectives in education. From early childhood education and care to ICT, language-learning should play a central role.

The third pillar of ‘Erasmus for All’ will support policy reform. One of the great strengths of European policy-making is our ability to learn from one another. The EU cannot interfere in national education and language policies – the Treaty forbids it – but we can help to identify policies that work. We can guide Member States and propose new ideas to them.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have concluded with a more practical vision of languages within the European Union. Our new approach to education and training, embodied in ‘Erasmus for All’, responds to the urgent needs of European society and the desperate situation of Europe’s youth.

But let me be clear about one thing. Our attention to the economic role of languages in no way undermines our commitment to linguistic diversity as an objective in its own right. On the contrary.

Today, the European Union’s duty to protect and promote diversity is enshrined more securely than ever before. Our Charter of Fundamental Rights forbids any discrimination based on language, and declares that the Union must respect linguistic diversity.

It is our responsibility to ensure that our pride in these values is matched by an equal commitment to their realisation in daily life. I can assure you that the European Commission stands ready to do precisely that, and, in ‘Erasmus for All’, we will have a powerful tool.

Ten years after Barcelona, this is a moment to measure progress and draw lessons, and at the same time look to the future and imagine new opportunities. I believe we can do so with a sense of purpose and optimism.

This year saw the first-ever European Survey of Language Competences as well as a major poll of public opinion – the Eurobarometer. These two surveys have created a vast and comprehensive body of research, which will help us to design a new European benchmark on language-learning. The Commission plans to launch the benchmark in the near future.

The Eurobarometer and the Survey of Language Competences tell a fascinating story, and you will have the chance to explore them in more detail tomorrow.

The most important message that I took away from the research is that we all have a lot of work to do if Europe is to become more multilingual, but the general public recognises the importance of the task.

At the start of my presentation, I asked the question of whether language`s still matter. In the eyes of our citizens, languages have never been as important as they are today. The European Commission could not agree more.

Thank you“.

Commissioner Vassiliou, 27 September 2012
Limassol, Cyprus.

Cristóbal OSUNA: Trabajar en Naciones Unidas

Cristóbal OSUNA is Head of the Spanish Unit, Interpretation Services, United Nations, Geneva.

The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

Due to its unique international character, and the powers vested in its founding Charter, the Organization can take action on a wide range of issues, and provide a forum for its 193 Member States to express their views, through the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and other bodies and committees.

The work of the United Nations reaches every corner of the globe. Although best known for peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, there are many other ways the United Nations and its System (specialized agencies, funds and programmes) affect our lives and make the world a better place. The Organization works on a broad range of fundamental issues, from sustainable development, environment and refugees protection, disaster relief, counter terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, to promoting democracy, human rights, gender equality and the advancement of women, governance, economic and social development and international health, clearing landmines, expanding food production, and more, in order to achieve its goals and coordinate efforts for a safer world for this and future generations.

The official languagesused at the United Nations are:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • English
  • French
  • Russian
  • Spanish

The working languages at the UN Secretariat are English and French.

A delegate may speak in any of the official languages, and the speech is interpreted simultaneously into the other official languages. Most UN documents are also issued in all six official languages. At times, a delegate may choose to make a statement using a non-official language. In such cases, the delegation must provide either an interpretation or a written text of the statement in one of the official languages.

Interpreting Martin Luther King


Let nothing happen by accident! Let everything happen by design!

The development of an ability to present not only information but an understanding of the image that is created by any presentation is essential in working with any audience. The presentation must use as many of the senses as possible to allow the audience to have a greater chance of first understanding and secondly retaining the information which you are going to present. Therefore there are two distinct areas to presenting to an audience.

The first is an understanding of the nature of creating an image and the second is being as sure as possible that the image that you are creating matches the aspirations and dreams of your clients. This means that everything that happens to your audience must be as far as possible designed by you and not left to accident. Indeed theatre is the most successful presenter of ideas and concepts. Theatre goes beyond giving information to people in purely written or verbal form but also employs a number of other devices to elicit a response from its audience. Here are some of the areas which should be considered in any presentation.

Analysis of the Audience

Before approaching the development of a presentation to an audience a speaker must analyse the audience to develop a profile of a typical member. It doesn’t matter if you are talking to one person or many, this allows the tuning of the whole piece to match the aspirations of the client. One way of analysing is to follow this SCHEPPT formula.

How is this audience structured socially?
Who are the power brokers?
What do they aspire to?
What is important to them?
Education Level?

What is the ethnicity of the group?
What are the customs for decision making?
What are the taboos?
What is culturally desirable?
Speech Pattern?

What is the average wealth and income?
What is the projected income?
Houses, cars, dress sense?

What are the local politics of the group?
Are they conservative, progressive, traditional?

What is the area they come from like?
Technical How do they cope with change?
How do they cope with technology?

The overall picture is important for your presentation to be accessible and enjoyable. It allows you to use humour which is acceptable and to tailor your language and conceptual base to suit your client. You can then go on to design how you are going to create the image which you desire for this audience.

The Performer

Every time you stand in front of a group of people you are creating an image and performing. An awareness of how you appear is essential to success. Initially the perception of you by the audience will be 55% on how you look, 38% on how you sound, and 8% on what you say. However as you begin to gain the audiences confidence, the look becomes less important and what you say becomes much greater.

Your voice then is extremely important. Here are six important parts of creating good speech:

  1. Tone: Use the sound of the word to help create its feeling (onomatopoeia) slash, thud, solemn, integrity.
  2. Tune: Normal Range is two and a half octaves. Use the essential tune of any phrase. Falling tune in ‘Ladies and Gentlemen …..’ gives authority. Use variety for each phrase or descriptive word to vary and contrast each thought. Let the tune help the image. “Up the hill”
  3. Pause: Use before something important to create attention. Like a billboard, gives punctuation. Lead up with a rising cautionary and then pause before a lower executive and then a pause before you go on. This gives the audience time to see the picture and for you to read the audience. eg: Churchill – trimmed, rhythm, use of pause and phrases “the Battle of Britain is about to begin.” “Hitler knows he will have to break us in this island”
  4. Pace: Gloss over unimportant things quicker Important things must be slower Variety is important. About 120 words per minute average.
  5. Volume: Variety: Invite people to listen by backing off volume Use of a microphone.
  6. Clarity: Lips, Tongue, Teeth, Breathing, Vocal Chords. Lazy Speech, (Somethink, Nothink, Haitch) Dipthongs (Wide, Side, etc.)

Movement should reflect the statement. Use triangles. Make movements encompass all the audience. Gestures should match phrases in size, direction, length and speed. Control your Body Language- fidgeting, walking, getting up from a chair, stance, nervous reactions. (O.K., Scratch etc.) When to look at audience. T-T-Timing!

Paint pictures for people that they understand. Use mime to create not only an image but also a feeling. Your face says as much as your words about attitude. Use a range of facial expressions. Push yourself past ‘normal’ gesture. Use your body to highlight ideas. Part of Total package

Be careful about putting yourself “on the line.” Create a character which you can control, hide behind and stay objective. Uncontrolled emotional reaction is dangerous. Smile. Maintain eye contact, look around your audience.

Personal Presentation

Costume should reflect what you’re talking about. Costume should initially help audience to create an image initially. Using costume to put together ideas. Your dress says a lot about your attitude to life. Costume can often help to add something different to your performance. Think about style, colour (conservative or other).

Style, Neatness, Length, Colour. Facial hair (shadow). Other eg. Nose and ear.


Importance of eyes and mouth. Distance is important (10 metres limit). Base to remove skin blemishes and shine. Be aware of lighting. Be careful of street makeup.


Audience view Left to Right, Front to Back, Down to Up.
Entrances and exits.
Levels of audience and speaker. Above, Below, Level.
Stage locations.

Colour, Intensity, Direction, Type.
Highlight therefore control view.
Change to help idea.
Atmosphere control by lighting.
Sun location.

Use of sound before to set mood before or after.
Microphone levels (bounce from walls).
Mics offer variety.
Low bass high treble.
Microphone legs.
Microphone technique (popping, Height, Type). Hand held elbow lock.

Setting of stage.
Using a lectern or behind table.
Use scenery to highlight ideas. eg. Photos, Posters but watch control.
Colour of scenery as per other decisions eg. Costume.
Interesting scenery, Paintings, Roadways, Aeroplanes.
Use of curtains.
Slides and overheads (KISS) and practise timing.
Paint their picture. (Eg Retirement home)

Hand props to tell the story.
Create the Character.
Symbolise your idea. (Puppetry).

Heating or cooling.
Entrances for you and for audience.
Time for entry for you and for audience.
Floor Type.
Staging available


Things that stop people performing well:

Lack of subject knowledge.
Self Consciousness
Fear of mistakes
Sound of their voice
Bad previous experience
Lack of knowledge of technical equipment
Size of the audience
Unfamiliar surroundings

Ways to Present Well: Well Before
Write the date down.
Arrive early or visit before planning (photo of venue).
Ask where to park.
Take an umbrella.
Check about technical equipment. (Mic, lights, lectern, etc.).
Write out your introduction in full, double spaced and large type.
Number your cards.
Write speech triple spaced in phrases in bold type.
Practise with your video.

Ways to Present Well: Just Before
Move your seat out.
Plan route to stage.
Don’t look until you’re ready.

Ways to Present Well: After
Finish and move.
Don’t peter to a finish, upward inflection.
Don’t spoil by long thank you.
Move off quickly and be invited back for questions.

Robert Motton

Poder aprender

Test Aptitude: Fiche Profil STAGE SCIC

La buena selección es una de las claves del éxito en la formación en interpretación. No resulta un ejercicio fácil: muchos alumnos presentan un potencial lingüístico sólido, un bagaje cultural extenso o la madurez aparentemente necesaria para cursar estos estudios sin problemas pero, aún así, resulta difícil saber si esos alumnos podrán aguantar la presión de una formación intensa y exigente. Algunos formadores establecen paralelismos entre la formación en interpretación y la preparación de los deportistas de élite quienes, además de tener talento, tienen que poder aprender de sus errores en lugar de buscar excusas para fallar. La clave está en poder aprender.

El psicólogo Pep Marí habla de todo esto en su libro Aprender de los campeones. Os copio a continuación un extracto de su reciente entrevista en La Vanguardia como lectura adicional a mi vídeo L´étudiant idéal.


– ¿Cómo surgió la idea de publicar el libro ‘Aprender de los campeones’?
– Llevo trabajando 23 años como psicólogo en el Centro de Alto Rendimiento y los principios que regulan el alto rendimiento son los mismos que en cualquier actividad, ya sea deportiva o del tipo que sea. Para ser el mejor cirujano, periodista o psicólogo tienes que hacer lo mismo que para ser el mejor futbolista.

– ¿Cuáles son estos principios?
– En el libro los represento a través de una pirámide en cuatro niveles. El primero, y es lo que tienen en común los campeones, es que pueden aprender. Son personas que se acompañan de un entorno inmediato que no resta en su rendimiento. Si tú eres inestable viviendo no puedes ser regular rindiendo. En segundo lugar, no sólo pueden aprender sino que también quieren aprender. La motivación. Tienen muy claro los objetivos y lo más importante es que se dejan la piel para conseguirlo.

-¿Cuál sería el tercer nivel?
–  Los campeones saben aprender: reconocen los errores como propios y no buscan excusas, y los corrigen rápidamente. Un entrenador me dijo que hay dos clases de deportistas,
aquellos que buscan una excusa para poder fallar y aquellos que buscan una solución para poder acertar. Los que buscan excusas no son campeones. Los perdedores se quejan, los ganadores aprenden. Un campeón puede, quiere y sabe aprender pero falta una cosa.

-¿El qué?
– La puesta en escena, es decir, saber competir, rendir bajo presión, controlar los nervios, mantener la concentración y tener confianza en tus posibilidades. Está muy bien esforzarse pero no hay suficiente, hay que saber rendir. La cultura del esfuerzo más la de la eficacia es éxito asegurado. Además de saber rendir y esforzarse en el libro también da mucha importancia al talento.

  • ¿Se puede ser un campeón sin talento?
    – Te pondré un ejemplo con los jugadores Messi y Pedro. ¿Cómo es que Messi hace unas cosas que Pedro no hace? Podríamos caer en la tentación de decir que Messi tiene una técnica tan depurada que le permite hacer cosas que Pedro no puede hacer. Yo lo encuentro erróneo. Pedro tiene una técnica muy depurada, es buenísimo técnicamente y las cosas que hace Messi él también las podría hacer. Técnicamente está dotado para hacerlas, ¿pero por qué no las hace? Porque no se imagina que las podría hacer o como mínimo no se lo imagina tan rápido como Messi ya que si te lo imaginas más lento que tu defensor te quita el balón y ya no lo puedes hacer. Por eso digo que para mí el talento es imaginar rápido.

– Entonces el talento es imprescindible, ¿o no?
– El talento es imprescindible para conseguir el alto rendimiento pero no es suficiente. El entrenador de Los Lakers Phil Jackson dice que el carácter es más importante que el talento. Estoy totalmente de acuerdo porque el carácter es el que permite que el talento surja, se desarrolle y se materialice. Veo deportistas con un talento brutal que no han sido capaces de cuajar su talento y demostrarlo porque no tenían humildad, autocrítica, autonomía, persistencia en el esfuerzo, no vivían de una manera compatible con el alto rendimiento, y por culpa de este carácter no han podido manifestar su talento.

– Hablando de entrenadores, ahora que comentaba Phil Jackson, ¿para usted cuáles han sido las claves del éxito de Pep Guardiola?
–  Principalmente dos claves. La primera es la gestión de las personas. Es un gran gestor de personas y ser el líder de un equipo implica tratar a todo el mundo diferente en función de lo que necesita, no de lo que pide. A diferencia de Frank Rijkaard, que trataba a todo el mundo diferente pero en función de lo que pedían los jugadores y no de lo que necesitaban. Tú tienes que ser suficiente psicólogo para ver qué necesitan las personas en cada momento. Guardiola también ha conseguido algo muy difícil que es hacer entender al resto del colectivo de personas que aquel trato diferencial que le haces a aquel individuo en particular no sólo es lo mejor para ese individuo sino que también es lo mejor para el resto del equipo. En esto, Guardiola es un genio.

-¿Y la segunda clave?
– Está relacionada con el nivel de competir. Guardiola es un experto ajustando el nivel de alerta de sus jugadores antes de los partidos. Si los jugadores salen al campo muy nerviosos o tensionados cometerán muchos errores por precipitación pero si salen relajados se les anticiparán en las acciones o no llegarán. Hace falta salir al campo con el nivel justo de alerta, ni mucho ni poco, para cada partido.

– Podemos decir que Guardiola tiene mucha psicología deportiva…
– En este sentido soy bastante crítico. Una de las cosas que me permite mi profesión es trabajar con muchos entrenadores. Yo no creo que sea un genio aplicando la psicología, lo que pasa es que tiene mucho sentido común. Guardiola es un catedrático del sentido común y en un mundo donde hay tan poco sobresale mucho. Conozco a entrenadores que hacen servir la psicología y la integran tan bien como Guardiola pero nadie los conoce  porque son deportes minoritarios y no son tan mediáticos.

– Sin dejar el Barça, ¿cómo se explica que jugadores que lo han ganado todo sigan sin perder la motivación y las ganas de ganar?
– A la mayoría de los humanos ya nos fallaría la motivación. En este caso, no hay más remedio que trascender. Es decir, darle otro sentido a las cosas, un sentido que va más allá del objetivo real. El Barça no sólo juega para ganar sino también para ser un referente y un ejemplo para la sociedad. Y, por otro lado, estos jugadores quieren marcar una época, quieren pasar a la historia como el mejor equipo. Si no la ‘lían’ de esta manera tan grande faltan motivaciones porque un objetivo conseguido deja de serlo y cada vez tienes que fijar un objetivo superior que te haga más ilusión que el anterior. No queda más remedio que trascender.

-En este punto de trascendencia encontraríamos a Messi. Parece que este jugador no tiene límites a pesar de su juventud…
– Cuando vino a Barcelona de pequeño lo hizo con su padre y parte de su entorno le ha dado un punto de soporte para tener los pies en la tierra, eso ha sido muy importante. Y en la parte deportiva otra clave es el equipo. La prueba la tienes en la selección argentina, no es capaz de rendir al mismo nivel porque los valores que ha hecho servir Guardiola para crear este equipo, como la solidaridad, el sentido común, la discreción o la persistencia son valores que definen la personalidad de Messi y él se identifica con estos valores. El Barça también se identifica con Messi. Existe esta comunión tan clara e identitaria y a Messi le es más fácil asumir el rol que tiene en el Barça.

– Guardiola en más de una ocasión ha manifestado que es partidario de contratos cortos, ¿pero este Barça se entiende sin Guardiola?
– Cuando el entrenador Phil Jackson llega al baloncesto profesional dice que los jugadores son muy egoístas, y piensa cómo pueden ser tan egoístas y jugar a un deporte en equipo. Yo siempre digo que en los deportes individuales para triunfar tienes que ser un poco egoísta pero para ser un buen deportista de un deporte colectivo tienes que ser generoso. Tienes que saber anteponer el bien colectivo al tuyo particular, y eso es muy fácil de decir pero muy difícil de hacer. 

– ¿Y cómo se consigue eso?
– Phil Jackson para arreglarlo propone apelar a una fuerza más grande y gratificante que el propio ego: la belleza del sistema. Se ha llegado a un punto que jugar en el Barça debe ser una pasada, tanto que está por encima del bien individual. Conocí a un entrenador que decía que cuando se juega para el equipo se juega mejor y se disfruta más. Esto es verdad. Cuando hay esta sintonía de equipo y ya se ha creado este sistema de juego, que casi va solo y ya da igual que jugador pongas en esa posición en el campo, funciona y además luce. Phil Jackson comenta que eres un líder cuando eres capaz de hacer mejor a los que tienes a tu lado. En el Barça está pasando esto, va solo, incluso ya no depende de quien juega y me atrevería a decir ni del entrenador, si ahora pones otro entrenador creo que la dinámica arrastraría.

– ¿Y todo esto se puede extrapolar más allá del ámbito deportivo?
– En una de las fórmulas del libro explico que si juntas la ambición, el orden en el estilo de vida y la humildad, esto asegura la progresión a nivel deportivo y de lo que sea.

– En el libro también hace referencia a la presión, algo ineludible para los deportistas de alto nivel. ¿Cómo se puede hacer frente a ella para rendir más?
– La presión se puede aprender a llevarla mejor. Hay varias maneras de afrontarla. La primera es evitarla, ésta es la peor de todas. Si tú tienes un problema y lo evades se hace cada vez más grande, y no estás aprendiendo nada. La segunda manera es controlándola, ajustando muy bien el nivel de activación para jugar. La tercera manera es tolerar la presión, saber que forma parte de la competición y tarde o temprano vendrá. Se trata de que la dejes pasar, que no te rebotes, que hagas lo mismo que harías a pesar de que no estuviera. Para ello utilizo la frase de un actor, John Wayne, que da título a uno de los capítulos de libro: “Ser un valiente es estar muerto de miedo y a pesar de eso subir al caballo”.

– Interesante frase…
–  Todo el mundo tiene miedo y lo que se trata es subir al caballo. Y hay dos clases, los que suben y los que no. Y la última y mejor manera de afrontar la ansiedad es disfrutar bajo presión. Los mejores lo hacen. 

– En su trabajo en el CAR y por su experiencia durante estos años, ¿cuáles son las principales consultas que atiende de los deportistas?
– Básicamente son tres consultas. La primera está relacionada con no saber competir. Deportistas que entrenan de una forma perfecta pero llega el momento de la competición y los nervios les pueden. Otra consulta es cuando los deportistas nuevos se integran al CAR y su estilo de vida cambia radicalmente. La mayoría son deportistas que nunca habían salido de casa y se tienen que espabilar. Les cuesta adaptarse, no quiere decir que no se adapten sino que les cuesta, y son demandas que van en la línea de facilitar la adaptación. Y para acabar problemas de orden personal. Son personas antes que deportistas. Cuando pasan estas cosas evidentemente afecta el rendimiento.

– ¿Y a partir de que edad se tendría que trabajar aspectos psicológicos con el deportista?
– Desde el principio se puede empezar a trabajar. En el CAR la edad mínima para estar interno es a partir de los 14 años. Aunque no es tanto la edad sino el grado de autonomía, madurez y la claridad de los objetivos del deportista. Una de las cosas positivas de la psicología es que hace el vestido a medida.

– Para acabar la entrevista, ¿algún consejo para los deportistas que empiezan?
– Les digo que no se precipiten y que tengan coherencia entre el nivel de ambición de los objetivos y el compromiso de los medios. Si quieres ser uno más con que te impliques un poco ya lo tienes, si quieres ser uno de los mejores te tienes que comprometer, y si quieres ser el mejor tienes que vivir de una manera. Para ser uno más no hace falta incorporar un psicólogo, para ser unos de los mejores lo recomiendo, y para ser el mejor es imprescindible.

Interpreter’s mid-career crisis

In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: they must be fit for it; they must not do too much of it; and they must have a sense of success in it.”

John Ruskin

How do work patterns affect us?

Jobs often used to be for the best part of someone’s working life. They provided security, stability and structure. However, people can now expect many changes in the course of their working lives. These may include changing employer, re-training, periods of unemployment, and even complete changes of occupation. More and more, people have short or fixed-term contracts, or work on a self-employed basis, and have career breaks. Individuals usually have to construct their own career paths, which can lead to uncertainty about the future, as well as unrealistic workloads for some and no work for others. And while it’s possible to embrace an alternative point of view, and thrive without paid employment, unemployment generally leads to poor physical health, poor mental health and poverty.

So being in paid employment is generally considered to be a good thing. It is no longer just a way of earning a living: it provides identity, contact and friendship with other people, a way of putting structure in your life and an opportunity to meet goals and to contribute.

Having said that, work stress is now more of an issue than ever: every year, millions of work days are lost because people experience illnesses caused or made worse by their work.

The Health and Safety Executive defines stress as ‘The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them.’

Some of the symptoms of stress are:

  • physical – fatigue, indigestion, headaches, appetite and weight changes, joint and back pain
  • psychological – anxiety, tearfulness, feeling low, mood changes, indecision, loss of motivation, increased sensitivity
  • behavioural – increased smoking and drinking, withdrawal or aggression, lateness, recklessness.

What causes stress at work?

The job

Job demands that can lead to stress include: having too much or too little to do; work that is too difficult or too easy; being under pressure to meet deadlines; shift work; and physically demanding work. People doing repetitive tasks, at a high pace, with little freedom to take decisions are especially at risk. Lack of control over the pace of the work or how to get the job done is one of the most common causes of work-related stress.

Poor working conditions, such as noise or bad lighting, poorly designed equipment, exposure to hazards or witnessing other people’s suffering are all sources of stress. People who are simply in the wrong job for their skills, abilities and expectations are also likely to experience stress.

Your role in the organisation

Problems can occur if people aren’t clear about the scope or responsibilities of their job. Conflicting demands make them feel very torn; for example, the demands of quantity versus quality, or quantity versus safety, or being expected to do things against their beliefs or personal and professional standards. This is made worse if there is a lack of managerial or supervisory support. In turn, managers and supervisors can find that the responsibility to provide this support conflicts with other goals expected of them by the organisation; or they may not receive the training to enable them to offer effective support.

Career development

Feeling trapped in a dead-end job, or insecure, is also very undermining. This may be because there are only limited opportunities for promotion and training, a threat of redundancy through organisational restructuring, or because you are working on a fixed-term contract.

Relationships at work

The relationships we have with our colleagues, can have an enormous effect on the quality of our working life, and can be significant sources of stress or support. Supportive relationships can give protection against other workplace pressures; stressful relationships can intensify them.

Working in isolation from others makes it more difficult to build supportive relationships; for example, for people who work at home or run their own small businesses. But isolation isn’t only physical – it may include being the only man or woman or person of an ethnic minority in a workplace.

Bullying is a major source of stress and is very destructive, to the person being subjected to it and to the organisation itself.

Organisational structures and culture

The operating style or ‘culture’ of an organisation may cause problems. It may include lack of communication, consultation or participation in decision making, and unjustified restrictions on behaviour. If there are no policies in place to cover these matters, there will be no clear standards for the behaviour that is expected, and no system for individuals to challenge racism, sexism or other discrimination or harassment. This promotes the attitude that people should just deal with it on their own. An organisation that runs on fear, or interprets stress as individuals not coping, will simply generate more stress.

Personal factors

What we bring with us to work can also contribute to stress. This may be the conflicting demands of managing home and work life; personal crises, such as illness or bereavement; financial worries; or the psychological factors that can drive us to unhealthy working patterns.

One common pattern is when a person works harder and harder to close the gap between what they are achieving, and what they think they should be achieving. They stop taking breaks, lose touch with their own needs and sense of enjoyment, and feel guilty when they are not working. Working harder brings exhaustion, their performance deteriorates, and they become more and more anxious, because they aren’t making real progress. It leads to loss of energy, emotional exhaustion, poor sleep, indecisiveness, and sometimes increased drinking, smoking, eating or spending. The person ends up feeling trapped, and can become depressed.

How can I tackle stress?

Preventing stress means achieving a balance between demands and the capacity to respond to them. Learn to recognise what you find stressful in the work environment and what helps you work well. Taking action, however small, can improve your life at work and stop you feeling trapped or the victim of people’s demands. You may be free to do some things without reference to anyone else, but some things you will need to negotiate, formally or informally, with colleagues or managers. However, there are many things employees can do for themselves.

Taking control

  • Develop good relationships with colleagues so that you can build up a network of support.
  • Talk to someone you trust, at work or outside, about what upsets you or makes you feel stressed. This is not a sign of weakness, it’s taking responsibility for your wellbeing.
  • Treat colleagues with the respect and consideration you want from them.
  • Communicate if you need help.
  • Be assertive – say no if you can’t take on extra demands.
  • Be realistic – you don’t have to be perfect all the time.
  • Write a list of what needs to be done; it only takes a few minutes and can help you to prioritise, focus and get things in perspective. It can also feel satisfying to tick items off once they have been done.
  • If everything starts to feel overwhelming, take a deep breath. Try and get away from your desk or situation for a few minutes – get a drink or go to the toilet.
  • Try and take a walk or get some fresh air during the day – exercise and daylight are beneficial to mental as well as physical health.
  • Make sure you drink enough water and that you eat during the day to maintain your energy levels.
  • Learn some relaxation techniques.
  • Work regular hours and take the breaks and holidays you’re entitled to. If things are getting too much, book a day off or a long weekend.
  • Try not to work long hours or take work home with you. This may be all right in the short term, if the work has a specific purpose and is clearly defined – a team effort to complete an urgent project may be very satisfying – however, working longer hours does not generally lead to better results.
  • Maintain a healthy work-life balance – nurture your outside relationships, interests, and the abilities your job does not use.

Preventing stress with the help of your employer

  • Make your physical work environment as comfortable to work in and appropriate to your needs as you can. If necessary, enlist the help of a health and safety officer.
  • Discuss your workload, or the organisation of your work with your manager or supervisor. Get feedback on your work, and discuss setting realistic targets and how you can solve any problems you are having. If you can’t resolve problems in this way, talk to the human resources department or trade union representative.
  • Ask how your goals fit in with the organisation’s overall aims and objectives so that you can see a real purpose to your work.
  • Discuss the possibility of flexitime (flexible working hours), if, for example, you have difficulty with rush-hour travel, or need to leave work early some days to get to a support group or fit in with child care.
  • Make use of the support already on offer: some organisations provide employee assistance programmes providing free advice and counselling; others have internal systems such as co-worker support.

Organisational culture

  • Be aware of any policies on harassment, bullying or racism, so that you know what behaviour the company considers unacceptable, how to challenge it and what support there is.
  • If stress, work overload, bullying or poor communication are issues for you, they are probably issues for others in the organisation as well. Sharing your concerns with those you trust could lead to more of a joint effort to get your employer to introduce changes; for example, better consultation within the organisation, an anti-bullying policy, a commitment to tackling stress through health and safety policies, or an investment in staff support.
  • If you are aware of bad practice in the organisation (for example, financial corruption or abusive behaviour towards clients or staff) find a way of speaking out about it. Do protect your own position though, and get advice, for example, from the union, employee assistance programme (if your organisation has one) or Public Concern at Work .

Career development: staying or moving on

  • Make the most of any opportunities for training and development offered by your employer.
  • Keep your CV up to date, and plan for the future. It’s worth thinking about your career path, whatever your situation, so that you can be positive about staying or moving on.
  • Use careers counselling or similar expertise if you feel stuck, bored, want a change of direction, or feel your job is doing you harm and you don’t know what you want to do. A crisis can force a change of direction, though it’s probably not a good idea to make major life-decisions when you are in the middle of one. Look at the options, when you are able, so you can act when the time is right.
  • Use whatever counselling or support is available, if you are facing redundancy or retirement.

What if I do become distressed at work?

Anyone can become upset and reveal to their workmates that they are human. People who use mental health services may have particular need for a safe space to express feelings. If someone is going through a mental health crisis or breakdown, whether or not it’s caused by work stress, it will be experienced in their working life.

If you can learn to identify what triggers your stress, this will make it a lot easier to find the right coping strategy. If you do get distressed, keep a diary of what happened, how you felt and how you reacted, so that you can cope better the next time the same type of situation arises; or indeed to learn to avoid that type of situation if at all possible.

Ways of coping

  • A brief time-out period when you are distressed could restore you and allow you to continue working.
  • You may need a quiet place away from colleagues and client to shout or cry.
  • You may prefer someone to be with you to help calm you down or just listen.
  • You could learn specific therapeutic techniques using breathing or meditation, or exercises that improve your energy.

These are just some examples, and it may take a few tries at finding what works for you. But once you know what you are likely to need, you may be able to make or negotiate with your employer, in advance, the conditions that will allow you to help yourself feel better and get back to working.

Getting help

If you are worried about your mental health, or other people are expressing concerns, you may want to get professional help. This is not giving in, it’s taking action. If you work for a large organisation, they may have an occupational health service. Someone in the workplace is not only easier to access, but has the advantage of understanding the organisation and being a potential ally in dealing with your supervisor. However, if you do not feel secure enough in your job to approach them, or there is no service available, you may want to talk to your GP or a counsellor. You may need time off work; and sickness absence with mental health problems is just as valid as that for any physical health problems.

Making adjustments to how you work

Many of the adjustments that can help with mental health are things you might expect an employer to adopt as a matter of ordinary good practice; some you may be able to organise for yourself; others would require action, or at least agreement, on the part of the employer. The key to negotiation with the employer is to think creatively about what will enable you to do your job effectively. Here are some examples:

  • using voice-mail to take messages (without slowing down the overall response time) if phone calls make you anxious
  • a quiet workspace to avoid distractions and aid concentration, or being able to work from home
  • changing your supervisor, if another would be more flexible
  • restructuring a job or temporarily reallocating some of the duties (for example, ‘front-line’ work)
  • using email when face-to-face contact is too stressful
  • flexible hours to accommodate therapy, medical appointments, rush-hour pressures or the morning drowsiness associated with some medicines
  • on-the-job support, or permission for a support worker to come in or to be contacted during work hours
  • permission to take time out when distressed: this could just be a few minutes away from your workstation, going out for some air, or having a short rest
  • a workstation by a window, or a lightbox, if you have seasonal affective disorder.

You are probably the best judge of what would be most successful for you. If you want to think through some of the possibilities with another person, before negotiating with your employer, or have someone to back up your request, you could speak with someone involved with your care or treatment, a local supported employment organisation, or with a disability employment adviser who are part of Jobcentre Plus. DEAs can give you advice and carry out an employment assessment to find out what assistance you may need. Via the Access to Work scheme, they may be able to help you get funding for changes to premises, equipment, personal support or assistance, or help with extra costs of getting to work.

Should I tell my employer if I have a mental illness?

Some people say you should be open about mental illness. Others advise against it, where there is a choice. Some recommend waiting until the employer has formed an impression of you based on your abilities and character, not on their preconceptions. Some companies have positive policies on disability and equality at work, which ought to mean that being open about your mental health is less of a risk.

An employer only has to make adjustments for needs that they know about. Therefore, if you want the protection of the Equality Act, or simply want your employer to understand your needs, you will have to make sure that someone in a responsible position knows what they are. This could be your manager or the human resources (personnel) department.

If you do decide to tell, think about how and when to do it, how much information you want to give, what kind of information, and who to share it with. For example, the human resources department may know your diagnosis, but they don’t have to tell your supervisor or workmates.

You don’t have to go into personal details; focus on what you need for the job. Employers’ concerns tend to arise out of assumptions about poor work performance. They want to know if you can do the job and will get along with the customers or clients and the rest of the team. If you can show that your objective is to get the job done, this should go a long way to reassuring them. Being straightforward and unembarrassed about your history will help them get it in to perspective.

The potential risks of disclosing something about your mental health history include:

  • not getting the job
  • being teased or harassed by other employees
  • being assumed to be a less productive member of the team
  • having fewer opportunities for career development
  • being treated as more vulnerable than other employees, or having everything (anger, excitement, time off sick, or a grievance) associated with your mental illness
  • coming under closer scrutiny than other employees, and having to work harder to gain the same respect.

The potential benefits of disclosure are:

  • being open about it can encourage others in the same situation
  • keeping it secret may be too stressful, or against your beliefs
  • it gives you a stronger basis for requesting adjustments to your job or work environment
  • it could give you the opportunity to involve an outside adviser or support worker, who could see you at work or speak directly with your employer
  • it could make it easier to go into work at times when your symptoms are greater
  • it enables you to enlist the support of colleagues.

Source: http://www.mind.org.uk/

En català al Parlament Europeu

Admeto que aconseguir que el català esdevingui llengua normal al Parlament Europeu ha estat gairebé una obsessió en els vuit anys que porto treballant en aquesta institució. Confesso que, quan vaig arribar-hi, l’any 2004, creia que ho aconseguiríem de seguida. Sabia que els nostres predecessors ho havien intentat fins a la sacietat, sense sortir-se’n. I tanmateix, estava segur que es tractava (vaja, que es tracta) d’un tema absolutament de sentit comú i de fàcil solució. L’aliança catalano-defensora en aquest assumpte vé de lluny, i en els dos mandats que he viscut, hem procurat enfortir-la.

És ja prou conegut per a tothom que el català és una llengua viva, utilitzada amb total normalitat per uns 10 milions de persones pertanyents a tres països de la UE i un d’associat (Andorra); que al PE són oficials llengües que compten amb molts menys parlants que el català; que la Constitució espanyola (article 3) considera el català una de les quatre llengües cooficials de l’Estat espanyol; que és una llengua d’ús habitual en l’administració, el sistema educatiu, els mitjans de comunicació i en tots els àmbits culturals; i, que donat que el respecte per la diversitat lingüística és una de les bases democràtiques i culturals de la construcció europea, tal i com queda establert en l’Article 22 de la Carta de Drets Fonamentals de la Unió, resulta profundament injust discriminar una llengua amb l’argument que no s’utilitza en tot l’Estat.

Però, si tot això és tan evident, què és el que falla? Molt senzill: l’estructura de l’Estat, Madrid, el govern central, digueu-li com vulgueu. En aquest sentit, he de dir que no he percebut cap diferència substancial entre els governs del PP i els del PSOE. I això és preocupant.

I no obstant, tinc la impressió que estem més a prop que mai de resoldre l’afer, almenys en la seva dimensió europarlamentària. El President de l’Eurocambra en Martin Schulz, lector empedreït de Cabré, ha reiterat sovint el seu compromís personal i polític en favor que puguem usar el català als plens del PE, amb tota normalitat. Som conscients de la magnífica oportunitat que aquesta situació ens aporta, i hi estem treballant.

Confio que aviat resoldrem aquest clar dèficit democràtic i lingüístic, i quan ho aconseguim, estic segur que molta gent que avui no és conscient de la importància d’aquesta fet es preguntarà: com és que no ho hem resolt abans, això? I la resposta caldrà trobar-la, un cop més, en un model d’Estat, l’espanyol, que no respon a la realitat nacional actual, i que no encaixa en l’Europa dels pobles que tanta gent somniem, i per l que treballem.

Raül Romeva i Rueda, Construint Sinergies

Raül Romeva i Rueda, Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds, es eurodiputado y Vicepresidente del Grupo de los Verdes/Alianza Libre Europea del Parlamento Europeo.