The benefits of having thick skin

Having a thick skin is necessary for all aspects of life, but it is particularly necessary when learning BSL – particularly if you are considering becoming an Interpreter. There are many reasons why thick skin is necessary, but here are a few:

  • BSL is about individual perspective: we all interpret things differently, so how you translate something may be different from how your peers translate things. It’s important that you don’t doubt your skills and abilities by comparing them to those of other people. You have unique styles and abilities; other people should not interfere with your progress.
  • You are not deaf; to a grassroots deaf person, this will probably be obvious in your style and the way you sign. A deaf person may comment on the way you sign or the language you use and may correct you on how they sign. It’s important not to look at your signing as “wrong” but simply different. But take their feedback on board – you may have just been given a different linguistic option for what you’re trying to sign. In this situation, take on the feedback and say thank you –and then you have more options available to you.
  • Having thick skin means we are able to minimise worry and doubt. By putting aside our sensitivities and the niggly things at the back of our heads, we are able to focus on ensuring our BSL is the best it can be – with expressive non-manual features to boot!

So how do you get thick skin? Two tips are:

  1. Listen to constructive feedback – this is the feedback that really has been given to you to help you improve. Try not to take this too sensitively, but consider how this can be put into best practice.
  2. Disregard hurtful criticism – it is possible in life to be met with comments or questions that are unfortunately not meant in a helpful way. Do not let these put you off. Instead, understand that you are working hard at your studies and with the right intentions.   You’re on a long and challenging path, and a few hurdles are to be expected. Just remember, you can 100% do it!

by Alice Taylor