Active exchange, Image Credits: Andrijana Milisavljevic

Uncovering the artistry of interpretation through a different lens – the transformative power of active listening in every exchange.

In the serene surroundings of the Krka National Park in Croatia, the workshop ‘Interpretation as an art of listening’ unfolded, fostering a collaborative atmosphere and shared learning experiences. Participants not only delved into the transformative power of active listening but also contributed to a collective narrative that emphasised the reciprocity between interpreters and guests.

What made this workshop distinctive was the active engagement of participants, who embraced the art of listening with openness and a readiness to accept input from their peers. The workshop served as both a learning platform and a space for co-creation, where each voice played a role in shaping a collective understanding.

Central to our discussions was the profound significance of listening in the interpretive process. The workshop emphasised that, “listening is one of the keys to understanding the emotions and ideas behind words”, encouraging interpreters to go beyond mere surface-level interactions.

Bryant McGill’s wisdom, “One of the sincerest forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say”, underscored the workshop’s ethos of shared growth. Interpreters assumed the role of facilitators, inspiring one another to evolve and expand their perspectives through a collaborative journey.

A guiding principle emerged organically from our reflections: “If I am constantly speaking, I won’t learn anything new”. This acknowledgment highlighted the transformative power of creating an environment where listening takes precedence over speaking. In the realm of interpretation, genuine growth occurs when interpreters embrace the roles of facilitators and co-creators, fostering an atmosphere of mutual inspiration and shared learning.

Throughout the workshop, several brief exercises incorporated elements of active listening and the acceptance of input through exchanges and communication. These exercises provided practical experiences that reinforced the importance of these principles in a hands-on context.

The workshop also shed light on the symbiotic relationship between interpreters and guests, emphasising the importance of guests sharing their perspectives. This holistic approach fostered a reciprocal exchange of ideas, showcasing interpretation as a collaborative process, done with participants rather than for them.

As the workshop concluded, participants left with newfound insights into the interpretive process and a heightened awareness of the impact of active listening on meaningful connections and mutual growth. This transformative experience set the stage for a continuous journey of exploration and learning.

This workshop was just one among many throughout the day at the IE National Forum of Interpreters (Croatia) organised by the Croatian country team. While each workshop offered unique insights, ‘Interpretation as an art of listening’ was a testament to the collaborative spirit that permeated the whole National Forum, creating a rich tapestry of shared experiences and diverse perspectives.

Max Dubravko Fijacko is an IE Certified Interpretive Trainer and IE’s Gastronomic Heritage Coordinator. His motto is: You aren’t learning anything when you’re talking. Get in exchange with Max at:

To cite this article: Fijacko, Dubravko Max (2023) ‘Interpretation as an art of listening‘  in Interpret Europe Newsletter 4-2023, pg.4.
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