Presentation and Communication

Presentation and Communication

[00:00:00] **Aurooba Ahmed:** Well, hello. This is The Daily Five with Aurooba, that's me, where we reflect on creating our best lives a little bit every day. Here we go.

[00:00:15] I found myself thinking about presentation today. More specifically, how we present ourselves. One of the most important lessons I learned when I started working remotely was to never work in my pajamas. I always woke up and got dressed. Now I am a woman, so there is a cultural thing there where getting dressed often means putting on makeup as well, and many women don't feel completely dressed for the day without makeup on.

[00:00:42] I'm not one of those people. I typically never come to my desk in my pajamas. But, I will often come to my desk not wearing any makeup, at least not for work. I am in fact in my pajamas right now as I record this episode, which is different to me than my day job.

[00:01:00] Presentation is also about how you appear on, say, a call. I typically smile, greet people as they show up in the Zoom room, or at least wave. Presentation is also about how you respond to a message in an app like Slack. Something I posted on social media today comes to mind. And, being professional doesn't preclude you from being empathetic. I have a habit of going straight into the issues I see in something, but I'm doing my best these days to be cognizant that hey, the person on the other end cannot read my mind and it's important that I point out the positive and awesome things as well, or in some cases explicitly show that I understand their frustration or whatever they're feeling. That is, show that I am empathetic.

[00:01:46] I remember a few years ago, I was really busy and my brother texted me to tell me about something. And I responded with a single letter, K, which in my head was just a neutral acknowledgment of what he had told me. But he immediately thought I was angry with him, and got worried. Had I been less busier, I would have actually responded with two letters, kk, which in the world of texting is seen as a neutral or positive acknowledgment, whereas the use of a single K comes off aggressive, negative, and rude.

[00:02:17] While I still continue to learn this lesson every day, because my brain is unfortunately far faster than my typing. Maybe that's not unfortunate, but anyway, I learned that expediency is not always efficiency. I was trying to be quick and not keep my brother waiting by responding with a K, but instead I created confusion. Had I taken the extra 30 seconds to properly read what he had and acknowledged the nuance, I would have added that extra letter and all would be well. That's a fairly simple example, but it happens all the time.

[00:02:51] Presentation, attitude, etiquette, these things matter a lot in life because we human beings absorb not just the actual words someone says, but the nuance of tone and body language as well. In the digital world we live in and increasingly work in, the assumed or shared etiquette and nuance of how we type and speak is also important.

[00:03:12] I'll give you a digital example. I come from a generation that considers the use of the thumbs up emoji as highly passive aggressive. But I now regularly work in environments with people far older than me, sometimes by more than a decade. And that generation uses thumbs ups constantly. In real life, in the digital world, everywhere. To them, it simply means okay or all good. To them, it's not passive aggressive at all. One of the very hardest adjustments I've had to make is to remember that when someone uses a thumbs up, it's not necessarily passive aggressive or sarcastic. In an effort to remember that, I try to use it too, at least in Zoom rooms where a lot of people seem to physically do thumbs ups.

[00:03:56] I still usually can't bring myself to use a thumbs up emoji because it just makes my skin crawl, but we adjust. Because there are different communication styles, and if we all want to work together, we have to understand each other's way of presenting ourselves. Plus there's that whole team culture bit, which is out of scope for this conversation.

[00:04:16] Anyway, the point is, how we present ourselves matters. And it can be exhausting to think about it all the time. But it's worth thinking about it at least some of the time. To ensure that we come across to other people how we intend to. There's more harmony that way. And that applies at work, with your family, with your friends, with strangers, with the cashier at the grocery store.

[00:04:41] It always applies, because presentation always matters.

[00:04:50] Thanks for listening! Same time tomorrow?