Today I have a tough conversation with my head of product design. Yes, it’s about the performance review.
I don’t believe that I’ve stayed at Carousell for almost one year. I still remember how shy I was at the first meeting on the first day. It was weekly product sync with 20 people. All I could say about my self for the self-introduction is “My name is Trong, I’m from Vietnam”.
That was my introduction.
And now, after one year. I’m almost still the same. Time flies very fast.
My head of product design is a kind manager. He always wants to push positive energy toward us, always nice when giving feedbacks and very humble. I wrote a long note about what I admire and list all things I could learn from him, but it’s still a secret note, not public yet.
Today’s performance review, it supposes to be serious, but it was not. Maybe I expected it’s not serious. It’s very awkward for a 1-1 meeting, but it’s good to be awkward, can be even more. Because in that meeting, both of us stay vulnerable to get and discuss feedback. And he gave very honest feedback about my weakness - which I can predict: Communication.
Communication is my Achilles heel. I’m not good at communication, especially in spoking. I’m a shy introvert designer.
At the begining, I thought it because of my language problem (English isn’t my mother language, you can see it in this article). But he said it was not. My language is fine. I can write, I can speak, people can understand me.
I’m bad at communication because of the fear of judgment from other people. The fear to be a designer with bad English skill. Many voices whisper inside my head: “What are you talking? I don’t understand”, “You’re not food enough”,… I let the fear beat me, badly.
After a long time struggling with the fear, I stepped back and thought about it. Around me, many people are like me. They’re from different countries where English isn’t their mother language: Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia,…
Sometimes, I don’t understand what’re they talking about. They might have the same thought about me. Then I realize that many people are just like me. Their English isn’t perfect. And they have their fear of judgment. I’m not the only one.
So I say to myself, and my manager always encourages me, to be more confident. Or better advise from him:
“Find the way to raise your voice”
Speaking isn’t the only way, writing is equally important. Find changes to raise your voice: via slack, email or document. Just pick one medium that works for you. You don’t have to be perfect in everything.
Communication is bigger than words.