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Find a way to raise your voice

Trong Nguyen
September 26th, 2019

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 a weekly product sync with 20 people. All I could say about myself for the self-introduction is “Hi, my name is Trong, I’m from Vietnam”.

That’s it. That was all my introduction.

It was so awkward. When I think back to that day, I feel bad about myself. I should do a better job.

My head of product design is a kind manager. He always wants to push positive energy toward us, always nice when giving feedback, and very humble. I wrote a long note about what I admire from him and put all the 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. It’s very awkward for a 1-1 meeting, but it’s good to be awkward. Because in that meeting, both of us stay vulnerable to discuss and get feedback. And he gave very honest feedback about my weakness - which I can predict: Communication.

Yes, it’s communication. It is my Achilles heel. I’m not good at communication, especially at speaking. I’m a shy introvert designer.

In the beginning, 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. Many voices whisper inside my head: “What are you talking about? I don’t understand”, “You’re not good 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 that I have 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.

Hi, I'm Trong, product designer living in Singapore. I write to practice, and write to find ideas. Nice to meet you!
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