I never thought I was someone who’s good with people. I talk a lot, yes. But being mildly extroverted does not mean I’m a natural at dealing with people.
Take me, for example. I’m hypersensitive. I take offense easily. But this also inevitably leads to me worrying too much about offending other people. This is both good and bad.
What’s ironic is despite how I tend to worry about offending people, I still speak my mind. Sometimes, way too liberally. But I often try to structure my sentences in a way that brings my point across without coming across as too rude or harsh. (May not be successful all the time, but at least I try.)
There’s also the occasional time where I become a bit too passionate about what I’m talking about and end up speaking in a highly exaggerated, agitated manner – leading people to think I’m mouthing them off when actually, I’m not.
Then again, that’s because I’m too highly strung about how other people think.
The reason why I’m now watching my interpersonal relationships more closely is my change in career environment.
I’ve been with this startup company since the beginning of the year. I’ve an awesome partner in crime in one of my favourite fields of work which is UX design. But I also have to oversee several fresh faces in the team who are completely new to the startup scene and the tech industry.
Given my perfectionist nature, I wanted everything to be in its place and up to speed at all times and yet give ample room for the freshies to grow.
I never liked micromanagement and dictatorship. I’ve been at the receiving end before at a previous job. I know how it’s like to be belittled. I know how it’s like to be looked down upon. I know how it’s like to simply carry out the desires of others with little room for own input. And I can honestly tell you, the feeling sucks.
So, when it came to my turn to oversee people in a fresh new environment, I didn’t want to make the same mistakes. I don’t want to stifle. I don’t want to belittle. I want to give constructive criticism and yet still make people feel empowered with new knowledge.
It isn’t easy, and I still occasionally feel like I’m stepping on toes.
Like how I occasionally get too animated when trying to provide feedback or constructive criticism. Thankfully, my hypersensitive self tends to pick up hints of annoyance or when a person is getting demoralized – sometimes hints that are not even there – allowing me to react accordingly. But I still feel bad afterward.
I want to be the type of person that offers gentle yet firm guidance and support.
It ain’t easy. Because human nature causes us to constantly want to be one-up above others. But it crushes, disheartens and discourages. And after what I’ve been through before, damn right I don’t want that to happen to anyone.
Managing people can feel like rocket science. But I’m willing to invest time and energy in this kind of rocket science. The gains from having positive team morale is absolutely priceless.