Find a way to raise your voice

Today I have a tough conversation with my head of product design. Yes, it’s about the performance review.
Find a way to raise your voice
Photo by aboodi vesakaran / Unsplash

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.