Thursday, November 06, 2008

Express Yourself!

Presentation is everything. So are first impressions. Therefore it seems like a good idea to present yourself in the best way you can. It shocks me sometimes that there is so much ignorance about the fact that what you say or do reflects upon you. How can you not see that certain things will reflect negatively upon you and other's perception of you?

Today I encountered a really good example of this. It is performance appraisal time at work and we are all having to write up our goals and accomplishments. Our bosses see our written explanations of what we have accomplished this year and use that to evaluate us. Therefore you would think that everyone would try to make themselves look good right? You would want to come across as polished and professional. You would use this as an opportunity to convey the fact that you are a valuable asset to the company. You want to keep your job and get a big bonus. Yet, I noticed that some people did not take this seriously. There were a few people who just threw some words onto the form and expected it to be enough. Our immediate supervisor has been nice enough to give us advice on how to do this, in other words do this and this and this to make it look good. Then in turn we make her look good too. I find it amazing that people just do not listen and choose to ignore her advice. I know of one person that the boss has told at least 3 times to make their goals better and proofread it properly. Today when the boss told them yet again to proofread their goals they came to me and asked me to make corrections for them. I was expecting to help make the sentences sound better and was amazed to see the amount of grammatical errors in such a small amount of writing. Did this person not even realize how this made them look? Are their grammatical skills that bad that they cannot put words in the correct tense? Do they not understand what "use complete sentences" means? Do the honestly think words are spelled that way? Did they honestly think this was acceptable? I was in shock. This was a person who is very good at their job and for the most part puts off a professional aire (I so do not know if that is the proper way to spell that). I could not believe that their writing skills could be so poor. How can you ever expect to get far in a job when your writing and speaking skills reflect negatively on your education? I am not saying that you need to have attended an Ivy League school, shoot you don't even need to have finished high school to know how to present yourself. Somewhere along the way you will learn how to act properly. You will figure out how to make yourself presentable and make yourself look good to others. Sure you can talk in slang with friends and you can write improperly in certain mediums. But there is a time and place for that, and there is a time and place to present yourself well. If you never learn that fact then you will never get very far in life because there will always be people looking down upon your for your inappropriate actions. Even if you can talk and write well, if you choose to be lazy and your work shows errors, no one else knows if it you being lazy or if you actually thought things were okay. Either way you gave a bad impression and people lose respect for you. It has become so simple to make yourself look good in writing. We have spell-check and grammar-check and you should use them. Even if your English is not perfect you should be able to form a complete sentence with prepositions and all. You have to be able to get your point across. Throwing words on the page will not do that.

It always takes me by surprise when I realize some people do not even realize that they are presenting themselves poorly. And while I do not say that there is anything wrong with the person they are, what their culture is, or how they choose to act, they should know that certain actions are not always appropriate. That they are ignorant to how they might be perceived by others just baffles me.

I am very grateful to my parents for teaching me the proper way to act. I am grateful they saw fit to educate me well. For the record one parent has a high school diploma and the other does not even have that much. But you never would have known it. They knew how to present themselves, and they always made sure I did too. When I was friends with a few people from our small town and began talking with an accent my parents let me know how ignorant I sounded when I talked that way. And I learned from it, to this day no one can tell where I am from because I do not have an accent and speak properly.

To me there was just no question that you should be educated. I worked my way through college and grad school and did what I needed to, because that was just the right thing to do. It has paid off for me. I feel that while I am still young I have the foundation and this allows me to present myself accordingly. I have been approached by elders and supervisors for help with preparing presentations. I have been asked to help edit and proofread documents. I feel quite honored that a superior would ask this of me and trust that I will make us both look good. My goals and accomplishments were never returned to me for any corrections and I was actually complimented on them. Yet, I do not see anything extraordinary about this. everyone should be able to present themselves well and have others trust in them.

So on Love Thursday I want to thank my parents for helping to make me the person I am and for helping me realize that there is a time and a place for everything. I would have never made it this far without their guidance.

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