“Reema, don’t piss me off”
-said a German friend to me when I asked him to give his professional introduction to me in English.
I’ll come back to this in 5 minutes.
I used to work in multi-national publishing houses when I was in India. I was young, ambitious, fresh out of university, ready for all the hard work and the glory.
And I did a great job – I was told as much not just by my manager but also the clients who would repeatedly ask to work with me. I was told this by the simple statistic of number of projects, quality of projects, rate of completion.
You would think I would have risen to glory and that I was mad to choose to do my own business as a business English trainer.
Truth is, most of these multi-nationals are infested with a large number of people with high-and-mighty sounding job titles but few of them actually are capable of or do any meaningful work truly.
Admit it. We’ve all faced it. And we all keep on facing it until we stop believing in ourselves anymore or we become a cheaper imitation of them or until we emerge out of it sweaty and shiny and do something bigger and better, truly what we are capable of.
How to do the latter?
First step. Clear out the mess.
Second step. Elevate yourself.
One of the best ways to clear out the mess is to be able to see people clearly. Specially when you’re talking to an English speaker. What do I mean by this? I mean this –
Listen carefully when someone talks. A lot is hidden in language.
When you ask someone what they do, if they answer with just their job title, that’s a terrible egoistical way of introducing yourself. If you further ask what they do and if you don’t understand their answer – if it is full of heavy-duty terms like optimise, strategise, facilitation, right-sizing etc — weaved together loosely in sentences – Beware!
Job title and bloated descriptions are reminders of fake people.
It shows they are not good at their job, they are not entrepreneurial, they couldn’t handle a day at office without the spoon-feeding from their boss. And these are the people who make the worst colleagues – because all they can rely on in their work is licking (asses) and stabbing (colleagues). Don’t believe me?
[Notice I’m saying this only in cases of English speakers. Non-natives speak differently and you should LISTEN to them in a different way. The reason I’m giving you this advice is that to become better at English, you must also focus on listening to it carefully. Listening is, after all, an important part of communication.]
Look at the people around you. Pick up 5 of them who could be your colleague, boss, a friend from college who now works somewhere really well, that person who runs his own business etc. Imagine how they would describe themselves. Do you see them rattling out a deadpan statement like that in the manner of a kindergarten child rattling out a poem he hardly understands?
People you want to work with would do this in another way. They would give you more than just their role; they would describe you their work like they really want you to understand what role is it that they play in their work every day. They would describe you the effects of their work.
They would speak of their work with passion – like they own it. And guess what. Smart people really do own their own work.
It’s quite often a good way to sift high-ego-less-able ones from the genuine smart people we want to be with.
Now, your turn.
Learn to talk about yourself meaningfully.
Instead of just throwing some words at them in response to what you do, sound clear and precise about what is it that you do.
So, as an experiment for this post, I asked one of my German friends to introduce himself to me in English, in a professional context. And he said,
“Reema, don’t piss me off”
I understand him. Speaking in English feels like a pressure when it’s not your native language. Incidentally, when you are a native English speaker, you don’t feel embarrassed or “small” when speaking terribly in another language. This is a kind of privilege that a lot of other language speakers do not enjoy.
So here’s a bit more of my help
These phrases are wrong:
“I made my Masters/Bachelors”
“I made my PhD”
“I made my internship”
The correct phrases are:
“I did my Masters/Bachelors”
“I did my internship”
The correct verb is DOING, not MAKING.
“start-up company” is wrong. It’s just “start-up”.
“I work for a start-up.”
Most people say —
My name is ….. I am doing my ….. I made my Masters from….in …..
How about a self-introduction like —
I’m Reema. I am <designation> at <company>. It’s a <3> year-old startup that provides <this service> to customers. I’ve lived for <3> years in <Germany> now and before that I lived in <St Petersburg> – that’s where I was born.
Something like this keeps the listener engaged, and shows you to be a more interesting person.
Notice I did not change much..but just the way the sentences flow, they create a rhythm that keeps the listener engaged mostly. J
I’ve seen that people try to get over-creative and that appears fake. Who wants to work with a creative-masturbator whose lack of skill at it shows clearly?
Some more of my valuable advice on how you can give cool professional introductions during networking:
- Instead of giving your designation – why not actually talk about what you do. Sum up your responsibilities and challenges.
- Do not recite your CV
- I want to hear what gets you excited. It could be something like, inspiring potential clients to think about your product, or coming up with more and more designs that intrigue users to get more engaged.
Got it, my dear peoples?!
Don’t forget to share with your friends or ask your questions in the comments below 🙂