Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hanging It Out

Today's draw of a TAROT CARD brings to mind something my friend J has been saying about not drawing attention to your flaws or weaknesses. She has been attending a Toastmasters group and picking up pointers about how to present oneself and get one's message across.

While they have been telling her not to point out possible drawbacks in her own presentations, my card today advises not to waste energy trying to hide them.

A couple months ago I wrote an editorial about the inevitable errors and oversights made in publishing a newspaper. So many words go past your desk that by the end of a day, you're seeing what isn't there. It doesn't matter how capable you are, how fussy, even how intelligent; mistakes will be made, they'll be in print for all to see, and you'd better get over it and get on with the next task. I wrote that when I began working at the paper, I was a bit hoity-toity about sloppiness in published productions, but before long I came to understand that we are all probably as bad as each other. Shit happens.

Under the oak trees

I was surprised to hear how different readers interpreted it.
One thought I was apologizing for imperfections. I sure as hell wasn't. I was saying they're inevitable, period.
One thought the editorial was too personal; I should write about more important subjects, like politics. (When I know something about politics, maybe I will. What I do know about? Published typos and other errors that make me grit my teeth and struggle to maintain my healthy self-esteem.)
Another thought the piece was a bit too long.
We don't get a lot of feedback on anything we put into the paper, but one reader responded that she understood what I was talking about and that we do pretty well as far as she is concerned.

For the benefit of new readers, HERE'S THE ARTICLE. Originally I wrote it for this blog, then thought it might fit well on the editorials page, where we sadly lack input from local readers (and writers).

Where I agree with the Toastmasters: when you're trying to make a point, focus on that point. Don't be self-effacing; don't say "It's only my opinion" and "I think." It's already obvious that it's your opinion and you're saying what you think.

Where I disagree: I believe it's okay to admit you aren't perfect, that you're nervous and uncertain. A little humanity goes a long way with your listeners, who can relate to you more easily when they can see that you are more like them than not. Don't work too hard to present a polished image; let your human self show. Maybe this isn't the best approach on a speaking stage, but in life? It's the only way to go.

In the oak trees.