Words: Mmamello Matake
In all honesty, I knew that my way of communicating was perhaps too clinical and uptight for the cosy atmosphere of social gatherings. My usual circle of interaction has always revolved around my top three friends and my dear family, where I was never questioned about my lack of greetings, my directness, or my indifference to exchanging pleasantries. And so, baby girl – that’s me – ventured into a new job, a path I contemplated leaving only three weeks into it. Surprisingly, I managed to overcome the initial discomfort my body and emotions displayed during this period of change.
One of the privileges of youth, which I truly cherish, is the chance to restart and redirect my life. In my early twenties, I embraced this gift, knowing that not everyone has the luxury to start anew in their late twenties, thirties, or forties.
The emotional turmoil I experienced at the beginning of my new job was chaotic, causing quite a stir in my village and distressing my editor. Tears streamed down my cheeks for a whole week, leaving me vulnerable and unsure of what lay ahead. But, through the guidance of supportive consultations and self-pep talks, I managed to regain my composure. As I conversed with myself, I gradually began to hold myself accountable for my decisions, trusting that there must be a reason for this new chapter in my life, even if it’s not clear to me at this moment.
This new job introduced me to an extensive team, which presented challenges in terms of effective communication. My texting style, choice of words, and tone were the primary culprits causing friction. You see, I tend to struggle with texting, especially when under pressure or multitasking. My responses would lack greetings and get straight to the point as I yearned to move on to the next task. Understandably, some individuals were taken aback by this lack of basic etiquette and the occasional condescending tone.
Allow me to shed some light on my background to make sense of it all. As the firstborn at home, I am accustomed to making complex decisions that often involve the lives of my six younger siblings. Mmamello, that’s me again, has taken on a leadership role at home, shouldering responsibilities that forced her to mature quickly. Additionally, my inclination to spend a lot of time alone has inadvertently worsened my communication crisis, making social skills seem like a foreign concept.
In the brief period I spent at the new workplace, I unintentionally frustrated many with my communication style. As I grappled to adjust to the work culture and its unique intensity, I came to realise that fitting in mattered more than I initially cared to admit. My dynamic complexity makes me adaptable, allowing me to thrive both as a lone wolf and as a team player, depending on the energy surrounding me.
However, I acknowledge that my clinical demeanour may also be a response to past traumas, mirroring my mother’s stoic personality. Despite my desire to be different and better, living alone has further fuelled my resistance to engaging in casual greetings.
But here’s the thing: I genuinely want to improve. I don’t find my colleagues unreasonable in their expectations. Instead, I believe that the intensity of our workplace contributes to misunderstandings and overanalysing words and actions. It’s never my intention to sound condescending or cold, yet the struggle persists.
In my quest for growth, I reached out to HR for guidance, recognising that enhancing my communication skills is crucial to becoming a valued team player. They provided me with a tool, which I attempted to utilise when I was in a relaxed state, free from emotional turbulence. However, the online results left me feeling perplexed, questioning the true effectiveness of those 25 questions.
In light of this, I’ve decided to embark on my own research journey, seeking out tools and resources to aid me in my quest for better communication. I understand that self-improvement is an ongoing process, and I’m eager to explore creative ways to express myself while embracing the softness within.
So, as I continue on this transformative journey, I look forward to discovering the art of communication, not just as a professional skill but also as a means to connect with others in a way that feels authentic and harmonious.