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Collaborating with Vin - A User manual

I am so excited to always collaborate & work with people across the world. Now, that I have been exposed to varied cultures & styles of working, I thought it was important to write something like this! It is a document in progress, so if you think something needs to be here or you have noticed I have changed, please let me know!

How I communicate:

  1. I tend to speak slowly when I am explaining something the first time. I always take the “teacher” approach to things & give you the tiniest detail you may actually not be interested in. So if you think I am doing this to you, tell me where you are on the topic & I’ll adjust to it.
  2. I tend to write longer messages, email & documents - because I think context is needed to even a new person that reads the document. I usually leave comments to my own writing. This may confuse some folks, just leave comments on these messages & I will respond.
  3. I usually smile through every conversation, this is not me agreeing - It is me being present and encouraging.
  4. I am awful at giving constructive feedback head-on. I will usually tell them very subtly. If you are confused about this, just ask me to be direct.
  5. On the contrary to the above point, I prefer very honest, direct feedback about myself. So you dont have to sugar-coat anything - If I am bad at something, just tell me that & I will probably ask you how I can improve, so I would appreciate it if you had that in mind too.
  6. I usually read all my messages the day I receive them & respond to things as I see necessary, so if you think you needed to hear from me but haven’t, please feel free to write to me again after 3-5 days(will vary according to the urgency)
  7. I really do not like small talk. I absolutely hate anyone asking me - “ How are you?” and following it up with “Could you do x,y for me?” Just be as direct as you can!
  8. I don’t have a communication channel I prefer - I will leave it upto you to decide what works best.
  9. If we are working on something together, I really dont want us to move on till you are convinced on WHY we are doing this. Ask me as many questions & pull out loopholes, I dont mind you ever doing this if our collective outcome is for something better.

What gains and loses my trust:

  1. Transparent : I really value when you are honest about things with me & about me. I absolutely do not engage with anyone telling me some feedback about someone’s behaviour that this person is not already made aware of. It makes me extremely uncomfortable.
  2. Ownership : When we discuss a potential idea & you go ahead start on it with all the necessary steps & process, I will trust you a lot more. If we are only saying - “I wish someone else did this” eventhough between us we can figure a solution, I might not be very pleased with this.
  3. Honor your word: If you tell me you will have something done by X time & you dont do it by then, I probably wont think much of it. I understand things happen. However, If I have to constantly follow up & you always come short I might not be saying it directly (Read communication point 4) but I will be deeply disappointed & either do all of the work myself or try & move onto projects that dont involve us working together.
  4. I am fairly optimistic at things, so if you are not unless you can rationally explain your cynicism to me - I might have a hard time understanding.
  5. I have no tolerance for anyone treating people as if someone is less than them. This could be you showing your superiority because of your education, caste, race, net-worth or your job. I value how well we treat each other a lot, so if this is a repeated action it might diminish my trust.
  6. Punctual : I really try my best to be early to everything, if you are lax about our meetings, meetups or not delivering things on time - and dont have a good reason for it - I might be rather upset & if we are not colleagues I might altogether avoid catch ups as much as I can.

Meetings/Catch Ups:

  1. If you are a superior at work and catch up with me randomly, my mind always goes to the worst scenario - I would appreciate some heads up on what we are discussing.
  2. If you are a complete stranger on the internet - unless I have read some of your work or we run in the same circles I wont be super comfortable catching up over video calls, emails are fine.
  3. I am really bad at 1:1s and usually don’t know what kind of conversations are ok - so maybe you will have to lead them for at least 2 or 3 times.
  4. I am always happy to discuss things - either some work document I wrote, a decision that needs to be made or just a creative idea session. I am always game for these - I just need an outline to collect my thoughts and come.
  5. Unless I am blocked with another meeting, I usually dont mind meetings running over-time if we have to discuss more things.
  6. I usually take notes on important calls & if it is a work meeting, I will usually send it to everyone else that needs to be looped. If I send you some reading material before the meeting, but you didnt have time to look through - It is best to cancel it.
  7. I love context! So if we are catching up & its unusual for us to, please tell me why before asking for time. I would really appreciate it.

Things to know about me:

  1. As an Asian, a lot of ways I am wired to some stereotypes. I dont ever think I am good enough & I am constantly striving to get better. So if you send me some reading material or a book recommendation - because you think I would like it or its something I should improve on - I get very happy that you thought of me.
  2. I really believe in random acts of kindness/happiness - So if you go out of your way to make me feel welcomed, I might drop you a long message or send you small gifts. IF this alarms you, you should let me know.
  3. It takes a lot for me to learn something & I find very few good teachers out there. So I randomly will arrange webinars of sorts to either learn from you or if you want some more information on things I am doing(this usually only happens if we are working together)
  4. I love studying organisations & how they effectively function - So I might bring up things we can do to lighten the mood or brighten up an activity at work. Even though it’s not my job function at all. You should totally stop me if this isn’t my place.
  5. While I hate small talk, I am pretty long on getting to know people at work & outside. So you might be surprised about how much I remember about you!
  6. I dont like most folks calling me by my full name - Vindhya. I only use it officially or when I am in trouble. If we are not super close - Vin will do :)

Things to know about me - (random unimportant stuff):

  1. I don’t drink coffee or tea. I also don’t do alcohol. There is no real reason for this - I just saw when I was of legal drinking age that most people got addicted to things & I didn’t want to risk addiction.
  2. I dance. It makes me really happy to be in the flow.
  3. I love picking skills from people. So if you are ever looking for a dedicated student - I will commit 100% to being that.
  4. I don’t listen to music ( it is my worst quality, I know) I can’t plug in my earphones & just listen. Sure, if it is a dance song I will move to it, but otherwise unfortunately not.

Things I need to improve on :

  1. Being organised : My mind is not compartmentalised, so it reflects in my existence as well. I am trying to get better here. The best way for me to hack this is by just following someone’s system. So if you tell me this is where you should put the plate - I will always put it there, but it might not be my idea to begin with.
  2. Being direct : If I know you enough or you insist I am brutally honest I will be, but I usually cant bring myself to do this.
  3. Asking for help: I find it extremely hard to let you know I am bad at something and I need assistance - So it takes me sometime before coming to you. This slows me down.

I cant think of broader topics this should cover. I will come back to this if I think of more things.

Published 7 Jan 2021

Always looking for learning opportunities in product and life.
Vindhya C on Twitter