I was out on Friday with some of my colleagues. Towards the end of the evening, one of those colleagues – someone that I’ve worked reasonably closely with for the last five years but who is leaving to take another role – turned to me and said that she found me almost impossible to read because I was so dry. She went on to say that she was actually convinced that I didn’t like her at all.
In actual fact, I do like her, and I told her so. She was a little surprised, I think.
I first worked with her in around 2009 when she had just joined the business and was very impressed. As it happens, I told her, I wrote you some feedback on our work together at the time, and I found that I still had that very same feedback on my computer only the other day. She had absolutely no recollection of this feedback at all but was intrigued about what I might have said, so I promised her that I would send it to her the next time I was in the office.
I looked it up on Monday and had a read before sending it on. I was pretty nice (as an aside, I’m always pretty nice in feedback. I know that our environment can be a pretty thankless place at the best of times, so I try to go out of my way to provide written feedback to the people I think have done a good job and may not otherwise be thanked). Amongst various specific points about her contribution to the project we were working on, I said:
“She’s been a real pleasure to work with, and approaches every problem with a smile on her face and a desire to move things forwards.”
I meant it too. Five years later and in a completely different job role, she still displays those traits. I told her so and she seemed quite moved, I think mostly because she’s carried this image around in her head that I’m this icy, remote, critical figure and to know that I actually like her and think she does a good job seems like real praise indeed....although, to be fair, this was quite late in the evening after a long and emotional last day for her.
Actually, I’m a teddy bear. Everyone knows that, don’t they? Why on earth do people think I’m dry?
[looks it up]
“ …in which humour is presented without a change in emotion or body language. It is usually spoken in a casual, monotone, or cantankerous voice, and expresses a calm, sincere, or grave demeanour, often in spite of the ridiculousness of the subject matter. This delivery is called dry humour or dry wit."
….oh, I see.