Wouldn’t it be great if we each had a user’s manual?

I’ve been reading about this great workplace concept, Cathryn Lavery who created the BestSelf journals shared it with me earlier and I immediately saw it not as a workplace tool but as a life tool.

Because let’s face it, most of us get to know people through trial and error and vice versa, people get to know what we like and dislike through a hit or miss kind of experimentation.

And sometimes we don’t even have a clear idea of who we are ourselves because we don’t spend any time clarifying it for ourselves or anyone else.

So, I wanted to share this with you as a task to do and you’ll be doing it with me, because I’m going to be doing it today for myself too.

This is the article that originated the idea https://qz.com/1046131/writing-a-user-manual-at-work-makes-teams-less-anxious-and-more-productive/?ck_subscriber_id=1036608891

You can read about it there or just follow along with my instructions here.

The user manual aims to help people learn to adapt to one another by offering an explicit description of one’s personal values and how one works best with others. This shortens the learning curve for new employees, and helps everyone avoid misunderstandings.

But let’s face it, we have misunderstandings with everyone, not just at work but with family, in our relationships, in shops and restaurants – all the time – everywhere.

So lets create our personal user manual and lets face it, this is going to be so good for our own self awareness as much helping other people interact with us.

What a fabulous concept, I’m so excited by this because if we met people and immediately were able to exchange our truthful user manuals, we’d have so much fewer fall-outs. We’d never get together with people who didn’t like us because we’d know right from the outset we’re incompatible.

Its the truthful bit that would trip us up because like everything, people like to smooth off their rough edges and highlight their good points. As we all do on our CVs or resume, on first dates and such.

But even if only used for ourselves, it will help us align with people who fit with our values and goals in life. There’s nothing worse than discovering someone you admire suddenly has an abhorrent belief that changes how you feel about them irrevocably.

I really recommend you read the article before doing this for yourself because you’ll learn a lot from how the journalist worked though creating her own manual with her colleagues.

And here’s another resource for more background: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leaders-need-user-manuals-what-i-learned-writing-mine-abby-falik/

This is a great opportunity for self reflection and I would advise updating it regularly, especially after significant life events, every year would be great.

Let’s get started and be as honest and unfiltered as you can – challenge yourself to go deeper, below the surface to get to your truth and not the ‘socially acceptable’ version of you:

Section 1. My Style:

  • What are the honest, unfiltered truths of who you are?
  • What drives you mad?
  • What are your quirks?
  • What makes you immediately like someone?
  • What makes you immediately decide to distrust another person?
  • What qualities do you value in the people you interact with? Do these reflect qualities you own or ones you feel you lack?
  • What might someone misunderstand about you that you should clarify?
  • Are you action orientated and like to get things done or do you like to think though all the options and check out every possible outcome before you make a decision?
  • Do you romantise life or are you a face reality head on without any illusions kinda person?
  • What do you not have patience/tolerance for?

I’ll just share some of my answers so you can see an example to guide you.

When I am avoiding my truth/my feelings I will lose hours on the internet reading news or rewatching my favourite tv shows such as Buffy, The Gilmore Girls and Battlestar Galatica and maybe Game of Thrones.

Rudeness drives me mad and people taking advantage of those more vulnerable. I am driven to protect and fight the fight for other people, even more than for myself.

I have to speak to every dog I meet in a weird baby voice and I also talk to birds, cows, any and every animal I meet really. I need to know what time it is all the time. I hate not knowing the time and I hate being late for something.

I immediately like and warm to people who like my dog, are kind to other people and animals and who are smiling in a genuine way. People who give of themselves whether its time or energy or donating to good causes.

I immediately distrust people who are overly friendly and intimate way too quickly like the salesman who uses your name all the time or the Facebook connections who immediately inbox me telling how beautiful my smile is. Weird!

People might misunderstand my directness as lack of caring when its the exact opposite. I like to get straight to the heart of the matter and not waste time faffing around. I think I may frighten people off with my intensity and desire to cut the crap to go straight to whatever trauma they experienced.

I totally jump in and make decision instantly, for good or bad.

And I’m a totally romantic. I always believe everything is going to work out no matter what happens. Every decision will work out for the best.

I hate bullying in any shape or form and am always going to jump in wherever I see it happening. I hate disrespect of public spaces and will again, jump in and get involved in stopping vandalism etc. I have no patience for poor customer service and cheaters and scam artists.

Of course you can add as much personal detail as you’d like but boil it down to the essentials, because a 1 or 2 page manual is more likely to be read than one 100s of pages deep.

Values Section

  • What are your 3 core values?
  • Why did you choose those 3 values?
  • What other values do you appreciate in others?
  • What values do you appreciate in leaders, whether community, corporate or political?

More information on core values to be found here if this is a new concept to you.

Section 2. How do you interact with others.

  • What is the best way to communicate with you? this includes the type of communication ie. text/messenger/email/phone call/in person.
  • How do you coach people to do their best at life/in work and develop their unique talents?
  • What is the best way for someone to convince you to do something?
  • How do you like to give feedback?
  • How do you like to receive feedback?
  • How can people help you get your work done, make your life smoother and more efficient?
  • Do you have a life motto? Will it help people interact with you? (Mine is ‘see people as innocent’ so say what you mean because that’s how I’m going to interpret your words.)
  • Do you immediately trust people or choose to wait for them to ‘prove’ themselves?

I am going to go away and go even deeper with this in my journal. But I already see a clearer picture of myself emerging.

Its so important for us to know ourselves because we get so caught up in drama and illusion and the automation of our thinking and showing up through our subconscious programming.

This work brings us into conscious thinking, this questioning of ourselves brings us closer to the truth of ourselves and gives us more ability to live from this rather than that autopilot that keeps us stuck.

To be yourself you have to know who you are. What is the truth of you?

Until you know that you will be living a life that feels less than what you want because you’re living on autopilot based on programs written when you were too young to know what was available to you. Written when you were vulnerable and biologically programmed to please and fit in just to survive.

That’s not who you are now, those programs are no longer relevant.

Questioning yourself, going deep within to heart and soul, searching for what chimes as truth with you, that will help you dissolve the automated programs because you’ll start to see how not relevant they are to the person you are now.

Enjoy this exercise and let me know how good it was to get to know the most important person in your life.

That’s You!


Cynthia xx

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