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Put yourself in my shoes

When you’re locked down and seeing very few people in real life, it’s easy to get stuck in your own head. And when you’re not talking to people face-to-face it’s difficult to gauge your impact. Are they happy with what you’ve said? Or are they grimacing with confusion? Or – even worse – have you unwittingly caused them extreme distress because your attempt at a sarcastic comment on WhatsApp hasn’t come across the way you intended?


I realise I use a lot of non-verbal signals when I’m talking to people. I’m guided by their body language and facial expressions. I can see when their interest is aroused or waning. And eye contact is very telling.

But at the other end of a webcam it’s not that simple. There are far fewer non-verbal clues. I can get some of the body language but the laptop screen is a barrier. And with written communication it’s even harder.

I’m very conscious of this, though, so I make extra effort to consider how I might be being received. I put myself in the other person’s shoes and think about how they might interpret what I’ve written.

How have I started or ended my message? Is it part of an ongoing conversation or do they need some context? What else is going on with them right now? Have I been polite enough? Or might my message sound overly formal? Or overfamiliar?

Some days I struggle with the messaging I receive. And I think if they had just put themselves in my Jimmy Choos they wouldn’t have made such an impossible demand, and they might just have included a ‘please’ or ‘thankyou’.


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