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Me, Myself & I

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Vegan, Cat lover, Quotes maniac & Purple obsessed / Localization Expert, Localization Manager, Blogger and Translator (DE/EN/FR > IT)
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Monday, July 28, 2014

The rocket science of a good Skype conversation, or how not to forget the human being on the other side of the line...

To me, Skype is one of the best inventions ever.
It makes it possible to communicate with everyone provided with an Internet-connection almost everywhere in the world in a very convenient, easy and pleasant way. In real-time. At almost no cost. With a webcam, if needed or desired. Just awesome, right?

Yes. And yet, communication via Skype can also be a thorn in one's side.


Let's imagine a pretty mundane scenario: you are online, logged in on Skype, you are maybe working or reading an article or listening to a wonderful playlist or doing something else and at the same time you are chatting with someone, and then... 

The conversation slows down. The other person needs more and more time to get back to you, the answers become shorter and maybe sloppier and then... the person just stops to reply. At all. Let's say... for hours.
And suddenly the person goes offline without saying a word. 
Neither a "Have a nice day", nor a "I am leaving", or even a "Good night" or just "Bye" or whatever. Nothing. Nix. Rien. Nada. Nichts. Niente di niente.
How would you react?

[Historic Skype Purple image in rétro style...
Version 0.90, so loooong time ago!]

Please don't get me wrong, let's be clear about the matter.
Of course something can go wrong, of course the person can have some kind of problem or he/she can suddenly need to go away or to get focused on something/someone else.
Emergencies happen, as well. And  for sure each of us has a bad day, once in a while, right?
But what if this is the "normal" scenario? What if this happens on a regular basis, if not almost every time?

What if the other person does it without even noticing it?
Would you keep talking to the person, if you are free to decide for yourself about this matter? (while meaning that the person is not a colleague, or even worse your boss or your landlord or your teacher)

Maybe I am a little bit old fashioned, but I consider a Skype conversation being like an "in-person" conversation.
This means that, while talking on Skype, I will be nice and polite. I will pay attention to my language and above all to what the other person is saying/writing. I will say/write the name of the person properly.
I will inform the person if I am going to be away from keyboard from longer than 15 minutes and for sure I will say that I am leaving when I am going to leave.
At the end, I will thank my interlocutor for his/her time or saying that I enjoyed the conversation, if this is the case. I will appreciate the good tips I got or think about the suggestions induced by the conversation and will let the person know about this in a second time.

I don't consider it rocket science.
I consider it part of a respectful human interaction between people happy to talk each other and aware of the fact that someones time is a wonderful gift and that a good conversation is priceless. Something to be thankful for.

I like to treat people how I want to be treated on my part.
I like to make people feel good while talking to me.
I like to enjoy the time together and to make the best out of it, it doesn't matter if the conversation is about work or it is a private one.
It doesn't matter if it is in person, or via Skype or via another channel.

The secret of a respectful conversation? To me it is very easy.
While communicating, one should never forget that each time, for each conversation, there is another human being on the other side of the table or of the computer screen or of the phone or of the "Skype line". With needs, expectations and dreams. With feelings and fears.

What about you?
How strict are you about Skype netiquette?

Previous posts:
One of the biggest Skype mysteries ever
A-Z-Z-U-R-R-A... with two Z and two R, bitte!
Slices of farinata, flirting in another language and grammatical uncertainty, or being happy to living as an expat while missing 7 things about Italy

Tags: Skype, Skype conversation, Skype netiquette, Virtual communication

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mirror, mirror on the wall, what do you think about people paying someone else left-handed compliments?

- You know, the first time we met, I really didn't like you that much.
- I didn't like you.
- Yeah you did. You were just so uptight then. You're much softer now.
- (She stops and puts both hands on her waist) You know, I hate that kind of remark. It sounds like a compliment, but really it's an insult.
- OK, you're still as hard as nails.
- I just didn't want to sleep with you, and you had to write it off as a character flaw instead of dealing with the possibility that it might have something to do with you.
- What's the statute of limitations on apologies?
- Ten years.
- Ooh. I can just get it in under the wire.


Billy Crystal as Harry Burns
Meg Ryan as Sally Albright
When Harry Met Sally... by Rob Reiner (USA, 1989)

[When Harry Met Sally... 
One of the best comedies of the last 25 years, 
or how one can pay homage to the wonderful classic comedies 
by George Cukor, Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder in an original way]

I don't know about you, but I like it when someone pays me a compliment. 
I do like to hear someone telling me that I am smart, intelligent, funny, sensitive, sexy, or professional. I like to hear that my dress is elegant, that my make up is perfect, that I did a good job, that I said something interesting, that I am a fantastic friend. I like to be appreciated. 
When someone tells me something nice, I usually smile and say "Thank you!". And I mean it every single time.

Does this sound like a no-brainer to you?
Well, in my experience some people find such a situation very stressful indeed. 
They don't know how to react, or they are not sure that the compliment is genuine. They are afraid of sarcasm and bad jokes. They feel insecure. 
Those people usually try to minimize the compliment itself, to make it sound less important, less personal, less intimate, somehow less compromising.

[How not to respond to compliments...
do these scenarios look familiar to you?]

While hearing a compliment, they may think that they now have to free themselves from an obligation. Or that someone is just trying to manipulate them. Who would love to be manipulated, after all?

With the time I came to the conclusion that not only paying a compliment, but even more accepting a compliment is unfortunately a forgotten art. Most people tend to take a lot of things for granted, without understanding that paying a compliment can make someone else's day. That a sincere compliment is a truly beautiful gift and that the recipient will probably never forget it.

Accepting a compliment, on the other hand, means to establish a connection, to build a relationship, to pay attention to how someone else is seeing us. To be vulnerable, in some way.  
And it has even more to do with showing self-confidence and self-acceptance.



Not accepting a compliment it's not about being humble, in my opinion. It means to me lack of respect for someone else's point of view and/or taste instead. 
If I tell you that you look great and you reply that this is not true, then you are expressing a doubt about my capacity to give an opinion or even about my feelings.

Even worse than that are to me the so called 'left-handed compliments'. A left-handed compliment is, just like the quote from 'When Harry Met Sally...' above the post explains, the kind of statement that could sound like a compliment, but it means actually something negative or ironic or caustic about the compliment recipient.

A couple of days ago, a woman that I see every six months or so, told me (once again...) something like: "You are so beautiful, you look great! Every time that I see you, you are even more beautiful than the previous one. Well, you don't have children, so you have for sure plenty of time to take care of your appearance".

I beg your pardon?

[The Queen (Julia Roberts) taking care of her appearance
in Mirror Mirror (2012) by Tarsem Singh] 

Helena Rubinstein was used to say that "There are no ugly women, only lazy ones", while meaning that beauty has less to do with fate and definitely more to do with time spent on it, sacrifices, perseverance and hard work. 

Yes, taking care of one's appearance costs time. But it is to me something related to self-discipline, esteem for oneself and personal branding. I want to be the best possible version of myself and to show others only this side of me. To walk the line and take care of myself. Everybody is free to do what one considers the right option for himself/herself in this instance.

But why should one pay someone a left-handed compliment just for the sake of making someone feel bad about himself/herself or of belittling him/her?

I personally consider this negative attitude a perfect litmus paper about someone's real personality.
It says way more about the other person than about how much time I could eventually spend looking in the mirror every day.

What do you think?
Are you good at taking compliments?

Tags: When Harry Met Sally, Quotes, Compliments, Taking compliments, Left-handed compliments, Beauty

Previous posts:
Why do I love so much 'When Harry Met Sally...'?
Quando ha senso chiedere scusa?