It’s hard to see how others hear you.
I remember when I first heard my voice on an answering machine. I hated it. I couldn’t believe that was how I sounded. I couldn’t understand why the voice I heard on the machine sounded so different from the one I heard from my mouth. I was reminded of this phenomenon one evening when I heard a snippet of myself.
I had been practicing for a moot court competition this past month. I’d stand at a podium three days a week, in front of teammates and attorneys who act like judges. They give me feedback on what I’m saying. And as the competition drew near, they gave me feedback on how I’m saying it.
The last day wasn’t my best performance. I stumbled a bit and tripped on my words. I’ve never been a comfortable public speaker. The judge made an innocent critique and suggested I video-tape myself . He clearly intended to help me smoothen my delivery. You know, to see how others hear me. And that’s just it. It’s hard to see how others perceive us. Sometimes when we do, it’s a tough pill to swallow.
That night, on a walk with my then girlfriend, this point was brought home. After I finished whining about fake judges who bruised my ego and moaning about a job I have and don’t want to, I asked her how her day went. She told me about bathing and bandaging her patients, describing the various wounds and maladies, to which I asked — just to make sure I wouldn’t be catching anything — um, you’ve washed your hands, right? I then saw in her watery eyes the weight she carried and though she bit her tongue, I wished she had slapped me.