The personal user guide

Wouldn’t it be nice if every person you’ll have to interact with on a project came with a personal user guide with instructions?

Dealing with people is certainly one of the biggest challenges for the success of any initiative. Every human being is unique. An approach that has been very successful with one person can be a total disaster with another. We need to recognize the differences and always adapt our approach with sensitivity and intelligence.

Many problems can be avoided if we know a little bit more about the person we are going to work with and adapt our communication to avoid conflicts and optimize results.

Would you be able to produce a guide to support the people who have to deal with you?

This is the challenge I propose in this article. Using the 6 topics template below, try to make your personal user guide. Consider it a therapy session you will do with yourself. Once you’re done, show it to some people who know you well. Validate your guide with users who are already experts in you. Make the corrections you deem necessary in the guide and take the opportunity to learn more about yourself and how you are seen by others.

Right after the template, you will find my personal user guide. By reading my answers you will figure out how to work better with me and it may inspire you to write your own personal user guide.


Use the questions below as guides to describe yourself on each of the 6 topics.

1. My Style
  • What do I like to do?
  • What characteristics set me apart from other people?
  • How do I think and how do I function?
2. I value
  • What kind of behavior do I admire?
  • What capabilities do I appreciate in people?
  • What motivates me?
  • What makes me happy?
3. Revolt me
  • What behaviors do I have no patience for?
  • What do I hate in people?
  • What makes me want to curse or walk away?
  • What makes me unhappy?
4. The best way to communicate with me
  • How to get my attention?
  • What means of communication and format do I prefer?
  • What information interests me the most when making a decision?
5. How to help me
  • What is the best time and place to talk to me?
  • What is the best approach to make me understand what is expected of me?
  • What do I normally expect other people to do when they work with me?
6. Misunderstandings about me
  • What have I been told about myself that is completely wrong?
  • What do I appear to be, different from what I really am?
  • When someone doesn’t understand me, why does this happen?

My personal user manual

Hello, I’m Fabrício Laguna.

This is a guide you can use to deal well with me without having to figure out how to do it by trial and error or based on misconceptions. I hope this may be useful.

1. My Style

  • I really enjoy working and am really excited about the possibility of producing any valuable results. I’m happy working and I don’t know how to stay idle.
  • I am extremely focused and this characteristic can be seen as positive or negative depending on the context. I can maintain concentration on an activity in which I am involved even in a chaotic environment. However don’t try to talk to me while I’m doing this, because I won’t listen to you.
  • I am not a formal person. I prefer to work in an informal, relaxed environment and whenever I can, I like to put humor in comments to relax those around me. Even with jokes that aren’t very good.
  • I’m a methodical person. I get lost without a script to guide me, so, in order to organize myself, I create methods. 

2. I value

  • I admire entrepreneurship. The ability to undertake something you believe in and make it happen without the need for someone else to ask you.
  • I appreciate the simplicity and the ability to communicate bluntly.
  • People who comply with anything they have committed to and only make new commitments if they know they can satisfy it. I respect someone who denies me a request because they know they won’t be able to fulfill it right.

3. Revolt me

  • People that stop trying because they assume they can’t, using their own incompetence as an excuse to be unproductive.
  • When someone says “this is not my responsibility”. Lack of commitment to the whole.
  • Waste. I can’t tolerate lights on where there’s no one in the room. I hate paying more expensive for something that costs less elsewhere.
  • I hate whining. I have no patience to listen to complaints or bitching. Go straight to the “What can we do to fix this?” part.

4. The best way to communicate with me

  • Simple and straightforward. 
  • Never think I’m going to be hurt or offended. Criticize me and I’ll take advantage of the criticism. It’s very unlikely for me to feel offended by anyone. I am the youngest of 5, so I was trained to be immune to bullying.
  • For decision-making, I like arguments and I will always try to understand all the alternatives available. A spreadsheet may be a great resource.

5. How to help me

  • Don’t even try to talk to me when I’m concentrating. Just let me know you want to talk to me as soon possible and leave me in my own little world until I’m done with whatever I’m doing.
  • When you realize there is something that needs to be done, just do it. Then let me know what you did and if it was wrong we’ll fix it later. 
  • Don’t wait for me to ask you or tell you what to do. I’m not good at giving orders, controling or reprehending people.
  • Don’t expect me to understand you’re unhappy about something I did or should have done by sensing the nuances of your behavior. I don’t have that sensitivity. Complain to me as honestly, clearly, and objectively as possible and we’ll see how I can improve.

6. People misunderstand me

  • As I am communicative and not ashamed to express myself, people think I am extroverted. It’s not entirely true. I’m introverted. I stay much more time in my world, focused on my own ideas or tasks than connected to the people around me. I am not a social being. I’m introspective.
  • The fact that sometimes I don’t understand people’s feelings doesn’t mean I don’t care about it. It’s just a lack of perception. I’ll certainly try to improve my attitude if you help me to understand it.

It’s your turn!

Now that you know me, use me wisely!

What about you? Do you know yourself well enough to write your personal user guide? Take advantage of this momentum and reflect about it. This is a great exercise in self-analysis and can help you position yourself better professionally and in any other relationship are part of.

One good tip is to put aside the approach of looking in the mirror for “flaws or qualities”. Instead, look for your characteristics. Knowing your characteristics, we will know how to use you better when we work together.

If you can share, send me your personal user guide. I’m curious to know you better.