I’ve been on the road, on the drawing board and constantly on my emails trying to coordinate a project. I am knackered physically and even more mentally. This project is sort of like a milestone in my career, when been given such a hard task to be the local architect for an international project, I just can’t afford to overlook anything at all. At this design stage, my task is sort of like being a middle man to the client and the UK’s leading design architect. I’m feeding these Brits the local requirements and comment their designs and then convince to the clients and project manager to buy that idea. Its starting to take its toll on me, Daisy’s been realizing that I am more absent than before and I seem to be too tired to attend to her whenever I’m around.
I’m lucky though, to have a husband who has the same profession as me. People commented a lot, how boring it must be to marry an architect when you’re an architect yourself. But I differed, because its not just a great thing to be speaking the same language everyday, I not only found a best friend to talk to but also a colleague who apprehends the demand of this job, responding to my work troubles instead of just listening. It makes the husband and wife relationship distressful when we can relate to each other all the time.
But sometimes when you do too much, you start to wonder whether people notice your hard works or not. Then last week the client called me and mentioned how impressed she was with my email correspondences with the UK architect, that before I took on this project, communications failed and the project didn’t progressed much due to that. She loves my way of explaining things, the language I use and how I put humor in such a stressful situation. Obviously I was over the moon and found hard to get down for awhile. But really, its just emails. The client probably didn’t know that writing is natural to me. And I think that was the first time I ever received acknowledgement since I started working in Malaysia.
I have my fair share of getting work experience in UK. I worked for 2 years in two architectural practices with substantial amount of impressive local portfolios. Not to mention the part time temporary jobs at department stores all those years as a student. Suffice to say I’m used to being given credit for hard works. Even when I was selling furniture, my floor manager would tap my back and say “Good job” for arranging the layout of the furniture department. That was just moving sofas and tables here and there, its kind of no brainer and every second person in this world do that in their living rooms. And it is the same case when I was working as architectural assistant. The associates I worked under never failed to say “Nice drawings..!” or “That’s great that you found out about that Eco windows..” whenever I seemed to did something right. Even these UK architects I’m delegating with right now will mention things in their emails like “Thank you Shaliza for updating us with the outcome of the meeting so promptly, even you were probably tired from your travelling..” and the other architect on the team will follow it with, “I have to join Chris to say thanks for the update and for your good work in presenting our concepts at the meeting.”
Compliments and kind words seem to flow like water in the river from mouths of the British. And it gets really frustrating in Malaysia when you’re not acknowledged the same way, especially from your bosses who also happen to be your parents. People tend to highlight on what you do wrong, but when you do something right, it is considered that’s just your job. I was so happy that the email from the UK architects circulated also to my parents and every single person involved with the project. And now in every email, everybody seems to make a culture to acknowledge the hard works of each other, and that it even came from the least expected person to do that, which is the project manager who all this while seemed vulgar. And my reply to them will be, “Theo, I only did a good job at presenting your concepts at the meeting because you’ve been feeding me with substantial amount of information, and didn’t leave me hanging with just drawings or pretty pictures. So, good job you too!”
My friend argued that in Malaysian context when praises were given, it could easily be misinterpreted as an excuse to boast back or be bossy. Well of course, compliments should be given accordingly, not overwhelmingly. But I find all these credits been given seem to be working on upgrading my motivation to do things even better than before, to outshine the previous compliment, to impress them until they run out of words. I give credits to all my assistants, even to the cleaner boy who after praising the cleanliness of my office, I find it now recently that my room is not only clean, but smells good too.
So if you’re a boss or has someone working under you or with you, give credit when credit is due. Make it a culture. I can assure you that psychologically people tend to seek for more credits, praises or compliments because its a good feeling. And lets just hope the way they want more compliment is by doing more hard, good or even better works.