User Guide To Working With Vance


After reading a recent article from Julie Zhuo, a writer I’ve been following for a long time on Medium, and recently Substack, I’m inspired to write a “user guide” not just for self-reflection, but also for my future self to look back on.

Basically, it’d outline the professional context of how I view myself as a team member, and what I think others view me based on my experiences in a workplace environment. It’d be broken down into:

  • Introduction
  • How I view success
  • How I communicate
  • Things I do that may annoy you
  • What gains and loses my trust
  • My strengths
  • My growth areas (weaknesses)

I think it’s an excellent exercise for anyone looking to improve their professional selves and most importantly, build stronger relationships with other co-workers because office politics are not pleasant to deal with.


Hey there! If you’re reading this, I’m thinking you want to understand me better in a professional context and how both of us (and others in the company) can help one another achieve more for the company.

Everyone of us is unique and has our own perception, biases, and background that will affect how we communicate and interpret messages. With that in mind, there’ll be several areas we won’t agree with each other, but it’s important to have a diversity of ideas – that’s how brilliant things happen!

Most importantly, I want to be transparent about what I think my strengths and weaknesses are, so you and I can leverage my strengths, and hopefully, help me improve on my weaknesses so you’ll benefit as well. I encourage you to write something similar to this to help me understand you better too – every relationship is a two-way street 🙂

How I view success

Process over outcome: Outcome is important, but without the right process, we won’t be able to replicate desirable outcomes. Repeatable, proven process ensures that any form of success translates to long-term sustainability.

Learnings over triumphs: There’s no point in winning a battle if it means losing the war. Like processes and outcomes, learning from a mistake is better than winning without knowing why.

Everyone wins: When the entire team wins instead of just one or a few people, that’s the ultimate success a company can wish for. That means the company doesn’t need to just depend on one person, but the collectiveness of the entire team. No one wants the weight on his or her shoulders alone, even if it means gaining the whole company’s “worship”.

How I communicate

Introversion: I lean more towards introversion so I’m generally a better communicator in writing than in person. But I still love to have conversations in person, just that I might not make sense sometimes – please stop me and clarify with me if that’s the case.

Blunt: I can be straightforward and blunt at times with my comments, but please understand that I mean absolutely no harm.

Emotions: I’m not very good at expressing how I feel, so I tend to over-rationalise (a recurring theme), making me appear cold. That’s the opposite – I’m actually very emotional, just that I don’t show it on the surface because I tend to deal with those emotions internally. If I seem too cold when I communicate with you, please know that it’s not intended, and feel free to ask me how I actually feel if you think I’m covering it.

Mode of communication: I’m very much a text message person. That means if you need anything from me, skip the email formalities unless it involves more than just the two of us or requires a paper trail. I believe text messaging has enabled big and small companies move at lightning speed and we should definitely leverage how instantaneous of text messaging. But do note that I might take up to a few hours to reply, but rest assured I would read the message almost immediately. If it’s urgent and important, I’ll reply almost right away, if not, I’ll reply within the day or less.

Availability: If you’re in my team and you need me for something or to run something by me, please message me directly and I’ll try to make time for you as soon as possible. This includes after office hours, especially if it’s important or urgent to you, and I trust your best judgment for it.

Things I do that may annoy you

Too rational: I can be too rational sometimes when you confide in me regarding work-related challenges, and I realised that doesn’t help some people. If you’re someone who wants more of a listening ear and less of solutions, I’m trying to become that person, especially if you look up to me as a senior you can count on apart from outcome-based projects.

Impatient: I like things to be done fast, if it’s simple and straightforward, and especially if it’s an urgent and important matter. Sometimes, whether it is something I request from you or you request from me, I would either expect it to be done fast or I would complete it quickly for your feedback. Please only get back to me when it’s convenient for you if that’s the case.

Siding with others and not with you: I get this a lot from people with whom I’m worked – when they tell me about a challenge or problem with others, I tend to think the best of everyone. For example, I would find reasons to justify the challenge or problem, but I understand sometimes others want me to agree with them on a simple matter. I’m learning to be more empathetic in this area, please bear with me.

What gains and loses my trust

Ownership and transparency: Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but only those who are aware and acknowledge their weaknesses will gain trust and respect from others, me included. If we screw up, we own up to it, regardless of the stakes or our position.

Gossiping and badmouthing: If you can gossip behind a colleague’s back, that means you could do that to me too if we’re not on good terms.

Accountability: We all have our responsibilities, and it’s only right that we’re fully confident of what we take up. If we own a metric, we must make sure our conscience is clear and we do our very best. That’s basic work ethic.

My strengths

I’m a “how” person: If you’ve read Simon Sinek’s Start With Why or watched his TED talk, you would know that starting with the “why” of everything is most important. My “why” is being the “how” person (maker/manager) who helps the “why” (visionary) reach the goal. I relish understanding the intricacies, technicalities, and details of how something works, and I’m often able to solve problems that way.

Rational: I’m not the most rational person for sure, but I consider my ability to think logically and rationally through problems an important factor in achieving my best work (I’m a “how” person), often allowing me to solve complex problems that don’t involve that many people or emotions.

Organised: I don’t always like a very structured or organised work experience, but I love keeping things in order because it gives me the feeling of being in control of my outputs and outcomes. Tracing back on historical records isn’t a problem, and that means I also very seldom miss out on things.

My growth areas

Understanding emotions better: Because I’m rational, I tend to overlook emotions, especially those of others. I try to look beneath the words, actions, and behaviour of others whenever a problem arises involving feelings. Please call me out if I’m not caring or sensitive enough in those cases.

Showing more care towards others: As mentioned above, I deal with my emotions internally most of the time, and I often take it for granted that others can do it too. It’s tough dealing with emotions when all you can think of is anger, impatience or jealousy. I’m trying to do better in expressing my concern for others in the team by checking in with others more often, making more small talk, and hanging out after office hours.

Getting my points across: You would think a frequent writer like me would be more adept in expressing ideas and concepts, but the truth is, writing is a lot different from speaking. I used to have stammering issues and terrible anxiety in speaking up (privately and especially in groups), but I’m learning with each interaction.

I hope the above is helpful in helping you understand the context behind the person that I am in the professional workplace! I look forward to reading your user guide soon too. Cheers to a fruitful working partnership.

About the author

Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.

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by Vance Wong


Vance Wong

Brain-picker. Cinephile. Koreaboo.