Dressing, communication styles, etc.

Sabine Dippel sabine at hlrz28.zam.kfa-juelich.de
Wed Aug 21 02:55:27 EST 1996


In article <3219FD4D.82D at salk.edu>, S L Forsburg <forsburg at salk.edu> writes: 
|> 
|> I've seen this a LOT.  One of my male  colleagues said to me
|> once that my matter of fact, objective, and calm style "hid the
|> quality of the work" compared to the showy, subjective, "Golly I'm
|> brilliant" style of others (where often they set up a straw man to
|> knock down). He added that "your stuff all seems so
|> logical, no one realizes how cool it is."  
|> Go figure!  (I should add that I enjoy speaking and I'm usually 
|> quite relaxed about it).
|> 
|>  Again, one of those things that tends
|> to divide women from men, although many men are objective presenters
|> and a few women are showy.  
|> 
|> My advice:  if you are developing a style, choose showy--you'll be
|> much better off.  

Just to add a bit on that: I am quite lucky that whatever story I tell 
(private or scientific) I get very lively - not what I would call showy,
but it keeps people from falling asleep and from forgetting me right away.
That's the way I am, and I don't need to put on an act (just like you, I 
really enjoy speaking and am always very relaxed and completely "myself"). 

But as to the contents, i.e. to _what_ I say, that's a completely different 
matter. The problem is that once I have found out how something works, it 
does not seem that special to me any more, and I tend to point out the 
problems or new questions that have arisen from my results, forgetting to 
draw attention in the first place to the achievements which were necessary 
to find the new questions. In a talk, this may be overlooked, but in writing,
it has really negative effects. But I'm getting better at it. A few weeks
ago I got a referee report on a paper saying: "This paper looks okay to me.
However, it is quite long considering that the ultimate points are pretty
simple." (These 2 sentences were the whole report.) This really got to me, 
and made me aggressive enough to rewrite introduction and summary to point 
out the achievements of the work, and state that these results solve some
riddles that have been around for a while (no matter how simple they seem 
once they are found - I didn't say that though). Next time I will need no
referee to make me mad enough to write things that way - though it will still
be far more careful than what I see in so many other papers, but hey, I 
don't want to publish anything that might be "used as evidence against me".

But maybe it is possible to find a way in between the two presentation 
styles - my advisor (male) is a real good example of someone who seems to
have found it and is getting along with it quite well...

Sabine

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