Personal user manual image

Imagine You Had Their Personal User Manual

Imagine if, before meeting someone for an important meeting, a blind date, or other social event, you could quickly read their personal user manual.

With instructions, warning, and tips for interacting with them, such a user guide could possibly lead to:

Less Awkwardness

  • You’d know what activities to do with them, what not to do, and what to talk about.

Fewer Social Mishaps

  • You’d know how to address that person without offending them, how to not to be offended by their personality quirks, and their dietary restrictions.

More Efficient Collaboration

  • You wouldn’t need months of interaction to know what they’re best at and not so good at, how you can help them, and how they can help you.

To better explain what a personal user manual could look like, how useful it can be, and how to make your own, here’s:

Personal User Manual Example

Chris Blachut

Manufacture:1985 in Vancouver, Canada
Model:Male, 6’3”, 200 pounds
Languages:English (native), Spanish and French (business-level fluency)
Aliases:None. Just Chris.
Primary Uses:Analysis, problem-solving, getting organized

Warming Up


To get optimal, long-lasting, and reliable performance out of Chris we strongly recommend you warm him up prior to intensive use.

Preferred Environments

Good:Home dinner parties, cheap places to eat, outdoor workout area or basketball court
Bad:Expensive events or restaurants, loud parties, and formal occasions

Topics of Conversation

Good:Sports (especially basketball), fitness, investing, unconventional thoughts, business ideas, travel.
Bad:Politics, gossip, religion, music (other than 90s to mid 2000s rap)

Warnings


Manufacture Defects

Allergies: Slight to cats and pollen.
Physical Defects:Bent nose from many accidents and scar under nose from biking into a parked car and landing on his face at age 15.
Emotional Defects: Rarely expresses strong emotion, positively or negatively.

Do Not Push The Following Buttons

Complaining:Chris will not empathize unless you propose solutions to your problem.
Bragging:Do not share your accomplishments with Chris unless asked.
Lack of CommitmentChris does not tolerate people who do not commit to invites in case something “better” or “more important” might come up.

Avoid Personal Injury

Do not take Chris’ feedback personally. His tactless and direct, but well-intended, attempts to help can be misperceived if you are sensitive.

Operating Instructions


Scheduling

Calendar: Schedule in advance. Chris does not respond well to last-second requests, invitations, or changes.
Hours: Best between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Shuts down at 10 p.m.
Frequency: Once a week maximum for social purposes.
Contact:Chris responds most directly to phone calls. He responds to messages a few times a day and emails once a week.

Environment

Noise-Level:Quiet. No loud music or over-crowded events.
Group Size: Small. Chris gets uncomfortable in groups bigger than six.
Working:Leave Chris alone when he’s working for best performance.

Fuel

Restrictions:Eats and drinks everything.
Intolerances:Zero allergies or dietary restrictions
Frequency:Twice a day. Does not take fuel in the morning.
Favorites:Nachos, Dairy Queen blizzards, and taste tests.
Quantity:Significant.

Care and Maintenance


Chris requires minimal care, attention, and maintenance once you have him warmed up and running smoothly.

But please keep in mind the following:

Reciprocate:Chris expects you to return invites he makes to you with invites of your own. If not, he will assume you’re not interested in a relationship.
Avoid Over-Handling:Chris will likely shut down if you use him too frequently. (See: Operating Instructions -> Scheduling -> Frequency)
Feedback:Chris greatly appreciates constructive feedback and takes it unemotionally and impersonally. He does not need compliments.
Assistance:Connect Chris with others. His networking abilities are dismal.

Troubleshooting


Q: Why isn’t Chris responding?

A: Chris typically only responds to emails once a week and text messages once or twice a day. If urgent, call him. Don’t leave a voice message. He’ll call back as soon as he can.

Q: Why isn’t Chris making any noise?

Chris doesn’t like to be the center of attention, prefers to listen than to talk, and doesn’t find silence uncomfortable.

Q: Why is Chris writing on his phone while we’re talking?

A: Chris is adding information from your conversation to his daily journal, where he logs EVERYTHING he does.

Q: Why isn’t Chris looking at me in the eye?

A: Chris thinks better when not looking at anything.

Q: Why hasn’t Chris invited me to do anything recently?

A: Most likely because you have not invited him to anything or you have too frequently turned down his invites. Or he’s out of the country.

In Case of Emergency

For expert emergency assistance and relationship repairs, contact Kim: kim@theunconventionalroute.com

How to Create Your Own Personal User Manual

The quickest and easiest way to make a personal user manual is to start with the general format of my example above and keep in mind the following three tips:

Don’t Use “I”

Personal user manuals written in the first-person (I like… My interests are…) are difficult to use, self-absorbed, and boring. (See examples: 1, 2, 3.)

Avoid making this common mistake by eliminating the word “I.” Write from the perspective of a friend telling another how to use a new tool.

Get Others’ Input

People who know you well are better at explaining your idiosyncrasies than you are.

Don’t argue if you disagree with anything they suggest for your personal user manual. Have another close contact validate or refute it.

Find the Right Length

Don’t be a pretentious smartypants who thinks they can get away with a two-line user guide. (Nobody’s that simple.)

But also don’t overwhelm people with too much detail. (Nobody will read it).

Limit your personal user manual to one or two pages or quick, easy-to-read bullet points.

Would You Use Personal User Manuals?

Kim has little interest in personal user manuals. She thinks they’d ruin the magic of getting to know people by making it too robotic.

I disagree. I think they’d accelerate and improve interpersonal connections for anyone willing to take the time to make and read them.

Which side are you on?

Let us know your thoughts, or improvement ideas in the comments below. Even better, make a user manual of your own and send it to us!

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4 comments

    1. That’s a great idea Pamela! I assume you mean you’d make personal user manuals for your family and friends and give them to them, right? Or are you so complicated that you think they’d really appreciate your personal user manual?

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