Reality Check: What you see is what you get

WYSIWYG, pronounced “whizzywig,” means, “What you see is what you get.” I know the phrase from the olden days of computers—back when it was a big deal to have the display on the screen actually reflect what was printed. Computer technology has come a long way.
Some people use, “What you see is what you get” to describe themselves. (Here’s a little trivia gem: apparently it was Flip Wilson who made it popular.) WYSIWYG essentially declares, “This is who I am, no pretension, no airs, no hidden agendas. I truly am the face that I present to the world.”
There’s a positive to that, of course. People get to know you and trust that there’s no contradictory backstory.
As with so many positive actions, there can also be negative applications.
“What you see is what you get” can be an attempt to excuse behaviour that would otherwise be considered blunt and hurtful.
For example, Jordi says to her niece, “You need to lose a ton of weight or you’ll never find a husband.” That’s pretty harsh! Jordi justifies her judgmental commentary from the perspective of, “I don’t pretend. What you see is what you get.”
To choose to present yourself as who you truly are is all well and good. However, if you take the approach that it’s important to blurt out every critical thought that pops into your head regardless of how it might be received, there will likely be consequences.
By “relationships” here, I am referring to both personal and work relationships. Sometimes, people don’t recognize that their interactions with folks at work, whether with co-workers, supervisors or customers, are real relationships. They view work discussions as a kind of forced interaction; forced because we often don’t get to choose who we work with, work for, or serve as customers.
For example, Jordi also has a few choice things to say about work. They include, “I don’t care. I hate it here. Don’t bother me.”
Now, whether Jordi is expressing her sentiments to her co-workers or her supervisor, or just conveying her attitude in non-verbal ways to her customers, it doesn’t make for a very pleasant work environment, does it?
Again, Jordi’s justification is, “What you see is what you get. I’m just being honest. In fact, I’m superior in my honesty, because nobody else here likes it either and I’m the only one who will say it.”
There’s a recurring theme in these columns that I often refer to. It goes along the lines of, “Start by asking, what do I want?”
If Jordi honestly considers and acknowledges what she wants, both from her work and from her niece, she may be able to come up with more effective actions; actions that could actually help her achieve her wants.
For example, does Jordi want to continue working there? Or not? It’s good to be clear. Her answer to that fundamental question will guide her next step.
Does Jordi genuinely want her niece to be happy and have a loving relationship? If so, she could say so. She could ask if she can help in any way.
However, if what Jordi wants is to feel the power of being critical, then what she is doing is likely working pretty well. It may not work forever, though. Even in families, when criticism gets too intense, people find a way to walk away so they don’t have to hear it anymore.
The quality of our interactions can make a huge difference in our experiences and in the experience of the people we deal with. It’s worth the effort to find ways to present ourselves authentically, without destroying relationships along the way.
What do you think of “What you see is what you get?”

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