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Leadership: Deception / Candour

Recently, I read an article online about how leaders can effectively use deception to get employees to succeed, on how sometimes telling a lie that they are very good can be an effective strategy to elicit good performance from them. A friend and me got to discussing this and he happened to say, “Even armies are coached to deceive their enemies so what is wrong to use it if I can get things done?”

This got me thinking… and here are a few thoughts on that theme…
Staying in the context of  leaders in an organization being deceptive to employees or managers being deceptive to their team members for better performance, and not venturing into aspects of getting one’s way or having a subterfuge personal agenda or war etc. ..  purely keeping this application in mind:

I believe that the word deception can be replaced with either motivation or perception. Instead of really intending to mean deception, one can look at it as choosing to positively motivate by looking at what can be rather than feel pulled down by what cannot be n in helping people see the plus side.

Deception therefore, can be construed as misleading, as overall the point seems to be as an essence – if you can make people believe they can do well, then they will! – and that what we believe is what we achieve – now this, we have been agreeing from eons..

Deception as a strategy, does not help long term in forming allies… or bonding relationships. It helps when you are on opposite sides or it helps when it is a one timer. Otherwise integrity always is the more successful long term option especially when it is leadership.

For example, for a while, going in line with the article, a fantastic example (I do not know of the truth of this example, just that it is quoted in many a places so using it here) of using deception positively: there is this very popular story of how Napoleon got his very disheartened n defeated soldiers to fight back by tossing a coin and saying that if it falls heads then they are destined to win n if tails then to lose – saying which he tossed the coin, it came up heads and the soldiers, motivated beyond themselves, fight and win! Later when his commander calls it luck that the coin flipped heads, Napoleon is said to have smiled and showed him that it was a double headed coin, there was no chance for a tails at all.

Now correlate this powerful example to today’s organizations. Four major differences

1. today’ organizations are flat in hierarchy and nowhere like an army; today’ leaders cannot get away with making such an independent decision

2. the possibility of information staying outside of a grapevine is less likely, thus the probability of more pepole getting to know about the double headed coin is high

3. anyone can walk up and demand information (unless it is strictly confidential) or ask questions to even the leader, thus having the leader to sometimes even answer for and validate his/her strategies sometimes

All the above 3 ways where today’s organizations work differently from the situatuon that Napoleon faced.

Now this deception still would work one time and maybe a second time but what would happen if by chance someone realized that it really wasn’t the truth, that it was deception? That may break the bonds of trust and demotivate even further, leading to disastrous results.  Better way is to go the Kung fu Panda way – that the secret ingredient is yourself – and create and nurture that belief in people that they can achieve a lot more if only they believed to be able to do so.

I mentioned 4 differences in Napoleon’ and current organization’ situation. The 4th is that there it was a crisis and he said what need to be said. One may argue, today also that, maybe in crisis, leaders  can choose to create that deception. Maybe true that sometimes in crisis, leaders have to withhold information and make that choice. But one thing that leaders today can do that Napoleon couldn’t/wouldn’t is that post facto crisis they can sit the team down, tell the facts, and explain to them why it was essential to do what they did and how the strategy to make them believe worked for the best thus causing them to increase their belief in themselves…

All in all, it is the bonds of trust, the transperancy on communication and the positive integrity of the leader that ultimately works long term, both in organizations as well as in relationships.

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June 4, 2016 Posted by | RevathiOnline Learning, Training and Learning, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Trust and Trustworthiness

Trust and Trustworthiness

Trust! A word we hear so often in various scenarios in life. From couples in love to friends at any time, between family members to a husband and wife, there is always a need for people to be able to trust the other person or people that they constantly associate. Trust is said to be immensely difficult to build and takes time while it can be shattered ever so easily. In fact, trust is known to be one of the finest attribute that can make or break any relationship or any friendship.

 

What then is the place of such a personal and emotional concept in an organization? Where does an attribute that builds bonding and affection between individuals on a very personal level – where does that come into perspective in a professional scenario? Trust as a concept is highly sought after and talked about and intended to be implemented in any place where teams exist in an organization or one needs to work with other teams or individuals.

 

In fact trust is imperative in almost any working scenario where there is an interaction between two people. Do we know that the other person is telling the truth? Do we know whether we have all information or any is left pending? Are we sure that the other person is competent and skilled in what they are doing? Whilst we are following, can we believe that the leader has our best interests in mind? When we are leading, can we rely on the team to rally forth behind us wherever we go? These are the kind of questions, the kind of scenarios, where trust, single handed can make the difference between a yes and a no.

 

But wait a minute, you would ask! Aren’t the answers to all the above questions supposed to be yes anyway? Don’t we just need to trust each other no matter what, because we are a team? What choice do we have anyway but to have to work together and learn to grow that level of trust? It may take a little time but I know that I need to trust the other team members or the others in the organization. It is because of these thoughts that many of us miss out on one of the simple and fundamental aspects of trust building. Yes, agreed that we have to trust the other person, it is a given – but having said that, we fail to ask the other question – what is the other person doing to make us want to trust him / her???  

 

Let us now turn this situation and question around and ask ourselves from the other perspective. Yes, agreed that our team members, peers, superiors ad subordinates have to trust us, it is a given – but having said that, we fail to ask the other question – what is it that I am doing from my side to ensure that I am trustworthy???

 

As one thinks of the above question, there arises another very relevant question – what is trust composed of? How does one build trust? Yes, one needs to be reliable, consistent, and dependable and honest, but what really are the major components or ingredients of a trustworthy individual? One way to look at this is the following equation:

 

Trust = Reputation X Behavior

 

Let us understand these 2 words independently first and then look at how the correlation tends to enhance or reduce trust.

 

Reputation: Reputation is many a time combined with other words such as image or character, etc ad most often than not, is used to talk about the beliefs or opinions that we generally lay out about anything or any person. For the same of our understanding for being trustworthy, one’s reputation comes from not only just people’s beliefs about that person but also based on a certain track record of the person. For example someone with a qualification or experience in an area is reputed to be a subject matter expert in that area. Reputation is the image that an individual holds at work – from knowledge and competency levels, to their experience, to how they look at situations to how others have seen them perform one’s competency or reputation helps one to be more trustworthy. So, we need to constantly work on enhancing our knowledge and skills and keep learning as a continuous process so as to continue to build an environment of trustworthiness in the organization.

 

Behavior: Behavior is almost always simply defined as anything that one says and does. Any words or actions from the individual tend to reflect and define that person’s behavior. Many a time people tend to form judgments on one’s attitude by looking at one’s behavior when in fact it is not important for us to know the attitude or the reason behind the behavior than to concentrate on the impact of the behavior. A one’s behavior stays consistent over a period of time, an individual is considered more and more trustworthy.

 

Reputation and behavior work dynamically together as a combination for trustworthiness. A one’s reputation grows, people expect consistency in behavior and as the consistency increases, people respect the reputation more, thus generating a positive atmosphere for trust!

 

Today, in organizations across the world where individuals work in virtual teams and sometimes do not even meet each other for a long time, trust and trustworthiness plays a very critical and important role to keep the teams emotional bonded and consistently productive with least interpersonal conflicts and problems. One needs to know the image one is projecting to others whilst also ensuring that their behavior is consistent with that reputation.

 

Maintain your reputation! Project consistent behavior! Be trustworthy…

You have the power!

 

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Revathi Turaga is an International Trainer and Inspirational Speaker. She can be reached at http://www.revathionline.com

July 21, 2013 Posted by | The Hans India Newspaper, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Grow from FAILURE!

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed!’

The above statement of Michael Jordan reflects beautifully the attitude of ‘never give up’! Time and again we have heard that it is not how one falls, but how one gets up again that counts towards one’s success. Failure is often viewed as the opposite of success, and refers to the state or condition of not meeting the desired outcome. However, I look at FAILURE as “Free Again to Innovate and Learn Until Reaching Excellence”! Here’s how…

One of the first stories I remember hearing about a never give up attitude is that of a king, who, after his kingdom was conquered by his enemies, absolutely exhausted and de-motivated, went into hiding in a forest wherein he saw a tiny spider attempting to climb out of a crevice. The crevice was too steep and too wide for the spider and the moment it made two steps forward, it just slipped one step backwards. It looked like it could never reach the top. However, the king noticed that the spider didn’t give up. It kept slipping, but kept keeping on… until it finally reached the top of the crevice on its way to its freedom. Seeing this, the king suddenly felt free too! Motivated, he gathered his few troops and, marched against his enemies and saved his kingdom. Sometimes, when one fails, one needs to realize that they are free from the earlier attempts, to start again, all fresh and anew!

We have all heard the wonderful adage “try try again till you succeed!” However, what we do not realize in history is that every scientist who has tried again and again has not tried the same way again and again. For example, let us say you are walking on a road and there is a big rock in the way that blocks your path. You can’t pass. Now, the next time you walk, would you walk the exact same path again? Or would you walk around the rock or find a way to move it or change the path itself? We would obviously do one of the latter. Hence, when one fails, it is not that one has to simply try again, however one has to analyze what happened and creatively try another method. One needs to learn and innovate!

Martin Luther King defined excellence as ““If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” Excellence can be attained only through continuous learning after learning through failure after failure. Though everyone fears failure, those in search of excellence embrace their mistakes and learn from them for further growth an implementation. An entrepreneur may in fact regard failure as a very positive experience: as a prerequisite to success, a chanced discovery, a profound teacher, a future value-adder, a provider of new direction, an enhanced motivator, a path to achievement and even as a relieving liberator towards excellence.

We’ve been taught from an early age that failure is a bad thing. When we do poorly on tests, we receive a failing grade. When a business goes bankrupt or dies, it is said to fail. We were constantly reminded every day that failure is something negative. But today, most entrepreneurs and scientists and business leaders are starting to understand the positives of failure! History is adept of thoughts from various scientists such as Thomas Watson who said “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate” and Edison who said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.

In today’s scenario, failure is such a common occurrence it should come to be expected. So, ensure that you develop thicker skin if failures and setbacks seem to bother you. It is very important you learn from every failure and that the same failure isn’t repeated or experienced twice as this could lead to unnecessary waste of time and money and even possibly fatal mistakes. Thus, choosing to look at FAILURE as “Free Again to Innovate and Learn Until Reaching Excellence” means that even though each idea we try may not work, it still would help to bring us that much closer to an idea that does. To that end, experiencing failure becomes a very essential and necessary step in arriving at success.

Remember, when you fail next, choose to innovate!
You have the power!
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Published in ‘The Hans India’ newspaper on 15th Sept 2011

October 6, 2011 Posted by | The Hans India Newspaper | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A.B.C.D.E. of Interviews

Tell me something about yourself.
Why do you want to work here?
What do you know about our company?
What are your weaknesses?
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Tell me how and when you were a team player last?

Questions such as the above can be any interviewee’s nightmare, the reason more often being that there can be no right answers! Then, how to prepare to ace an interview is a skill that most interviewees look forward to learning.

Whether it is a student aspiring towards his/her dream job, or an employee interested in getting promoted, or a consultant looking forward to collaborate with a potential client, successfully attending and closing an interview in one’s favor is very essential. It is not just what one knows, but also the perception one gives, and how one responds to the interviewer that help make or break an interview.

So, knowing how to handle oneself before and during an interview is a skill that every student needs to master. However, with the number of books and the amount of material available in the world today, it is difficult to specifically get to the few basic and simple pointers for the same. Here is a simple way to remember the key skills, just as simple as remembering A.B.C.D.E.

1. A: Attitude of Positivity – It is said that when one wishes and imagines of positive things to happen, they see that the Universe helps in positive things to happen! Many a time, our positivity, or negativity drives us towards almost deciding whether or not we can accomplish something, and this attitude sometimes make us to either step up and surge forward, or else to give up and let it go. How many times have we heard that proverb, “Where there is a will, there is a way!” that if one only determines that they wish to achieve something in life and works hard, they overcome any roadblocks in their path to success. In ‘The Secret’, Rhonda Wayne tells one to give out positive messages to the Universe and that it would help positive things to happen. In ’The Alchemist’, Paulo Coelho says that when one really wants something, the entire Universe will conspire in helping one to achieve it. Right from our scriptures to the latest books, the world around us constantly messages us to think positive, be positive, and that positive things shall happen to us, even in succeeding in a job interview!

2. B: Bookish Know how – Knowledge is power! In today’ world, where everyone speaks of the attitudes and skills one should learn to build rapport and successful conversations, it is important not to undermine the importance of the basic theoretical and subject knowledge in the areas the person is attending the interview. One definitely needs to know the concepts and have read enough literature to be good in the subject and to be able to answer any relevant questions. Read books, visit libraries, talk to experts. Do what it takes to know about the area in which you wish to work.

3. C: Competencies –Today, the various techniques that can be learnt to build the requisite skills and competencies are innumerable. From the ability to ask the right questions, to building rapport, to having smooth conversations, to articulating one’ s thoughts, to understanding and expressing about oneself, to listening effectively, and confidence building, it is essential for students to get trained and gain the competence so as to confidently attend any interview. Learn techniques to build confidence and to connect with other individuals.

4. D: Dream – It is often said that even the world will step aside to make way for one who is surging towards their dreams! When companies ask interviewees where they see themselves in 5 years, they are not expecting a prediction of the future. What they are looking for, is to get an insight into the vision of the future of the individual, into their dreams and ambitions and aspirations. In fact, French writer and Nobel Prize winner Anatole France once said, “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” It is this belief and desire that organizations look for when asking about one’s goals and dreams. It is wise to remember that desire creates action! … and to learn to focus and work towards goals.

5. E: Express – Articulating one’s thoughts can many times, be a challenge. I remember the umpteen times that students have said, “Ma’am I know the answer, but just could not find the right ways to say it!” One of the hardest things to do when you’re communicating, especially interviewing, is expressing yourself and your thoughts accurately. It is vital to say things just the way you mean them, and just the way you want them! One needs to overcome the fear of expressing themselves. Feel confident, learn the above techniques, and say what you wish to say! You might not get another chance!

Master the ABCDE… ace interviews!
You have the power!

Posted in ‘The Hans India’ on 22nd Sept 2011

September 25, 2011 Posted by | The Hans India Newspaper | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 3rd Alternative

“The 3rd Alternative” is a management technique used for resolving conflicting situations. This is derived from understanding to use the age old American proverb, “There are three sides to every story — your side, my side, and the right side!”

Exactly who said the above is not very clear in the texts of history. History shows that way back from 1802, John Adams, the 2nd President of the United States of America popularized the use of this adage. The concept however, is sound even to today’s individual and organizational conflict situations and scenarios.

The most common reason why conflicts occur anywhere is ‘individual differences’. This could mean a difference of opinion between two people on how to perform a certain task, or a difference in the understanding or desire of goals to achieve, or in differences due to different cultural habits, or a difference in common interests, etc.

‘The 3rd Alternative’ is a powerful technique to use when there are individual differences that lead to a conflict. The process is as follows:

1. Find an individual, a 3rd person other than the 2 individuals involved in the conflict. Ensure that this person has the capacity and the intent to remain neutral and unbiased towards both the parties involved. This person serves as a mediator.
2. The 1st party submits their case to the mediator, from his/her perspective, with facts and emotions, with no interruptions, except from the mediator in case of an clarifications
3. The 2nd party submits their case to the mediator, from his/her perspective, with facts and emotions, with no interruptions, except from the mediator in case of an clarifications
4. The mediator steps away from the 2 parties and ponders over the situation at hand considering both the facts and feelings from both perspectives.
5. The mediator then comes up with a neutral and unbiased solution which would be as fair as it can be, and presents the solution to the 2 parties
6. The thoughts of the 2 parties on the proposed solution are listened to by the mediator
7. The mediator rethinks on his/her solution, alters it if need be, and presents it back to the 2 parties.

Though, this technique can also be done with one of the two individuals involved in the conflict taking on the role of the 3rd party, it is however not suggested so because it could later lead to assumptions of bias on part of the individual.

One of the examples of the ‘The 3rd Alternative’ can be found in the story of 2 brothers in a village who were left with a large plot of land and no will after their father’s untimely demise. They are at a loss as to how to divide the land equally between them such that it would not result in any unpleasant situations either then or later. So, under the assumption that he would be the best person to approach the situation from a neutral unbiased perspective, they go to the village head and ask for his help. “We love each other a lot”, they said to the village head, “and do not wish to fight now nor ever. We are confused how to resolve this situation without creating any unpleasantness. Please help us!” The village head comes up with a solution which, on first instance seems utterly ridiculous to the brothers. He says, “Toss a coin. Decide who says ‘heads’ and who ‘tails’. The winner of the coin toss would get the opportunity to divide the land into 2 parts, in whichever way he wishes to do so.” The brothers were aghast! How could the village head say this, they wondered? Wouldn’t it be awfully unfair to the other brother, they questioned? The village head smiled and then gave the remaining part of his solution. “The brother who wins the toss would get the opportunity to divide the land into 2 parts in whichever way he wishes to do so, but, the other brother would have the privilege of choosing which of the 2 parts he wishes to own!” The brothers walked away, happy, and marvelling the wisdom of the village head to look for the 3rd alternative!

Attempt to perceive the 3rd alternative! Resolve your conflicts…
You have the power!

Published in ‘The Hans India’ on 8th Sept 2011

September 20, 2011 Posted by | The Hans India Newspaper | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breaking Paradigms

A paradigm can be described as a certain mode of thinking bounded by particular parameters and criteria. During any situation or problem, while looking for a solution, an individual has certain assumptions that they make, certain preset notions and rules that they believe in which guide them to think of possible solutions to that situation. These rules and beliefs are within the stipulated paradigm or thinking of the individual or of the society or the field in which the individual is working. These paradigms, though very useful in resolving situations, many a time also limit one’s thinking and perception. Today, we are going to explore the world of breaking these paradigms, i.e. the world of ‘paradigm shifts’!

One of the most popular notations of ‘paradigm shifts’ is as given by Stephen Covey in his bestselling book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. In this book, Covey talks of paradigms with 2 perspectives. One, of how the passengers in a train, initially irritated by the ruckus created by 3 kids, taunt the absent-minded father for not disciplining them. Later, after learning that the 4 of them were returning from the kids’ mother’s funeral, the passengers understood the uneasiness in the children’s minds and thereafter, started to encourage them to make more noise and jump about, thus attempting to take the kids’ minds off their mother’s departure. One additional piece of information, Covey says, can change the entire way of looking at a situation. He refers to this as a paradigm shift in thinking! Information may also create paradigms, says Covey, through the famous example of the same picture having both an old woman and a young beautiful damsel’s pictures. People would only see the side of the picture that they have been fed information on earlier. Thus, paradigms always exist, and it is possible to also break them and look beyond them.

We see things in a certain way, under certain defined rules. Many a time that helps us to find solutions as well as common notations of interpreting situations. However, some times, stepping out of these rules and boundaries is what gives rise to innovation. For example, from the perspective of mathematics, the answer for ‘what is half of 13’ would always be 6.5! However, assume this from a linguistic perspective, and it may be as 13 i.e. 13 divided with a horizontal line midway. Or it can also be 1I3 i.e. a vertical line between 1 and 3. Once one starts to look beyond the defined rules of mathematics and starts to accept other perspectives, it is possible to find alternate solutions, alternate methods, and alternate paradigms. When solving a mathematical problem, it is important to stay within the realm of mathematics, however, other times, once in a while it can be creative and also a little fun to step beyond the obviously accepted norms.

All great inventions are children of this fantastic phenomenon of ‘breaking paradigms’. From a Galelio who thought beyond the accepted norm that the earth is the centre of the Universe, to an Edison who kept thinking beyond what is known in electricity, to the Wright Brothers who chose to look beyond what human beings can do while inventing the technology of aerodynamics, from the challenge of putting a man on the moon to the experiments conducted on the atom by Rutherford, looking beyond paradigms has always been difficult, revolutionary, and has resulted in extremely successful and useful inventions!

The most powerful example of breaking paradigms that comes to my mind is that of Roger Bannister, who in 1954 decided to break the paradigm that existed in human minds – a paradigm that was considered reality and a medical truth – that the physical human body cannot run a mile in 4 minutes! It was medically proven to be not possible for the physical body. No athlete across the world could accomplish this impossible feat! Roger Banister, a medical student, decided that this was a paradigm in the mind, and on 4th May 1954, for the first time in the history of sports, an individual ran a mile in 4 minutes! Something considered literally impossible!! The most interesting outcome of this paradigm breaking, is that just within the next one year to that event, many more athletes could run a mile in 4 minutes. Today, almost every athlete can run a mile in 4 minutes. Did the human body change??? Or, did the paradigm change???

So, let us understand that, for all of us, paradigms exist! They are in our minds! They are useful! They help in resolving situations and problems with known tried and tested formulae! Sometimes, paradigms can limit. We need to learn the ability to work with the existing paradigms whilst also striving to look beyond them for creative alternatives…

Embrace other paradigms n work with them! Resolve problems creatively…
You have the power!

Published in ‘The Hans India’ on 28th July 2011

September 19, 2011 Posted by | RevathiOnline Learning, The Hans India Newspaper | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

be SILENT to LISTEN!

Sshhh!!! Silence please!!! Keep quiet!!! Stop talking!!!

Words which, I am sure, will take many of us back to our childhood and Kindergarten classes, right??!!! Right back to our teachers shouting and trying their best to get us to listen to their lessons and to their instructions! That we have to maintain silence in order to be able to listen is an age old formula that we have always been taught and will continue to teach for generations to come… and rightly so too!

In today’s corporate scenario, it is neither just technical competency nor just the hardworking ability that take priority whilst employing individuals. Communication is one of the vital aspects taken into consideration too, and a core aspect of communication is the ability to listen. In today’s fast moving world, maintaining personal relationships has sometimes become a challenge, especially when both partners are busy with their respective jobs and have lesser and lesser time to give each other and their family. In both the above cases, taking time out and truly listening to the other person can be an effective solution.

It cannot be just a coincidence that the words LISTEN and SILENT are anagrams i.e. are made out of the same alphabets! It is therefore, but natural that for us to learn how to LISTEN, one must learn to be SILENT first! Let us now understand what being SILENT means:

• S: Sincere – Do you remember the times when the person in front of you was smiling with a sombre look on their face, with all the right signs of listening, and yet you just know that they are not interested at that time, that they are not sincerely listening to you but just so for the heck of it??? Well remember this, so can everyone else make out too!!! Yes, so here is the first step to being SILENT to LISTEN: be sincerely interested in what you are supposedly listening to…

• I: Inquisitive – Be curious. When one is intently listening to something, one’s brain automatically keeps working on the same too. This raises questions in the listener’s mind which they would want clarified. This also helps the speaker to understand that the other individual is truly listening and attempting to understand what is being said. It is thus a good idea to ask relevant and non-threatening questions to customize the conversations.

• L: Like person – Make sure that you like who are listening to… Their communication ability, their competency in the subject, their handling of the audience and the content, etc… Many a time I have seen listening of an amazing topic go flat just because according to the listener, the speaker’s behaviour and value system did not resonate with what was being said. Not just the content of what is being said, but also the person saying it has a lot of impact on how well it is listened to. Ensure that you talk to and are hearing from the right person.

• E: Empathize – Sometimes listening is not just about hearing what is being said, but it is also about communicating feeling what the other person is feeling. Especially when the other individual is sharing information connected with emotions, be they positive and negative, that of joy or sadness, one ought to be able to relate and express empathy on the same towards the other person. After all they are talking to a human being and not a wall!

• N: Non-verbal communication – Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear your words!” The impact of the right non-verbal communication whilst listening is vital for the other person to get the feeling and acceptance that listening is happening. So, nod once a while when appropriate, smile at the other person, lean forward, show facial expressions, and let the other individual know that yes, you are listening!

• T: Talk- Listening also involves talking… to a certain extent! One needs to paraphrase (repeat the speaker’s words in their own words) once in a while. One also needs to ask the right questions to continue and steer conversations while also summarizing points once in a while. Also important to talk during listening, is to once in a while also express thoughts about self to the listener as course of self-disclosure in order to continue conversations smoothly. So, talking to the right extent n in the right manner is vital to listen effectively!

From Robert Cialdini who said that listening to the other person helps you to convey your point more effectively, to Stephen Covey who emphasized listening as very important under his 5th habit ‘Seek first to understand than to be understood’ in his popular book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effectively People’, the importance of listening to one another is highlighted in many ways. We ought to learn and practice the above constantly!

Be SILENT so you can LISTEN…
You have the power!

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Published in ‘The Hans India’ on 25th Aug 2011

September 4, 2011 Posted by | RevathiOnline Learning, The Hans India Newspaper | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Conflict Resolution Styles

It is said that conflicts can be either destructive or they can be constructive. The difference lies in how they are resolved! Every individual has their own preferred style of resolving conflicts. Also, different situations and scenarios have their own apt conflict resolution styles. We shall understand a few over here now.

To understand the conflict resolution styles, let us first know what conflicts are and how they are formed. A conflict is a deliberate and conscious intent to oppose another. Conflicts get created when two or more individuals oppose one another in a personal or professional or social situation. This happens when the individuals need to work together but may have different goals. This also happens when the both individuals want the same thing that is scarcely available. Every individual always aspires to maximize his/her gain in any situation, sometimes even without due consideration at the expense of another person involved in the same situation. This invariably leads to a struggle to wanting self to win and keeping others from achieving their win, thus resulting in a conflict.

When a conflict is resolved properly using the appropriate style required at that time, it provides a clarification and problem solving quality that increases involvement and enhances growth and strengthens relationships! Research establishes five popular conflict resolution techniques:

1. Withdrawal – when one retreats from a conflicting situation or a problem
This happens when an individual shows less value and importance for both their goal as well as their relationship with the other individual. The individual is then said to be behaving much like a turtle that withdraws into its shell to avoid any conflict. Sometimes when the conflict is not relevant to self or when the other individual is purposefully instigating an individual, it is better to behave like a turtle and avoid the conflict altogether.

2. Smoothing – when one tries to focus more on common areas of agreement or no conflict and attempts to avoid getting into areas of disagreement or conflict
This happens when an individual gives a lot more value to the relationship at hand than to one’s own goals at that time. The individual is then said to be behaving much like a teddy bear which would want to be accepted and liked by other people and do not like to damage relationships. This is the route to take up to avoid conflicts with close ones and live a life of harmony

3. Compromising –when one searches for a solution that appears to give a certain level of satisfaction to both parties, while ignoring certain other criteria of the conflict
This happens when an individual gives moderate importance to both goals and relationships. The individual is then said to behave as a fox which usually tend to give up part of their own goals in order to persuade others in a conflict to give up part of theirs. In these situations, both sides gain a middle ground between two extreme positions. Situations when a balance needs to be worked out for the common good a compromise is a good solution.

4. Forcing – when one attempts to push or force one’s view or stand of the situation onto the other thus creating a sense of winning while the other loses in the process
This happens when an individual gives a lot of importance to their goals and very little importance to their relationships. The individual is then said to be behaving as a shark that would try to overpower opponents by forcing them to accept their solutions to the conflict. When the goal is very important and critical for oneself, it is at times, vital to fight for one’s rights.

5. Confrontation – when one directly addresses the issue at hand by talking with the other party and discussing amicably to create a mutually agreeable and acceptable solution
This happens when one highly values both their goals as well as their relationships. The individual is then said to behave as an owl that views conflicts as problems to be resolved and seeks out a solution that helps both people involved in the conflict. When it is important to seek out solutions that satisfy everyone, it is important to work out a conflict by confrontation.

The above categorization is based on how much one values one’s goals and priorities vs. how much one values one’s relationships and associations. Just as each individual has their own preferred style, also each style is effective in certain situations.

Be aware of one’s and other’s conflict resolution styles! Resolve your conflicts…
You have the power!

Published in The Hans India on 18th Aug 2011

August 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Wrong Handshakes

In today’s corporate as well as cultural scenarios, maintaining certain accepted etiquettes are important. Etiquette can be defined as the forms, manners and ceremonies established by convention as acceptable or required in social relations, in a profession or in official life. Etiquette gets formed right from the word go and the initial handshake to the sustenance of perceptions over time. Technically, a handshake is known as a short ritual in which two people grasp one of each other’s opposite hands, in most cases accompanied by a brief up and down movement of the grasped hands.

As per a display in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin and other places, right from the 5th century BC times of ancient Greece, shaking hands while meeting has been a tradition between two soldiers and represented a truce where neither side wielded a weapon. The handshake slowly moved into the western culture and into the area of corporate etiquette. It is important for one to know how to successfully wield the customary handshake in a corporate scenario. Thus it is important to also know how not to give the ‘wrong’ handshake!

A handshake can reflect and let the other person perceive a lot about your personality. There are so many wrong ways to give a handshake. Some of them are as follows:
The Dead Fish: Patricia Rossi, the author of ‘Everyday Etiquette Made Easy’, calls this “The worst handshake in the world,”. This is when the hand is floppy and flimsy and project insecurity and non-commitment.
The Politician: This is when one shakes with the right hand and cover the shaking hands with their left hand. According to author Matthew Rothenberg, this feels too personal and too early in the relationship.
The Wrestler: This is so vigorous a handshake that can almost rip the other person’s arm out. It may convey that one is too eager and pushy
The Queen or The Fingertip: This is when one extends just their fingertips to another person. It conveys the feeling that the individual does not want to touch the other person.
I’m stronger than you are: This is crushing the bones in the other person’s hand so much just like trying to wring all the juice from a lemon. It makes it look like one needs to prove themselves.
The Oww!: This depicts an overeager person who may catch the other person so much by surprise on the handshake, that it becomes awkward for the other person.
Oh ok, I’ll just pretend to care about meeting you: This handshake can be very limp and apathetic and very awkward for the other person, and gives the impression that one is disinterested
We’re now bonded together for eternity: This is when a handshake does not end and just feels like eternity. This happens when people are a little too happy to greet you or who are extremely nervous and forget to let go. You do a few hand pumps…and then some more…and some more…and finally, hopefully, your hand is let go!
Aha! Am sure you didn’t see that one coming: This happens when the individual does something different, mostly out of nervousness. For instance, this can be when one is putting the left hand out for a handshake when everyone usually uses their right hand. This can lead to fumbling and even embarrassing situations. In these scenarios, it is a good idea to follow the crowd and use the right hand.
A good proper hand shake is called a ‘winning handshake’. It consists of a firm but not bone crushing grip and lasts about 3 seconds while maintaining good eye contact. The person has to be approximately 3 feet away. The hand has to be angled towards the chest with thumb pointing upwards. The other person’s hand can be ‘pumped’ once or twice from the elbow and then released, even if the introduction of the person continues.

Learn to meet, greet, part, offer congratulations, express gratitude, or complete an agreement well. Master the ‘right’ handshake!
You have the power!

Published in ‘The Hans India’ on 11 Aug 2011

August 30, 2011 Posted by | RevathiOnline Learning, The Hans India Newspaper | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Performance Coaching – The STAR Way

From the era of Ramayana and the Mahabharata in the times of Rama, Krishna, and Drone, performance coaching is an age old tradition in India. In today’s modern world of Shiba Maggon and Gary Kistern still follows the very same principles of the yester years coaching.

In the corporate scenario today, coaching works wonders in helping individual performers and teams achieve excellent results by introspecting within and working together. This not only contributes to the entire persona of the individual, but also and helps organizations move towards sustainable growth.

Coaching as a practice is not about telling one what to do. It is more about understanding the situation by asking questions and aiding the individual to arrive at the right solutions.

Corporate executive coaching requires working with an individual on a particular goal or result area in their professional development. It is usually a creative and thought provoking process by which the coach enables the coachee to think and maximize his/her potential and performance in the goal or result area under consideration. The various goal of coaching can be in areas of career management, performance enhancement, managing personal, professional and organizational changes, enhancing problem solving and creativity, effective conflict resolution, amongst many others.

A trained professional uses many techniques and methods of coaching, one of them also being the STAR model i.e. (a) Situation (b) Task (c) Action and (d) Result model.

The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) format, an avid interviewer’s powerful tool can also be used as a coaching technique that can be used by executive coaches to help individual and teams enhance performance and productivity in specific areas or situations.
The STAR model can be used when the coach needs to help the coachee to re-visit an experience, learn from the same, and implement in the future.

For example, when there are conflicts occurring in a team, or certain organizational changes like mergers etc, this model works effectively. This is construed by making the coach and the coachee/team to sit together, explore the various facets and avenues of the existing situation through a series of questions, thus gather all the relevant information and there after arrive at a most applicable and sustainable possible solution.

• Situation: Take an example of a situation that can either work as a positive situation or a challenge. Explain and elaborate the situation with all specific details of all the tasks and individuals involved in the situation. Example: the recent disagreement of the employee and their supervisor over a client presentation.

• Task: The various tasks that led to this situation and can lead away from the situation are explored. By asking the appropriate questions such as: Why has this situation occurred in the first place? What has the individual done so as to be in this circumstance? What learning can we take away from the present situation, for the future? What can be done to arrive at a solution in this present scenario? Various options of possible further steps are enlisted.

• Action: What did you do? The earlier actions are re-visited, examined, and evaluated. The coach helps the coachee to identify the aspects in self that created the current situation, understand why it happened, and analyze on what action can be taken to (a) overcome the challenge now, as well as (b) learn to avoid repeating similar scenarios in the future. The various alternative action plans are drawn up and evaluated.

• Results: How was the current situation the outcome of the individual’s past actions? How did the past actions work against the objective the individual had? Once the individual is aware and has eliminated these same aspects in the current possibilities of action, further exploration into the possible outcomes or results of the action to be taken are analyzed. What will be the outcome of the current set of actions? What can the individual achieve through these actions to meet his/her objectives. How can the individual implement the learning from this experience?

The important aspect for a coach to remember while using the STAR model is the ability to ask the right questions and wait patiently for the coachee to explore the situation for possible answers. As a coach, one must always note to remember Winston Churchill saying “Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like to be taught.” Helping one learn themselves from their experience is the core of any coaching process.

Follow the STAR process, and coach away!
You have the power!

Published in ‘The Hans India’ newspaper on 4th Aug 2011

August 5, 2011 Posted by | The Hans India Newspaper, Training and Learning | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment