Thursday, 19 January 2017

COWS AND LADDERS.



Renu woke up in a cold sweat on hearing the alarm. She was thankful that her nightmare had been disrupted by the faithful alarm. She had been dreaming that a snakes and ladders game was going on in which she was the coin moving up the ladder, and sliding down a cow instead of a snake.

Hearing some commotion outside her fourth floor apartment, Renu idly opened the door to have a look. There seemed to be some house warming ceremony in progress in an apartment on the same floor. Loud mantras were being hurled by energetic purohits to discourage bad spirits and drive away ghosts. Suppressing a yawn, Renu was about to close the door to start her daily routine when she saw her in the yet dim sunlight- a healthy well built cow.

It seemed to be Renu’s day for cows. She had been sliding up and down a cow in the nightmare and now here was another one in flesh and blood, brought obviously for the housewarming.

She looked at the cow with trepidation. The cow also glared right back. The poor animal had every reason to be upset, having been rudely awoken and dragged up four flights of stairs in the wee hours, but it was quite unreasonable to hold her responsible for its misery, thought Renu, unaware that the cow was seeing red in her flame colored maxi.  That was the last straw for the much harassed cow.
The cow was now scratching the ground with its forefeet, a cow’s battle-cry equivalent of the conch or trumpet, used by humans. Within seconds, before Renu could bolt back inside, she charged at full speed.

“Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeee…..,” shouted Renu as she took off at jet speed in the corridor, wondering even in this predicament how her flat feet could be so fleet footed. Though she had the initial advantage over the cow in the race, Renu found herself cornered when they reached the end of the corridor. As Renu looked for escape options, she could have sworn that there was a triumphant ‘got ya’ type of grin on the cow’s face. Then she spotted the elevator and pressed the button .But the moment the doors of the elevator opened, in rushed the cow, before Renu could react. As she gasped in horror, the doors slowly closed, with cow inside.

Even before Renu could recover from the shock and collect her wits about her, she saw a fat,silk sari clad woman approaching , obviously to the elevator. The sari was rich red in color.

The silk mami looked haughtily at the Renu. Her nose crinkled in contempt at the maxi clad Renu.This woman, who was probably on the way to a wedding was quite obviously pleased with her own rich appearance.

When Renu,still speechless in shock, tried to block her way, Silk sari asked impatiently, “What do you want?”

“k..kkk…kkkk!” said Renu, helplessly. “What do you mean, “kkkkkkk…. Now move out of my way!” said mami and pushed the button.

“Cow!” roared Renu finally and just had time to see Silk sari’s face which had reddened on being addressed as cow. But Renu, who knew what was coming , didn’t stay back for any more explanations. She fled from the scene, to avoid scenes of blood and gore and having taken shelter in her flat, watched the proceedings from a safe position.

“Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!……..” shouted a now familiar voice as the silk sari lady ran at jet speed, past Renu’s flat, her precious sari now hitched up very unladylike. The cow, which had suffered the additional ignominy of being shut up in a mini chamber, was now in a very bad mood indeed.

But Renu couldn’t help admiring the fat lady. If Renu’s flat feet were fleet footed, so were Mami’s fat feet. She ran up and down the corridor, screaming at the top of her voice. The priests, who had just finished driving away the spirits were appalled that one was probably missed. Silk sari , however was giving the cow a run for its money and would probably have won all the rounds, but alas! She slipped and fell over some cow dung in the corridor. As she got up trying to salvage her pride and her precious sari, the owners of the apartment where the function was going on, came running to her rescue.

All ended well like in Holly and Bolly wood movies. The militant cow was whisked away, after its hurt feelings were assuaged. Silk sari mami,who had missed her wedding feast was invited to lunch by the house warmers ,(after washing and changing, of course). Renu got herself a new friend that day.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

CALM AND POSSESSED



“She appears so calm, so possessed…”

The judge couldn’t help wondering as he gazed with reluctant admiration at Laya.

She was there in the box- allegedly a victim of rape and abuse at the hands of Vij- who was standing there leering mockingly at her.

His lawyer had made out a neat defense with all required supporting arguments and papers. The clinching evidence in the defense side was a piece of medical paper, signed by some medical practitioner that everything was 'normal' about her.

Now it was mocking time for the suspect and the defense lawyer as they took turns at leering and laughing aloud at her and her lawyer for their utter failure in establishing anything.

“Want to say something?” asked the judge, with ill concealed kindness.

“Just that I had never seen this bloke before he attacked me, and I am in my senses perfectly. So no Earthly motive can be attributed to me for this allegation on him.”

Defense shouted, “But this paper, after a thorough medical examination says everything about you is normal…evidence is everything, is it not, your honour?”

His Honour could only nod, though reluctantly.

“Look, she appears so calm and possessed, the witch!” said Vij, evoking another bout of derisive laughter.

On hearing the word ‘possessed’, there was a sudden transformation in Laya.

Things happened so fast thereafter that even the people present there couldn’t really vouch for it under oath.

Laya seemed to close her eyes for a few seconds and apparently pray…some people said they clearly heard the word ‘Devi’, meaning Goddess. When she opened her eyes, she looked like a fiery demon, possessed, others said.

There was a sudden, violent, lightning movement as she seemed to spring out her box like a wounded tigress. She was so fast, almost superhumanly fast, so that no one could restrain her. There was a haze of light, an aura kind of thing, which obscured clear vision for a short spell in the courtroom.

Only some blood curdling screams were heard. By the time, things cleared up, Laya was back in her box, smiling nonchalantly.

Vij and the defense lawyer were seen lying in a pool of blood, throats neatly, professionally slit.
***
Many weeks later:

It was Laya’s murder trial.

Laya’s defense lawyer was at his eloquent best, “No one in the courtroom is able to say clearly what happened. Laya was seen in her own box, so calm and possessed. There was no murder weapon or blood on her person.”

Then he waved a piece of paper at the judge, “Further, your Honour, here it says she is normal, doesn’t it? Evidence is everything, is it not, your Honour?”

Sunday, 2 October 2016

TOP THREE DEVIANT STRATEGIES TO PLEASE YOUR BOSS



During my long innings in a steel mill, I had the opportunity to be a subordinate as well as a mini boss to many people in the hierarchy. I have keen interest in human nature and used to observe behavior of people in various roles like worker, union leader, boss or subordinate. The fact that most bosses were also subordinates rendered the study of their dual roles more interesting. The golden rule of Jesus, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” was rarely, if at all, followed by these leaders when dealing with their own subordinates.

However, the objective of this article is to highlight a few common behavioral patterns of some of the employees who were ascending the corporate ladder at a pace disproportionate to their skills and capabilities at work. 

Though this is written in a lighter vein and not recommended as an alternative to smart/hard work, the strategies mentioned are from real life observation and have arguably contributed to the not-so-deserving person’s corporate climb.

·       SYNCHRONIZE YOUR TIMINGS WITH BOSS’S.
 This works wonders! While the rest of us used to follow the company timings, these clever guys followed their boss’s schedule.

There was this guy who used to disappear (mostly home-bound) during peak working hours, like from 12 noon to 4 pm. Then he would surface as mysteriously as he disappeared, when the rest of us day-shifters were packing up for the day.

His objective was however, not so mysterious…he simply wanted to be visible to his boss when the latter came on his late evening rounds to the mill to supervise the evening shift production. Some of my evening shift colleagues reportedly even saw him deliberately applying a little grease to his face, for special effects!

Invariably he used to get a special pat from big boss who was certain to remember his long hours at work in comparison with our scheduled exit!

·       GET JUICY GOSSIP FOR BOSS, AGAINST HIS ENEMY.

Now this one is a bit tricky and can be practiced only by the very crafty among us.

But I have seen for myself with reluctant admiration one such quick-climber in this delicate activity. At first neither I nor others could make out his intentions when we saw him whispering in the boss’s ears. When his habit persisted with some other biggies too, we became curious. Later, we came to know that he had the habit of bad mouthing certain other senior but less important officers, who were known rivals of his boss.

Believe me, many of this otherwise intelligent bosses are generally suckers for this ‘us –versus- them’ drama!

·       EAT WELL, FEED WELL, DURING FESTIVALS.

This is by large the easiest method to follow- of the three- especially in India with its multitude of festivals. Relatively more subordinates resort to inviting their bosses over for Diwali, Onam, Christmas and other festivals, where they eat, drink and make the bosses merry.

But I must hasten to add, in this context, that all people involved in this hospitality are not motivated by a desire to please the boss and gain undue advantage- some are genuinely very warm and hospitable and include other less important friends too in their invitation list.

As mentioned before, none of the above strategies is recommended as an alternative to effective and fruitful working. Also it doesn’t cut ice with intelligent, discerning bosses who can tell the chaff from the grain.

But then dumbos are there among bosses too!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

EYEBALL TO EYEBALL

     
Eye, Pupil, Vision, Iris, Human, LensEye, Pupil, Vision, Iris, Human, Lens


                                                           

DEALING WITH DIFFICULT
IR SITUATIONS.

IR situations can be like live ticking bombs and can explode in your face if not tackled with great care.

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The important features are that they are usually sudden (unlike planned agitations), incendiary in nature, highly charged with volatile emotions, and can turn explosively violent at the drop of a hat.

THE TRIGGER

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The trigger for the situation can be almost anything, perhaps as simple as an ‘absent marking’ of an influential employee, or an accident involving one or more employees. But the crowd can swell with alarming rapidity, often leading to an intractable IR situation.
                                              DIFFICULTIES INHERENT
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The difficulties involved in such IR situations are as follows:
        Identifying a leader to deal with.
        Preventing a volcanic type eruption. 
        Finding out the real cause or the ‘trigger’.
        Making them calm enough to bring them to the negotiation table.
        Avoiding a horizontal escalation towards other, unsettled issues.

        Often, especially in the case of an organization with many divisions, an union leader could be deliberately planted from another unrelated division to avoid recognition or since the guy you are familiar with may find it difficult/embarrassing to take a tough stand.
If an union election is due soon, the issue could assume political overtones and evade quick resolution.

RESOLUTION THROUGH NEGOTIATIONS

John.F.Kennedy said:
 Ashleigh Brilliant, a British writer said: (of any situation)

THE DEFUSAL PROCESS

SELECT THE EXPERT


The person/s selected to deal with/defuse such situations should necessarily be:
       A person of high Integrity reputed for fairness and unprejudiced behavior.
       A calm person with tremendous patience who can bravely face very aggressive behavior.
       A person with good communication skills and high E.I.
Preferably a senior with many years of experience and known well to the employees.

OBJECTIVE OF THE DEFUSAL EXPERT

THE PERSONNEL DEPUTED TO FACE THE IR SITUATION ARE OFTEN LIKE FIRST-AID ADMINISTRATORS:

       THEIR JOB IS TO CONTAIN THE SITUATION AND PREVENT A CONFLAGRATION.

MANY A TIME, DETAILED, FORMAL NEGOTIATIONS MAY BE REQUIRED (MAYBE AT A HIGHER LEVEL) TO SETTLE THE PRICKLY ISSUE.

IMPORTANT TIPS FOR THE DEFUSER.

       NEVER GO ALONE TO DEAL WITH SUCH SITUATIONS-HAVE AT LEAST ONE OR TWO RELIABLE COLLEAGUES WITH YOU.
       BRACE YOURSELF TO BE AT THE RECEIVING END OF ANGRY AND EVEN ABUSIVE WORDS. REMIND YOURSELF IT IS SELDOM AIMED AT YOU PERSONALLY.
       KEEP A MOBILE PHONE HANDY AND ASK FOR QUICK RESPONSE BACK-UPS TO BE AVAILABLE.

FURTHER:

       Do not ever try light banter or jokes till the surcharged atmosphere is relaxed, even if you spot a friend or acquaintance in their midst..
       Do not argue though you may feel they are wrong.
       Do not make obvious attempts to divide and rule.
       Avoid a one-to one discussion in a closed room even though you are tempted to escape the mob. At least have one (preferably more) representative from each side. Else, you could be accused of using bad language or assaulting…or the other party may actually get away with assault.
       Never make fun, even if some ridiculous statement is made.
       Never take it personally, unless there is some deliberate malafide intention.
       And finally, there is no ‘one size fits all’ type of solution. Every situation has to be dealt with after quickly assessing the ground realities prevailing at that time.

SOME KEY PHRASES THAT COULD HELP

        “I/We do understand your anger.”
       “Let’s discuss this right away.”
       “I/We request you to tell with whom to discuss this issue.”
       “I/We have come to hear you out fully. Please allow us to listen to the problem carefully.”
       “You may rest assured that your points/sentiments will be conveyed promptly to Management.”

VITAL POINTS ON BODY LANGUAGE:


DO NOT GRIN AS FAR AS POSSIBLE

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NEVER POINT A FINGER/S AT THE MOB, EVEN IN GOOD INTENTION.

NEVER MAKE/SHAKE A FIST WHILE TALKING.

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DO NOT THUMP THE TABLE INE EXCITEMENT WHILE MAKING A POINT.

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DO NOT FROWN OR OTHERWISE SHOW YOUR IMPATIENCE OR IRRITATION.

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BOTH HANDS VERTICALLY LIFTED UP WITH PALM OUTWARDS, AND MOVING TO AND FRO IN A PACIFYING MANNER MAY SOOTHE FEELINGS.

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       PRESENTING A SERIOUS LOOK WITH A HAND CUPPING THE CHIN THOUGHTFULLY WOULD HELP TO CONVEY THAT THEY ARE BEING LISTENED TO.

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FINALLY:
       If the gathering is re-assured and is in a mood to relent, you may now relax and smile at them and even shake hands.
       Ask your colleague/assistant to record the vital points for communication to higher Management.
       If the crowd is unconvinced and getting more restive even after a reasonable time at negotiations,  call for help before the situation goes out of hand, and beat a dignified retreat if required.
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