Own Poetry Hindi

छीन लो

कवि का अलंकार छीन लो,
कागज़ की दीवार उठा कर
निर्बल की पुकार छीन लो।

यौवन की ललकार छीन लो,
तोड़ समाज का ताना-बाना
बुढ़ापे का आधार छीन लो।

नोट का सारोकार छीन लो,
बंद कर दो इंटरनेट, मज़लूम
की हाहाकार छीन लो।

प्रगति की रफ़्तार छीन लो,
समय के बढ़ते पहिए की तुम
ताक़त ओ सरकार छीन लो।

Own Poetry Hindi

पाप का घड़ा

जाने कैसा नियम बुना है,
पर मैंने ऐसा सुना है,
कि तुम्हारे भगवान
दयालु और बलवान
पाप का घड़ा भरने का
इंतज़ार करते हैं।
फिर अवतार लेकर
पापी का संहार करते हैं।
तो क्या इनके पापों का घड़ा,
अब तक नहीं भरा?

Business & Entrepreneurship

Feedback on Personality is Useless, even if Right!

I was looking for an article that lucidly explained why, in a professional setting, giving people feedback on their personality (problems) is not useful (typically to your subordinates, but even to your peers or others). While the advice to avoid bringing in personality in the feedback is almost universal, it is usually buried under “99 things to keep in mind while giving feedback”. There is this one article I found that specifically addresses the issue. It is perhaps an extract from the book Radical Candor. While it covers most important things (read it), the problem is that the examples it employs are too extreme, which may make people feel that they aren’t making the mistake the article describes when they indeed are. Nobody who has cared to search the Internet for “how to give feedback” is likely to be giving feedback like “you are a jerk” to anyone, which is one of the examples in the article. You would have to be a jerk yourself to give feedback like that. But that’s not what giving feedback on personality is like. You can totally not act like a jerk and still give the wrong kind of feedback. I will perhaps be rehashing mostly what has been said in the article, but let me do that with examples that may actually make the point better.

Consider this. There is a salesperson who isn’t doing well. And they are shy. “You are too shy” seems like valid feedback, doesn’t it? Sales is a job where shyness will hamper the work.

But it isn’t useful feedback. Why? There are two possibilities. First is that the person is indeed shy. If they are, they can’t change their personality. So, the feedback is not actionable. The second possibility is that the person isn’t really shy. Their behavior might have something to do with the circumstances. Maybe they feel threatened, maybe they lack confidence. In that case, you have simply given the wrong feedback. At least being called shy is not particularly offensive. But what if you thought someone had an aggressive personality which was coming in the way of their work and gave them that feedback, but you were wrong in assessing their personality. In this case, they will feel misunderstood and unfairly treated, and they would be right.

So, the bottom line is that no good is going to come out of giving someone feedback about their personality. In the best case, you are right. That they have a personality-related problem, but they can’t change their personality. So, you will not get the improvement you had wanted. In the worst case, you are wrong. And have unleashed a different set of managerial problems for yourself. And your feedback is still not actionable as a wrongly-diagnosed personality problem

I would like to emphasize the hard reality of both these problems. First, personality is really not solvable. People don’t change much. Not even for love, much less for work. Even personal relationships that are started in the hope of a partner changing themselves eventually result in disappointments in the best cases, and disasters in the worst.

And the danger of being wrong about personality problems is also pretty high. The reason is called the fundamental attribution error. When it comes to other people, we have a tendency to assume that their behavior reflects their personality, and not the current situation. We would assume that if they are arguing, it’s because they are quarrelsome by nature (and not because they have been provoked or put in a bad situation!) So, even if the behavior you observe could be explained by a personality problem, it need not be because of that.

Given this rather high probability of being wrong about personality, and the uselessness of giving even the correct personality-related feedback, why would you ever want to give feedback like that?

So, what to do if you feel there is a personality problem hampering someone’s performance? You give exactly the same feedback as you would have given if the source of the problem was not their personality. You give feedback on what the problem is (you didn’t meet your sales targets). You can perhaps go a step further and point out the behaviors that are inadequate, or are desired but missing (you did not follow up enough with most of your leads). Perhaps the person is able to act on the feedback and you realize later that personality was not really a problem. Perhaps, despite a personality problem, they are able to solve the specific problem with their conscious effort, or by working around their weaknesses. In which case all is well. And if because of the personality problem or despite not having the personality problem, their issue is not resolved, you take whatever is the next logical step. Perhaps an underperforming salesperson does need to be let go, whether or not they are shy!

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Own Poetry English

I, Misfit

Misfit

In a big, grand, happy family,
With women cooking lovingly,
Children playing merrily,
Men coming back home after a hard day of work,
Being treated royally.

Fretting over the patriarchy,
The mundaneness of life,
And the narrowness of mind.

Misfit

In the corridors of power,
With men trampling on whoever they can,
And women striving to catch up,
To make it in the world of men.

Fretting over the privilege
Taken for granted; and judgment
On the less endowed flying about.

Misfit

On the roads, behind sloganeers,
Activists in black armbands, determined,
Convinced of their worldview,
Noble, but flawed and incomplete.

Fretting over the lack of nuance,
The disregard for the truth,
In search of revolution.

Misfit

In the streets on the city fringes,
Smelling thick of sweat, alcohol, cynicism
Of drugs, of lives languishing,
Of hopelessness, dead rebellions against the system.

Fretting over the futility,
The pointlessness, the waste,
Misfit – even among the misfits.

Feminism

One Year of #MeToo. Where was I?

It has been more than a year and it is time for me to revisit my post Understanding #MeToo as a Revolution. What had I said?

Almost for the first time abusers have been sacked or had to step aside. But here is the thing. One year down the line, many of them are likely to creep back. The power structure is still there, and it is still owned by men.

Depressingly, this is true. Abusers have crept back. Anu Malik is revisiting your living rooms through TV. Many, many other examples have been painstakingly documented by @IndiaMeToo twitter account. 

What about this?

One totally unintended and depressing outcome would be even more bias against hiring women. Because people don’t change that easily. All the existing biases against women will continue working, and now men in power would “fear” being “outed” for “even smiling at women”. So, no wonder if such people come up with the solution of not hiring women in the first place.

There aren’t definitive reports from India, but many from elsewhere suggest that this might very well be happening.

A new kind of horror will, of course, be if too many innocent people are consumed by the fire that is spreading. There are a very small number of cases that look like it, but the attempts of high jacking the revolution by vested, conservative interests are obvious. I won’t worry too much about individuals trying to get personal vendetta out of it – I think those die down easily. But institutional bad faith can totally destroy it.

This, I am glad, hasn’t happened.

MeToo-unsplash

Overall, in the light of “not much has happened” many prominent media reports are only too happy to write #MeToo off. Indeed not much has happened to the system and to the patriarchal sanction granted to powerful men. But with Priya Ramani fighting a lawsuit and Chinmayi Sripada not getting work, much has happened to the victims. They are still being victimized and they are still speaking up. And it is all a bit too much!

I did say this the last time.

For those asking “What will come of it?” as persistently as the men mentioned at the beginning of this article asking “Where is the proof?”, it’s not going to become a gender-egalitarian world right away. So, don’t bother declaring it a failure because “x hasn’t changed” and don’t pretend to be wisely annoyed when another fight is started.

I am not happy about it, but I have proved myself fairly prophetic on this issue, even if it is mostly on the negative or non-outcomes.

For now!

As to, what should you be doing with it? Still the same!

If you aren’t an abuser, congrats! Sit back, relax and make sure you don’t look the other way the next time an episode of harassment is going on around you. It might have been uncool, unsporting, puritan to protest it in past. Now you have the excuse of a revolution. And yes – stop being sexist in every other way too.

#MeToo is still a revolution and it may resurface, again and again, if the system refuses to budge.

Thoughts

I, Introvert!

Most people, after they have seen me speaking on a stage and interacting with people afterward, find it difficult to digest that the reason I want to crawl into an empty room and spend the next twenty-four hours on my own is not because I am physically tired, but because I am an introvert and am done with people for a while.

“You didn’t sound like an introvert.”

Well, I am. I am an introvert. I am not shy. I am not unopinionated. I, sure as hell, am not uninformed. I don’t lack confidence. But I am an introvert. I am very comfortable in public speaking. One-on-one conversations make my palms sweaty, and the prospect of initiating a small talk makes me faint. I hate phone calls. Please send me a message instead.

Growing up in a society that didn’t care for such psychological subtleties, I was branded shy as a child. Looking back, it was not shyness, just the discomfort with small talk that dominated most of the day-to-day conversations. And that still does! Half-jokingly (the joke was strictly half only, I think), I was also labeled a misanthrope from time to time by my super-social extended family.

Life outside the home, starting with hostel-life as a 10-year-old, could be a challenge initially, but ultimately I wasn’t shy. I was an introvert. Meaning, I can deal with, hey actually get comfortable with and have a meaningful relationship with, people I am familiar with. A close, known group. Of hostel-mates, batch-mates, and later co-workers. It just takes some time to reach there with every new group. That means that the first impression I give, and the lasting impression I leave, can be very different. Former can be shy and docile or aloof, the latter can be difficult or cool – depending on how things turned out between us.

When I didn’t understand introversion, I lived with a slightly odd notion about myself for a long time that “I was shy at home, but not so outside.” Because the “shy period” was usually limited in any new environment after which I found my people! The discomfort with salespeople in shops or elsewhere and some other day-to-day manifestations of introversion were not noticed or ascribed to personality quirks. (And my family always wondered at the public speaking skills of this shy child!)

But then, at some point of time, I understood the idea of introversion and extraversion. And also, the difference between shyness and introversion. Since then I have lived comfortably with the “introvert” label and used it to make sense of my behavior for myself.

And while I was aware that my introversion created problems in certain situations (networking events, my God! And I never aspired for a sales or business development job!), I hadn’t realized until recently that it is considered an active handicap in the western professional world, and hence now in Indian one too. The number of articles on the Internet trying to boost the confidence of introverts, giving them public speaking tips, and generally telling them how to be more like extroverts is astounding, baffling, and to be honest, a bit offending.

And then there is Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts… I haven’t read the book, but the fact that such a book exists, and it has taken the world by storm… Dear God! I didn’t know I was living in such an uninformed world.

But yeah – this one I was woefully uninformed on. It wasn’t just the members of my extended family who misunderstood introversion. Far too many people all around the world have a similar misunderstanding, so much so that introverts seem to need an Internet-wide defense!

In case someone needing a lesson (or needing to identify themselves as a perfectly normal introvert) lands here, here are a few things about me as an introvert.

  • Yes, I am comfortable in public speaking. I am not shy. I don’t lack confidence. I am not unopinionated. (Some introverts, and extroverts for that matter, can be one or more of these things. But simply being an introvert isn’t equivalent to any of these.) Since I don’t have any of these issues, there is nothing that stops me from being comfortable in public speaking. Not only comfortable, I am even good at public speaking, part of which is about using some advantages introversion brings to me (about that, see a later point), and part of which is just preparation, technique and some natural flair.
  • Every instance of talking as an introvert involves first asking a question – why does the other person need to hear this? There has to be a good reason. And dear God! Is that reason difficult to find? Small talk never passes the test. Public speaking is fine because the very arrangement that has resulted in the assignment has answered the question. So, are the conversations with a clear, pre-set agenda (the small talk before we come to the agenda? oof!). One-on-one conversations with the audience after public speaking is also fine. Because presumably they know who I am and they initiate the conversation (so they have a reason to hear what I say in reply), and the conversation would typically be related to what I spoke on (so the agenda is sorted).
  • Despite the difficulties I have in socialization, I don’t have a problem in understanding people. As an introvert, I am perfectly comfortable not being the talker in a group; I may indeed prefer not having to talk (see the previous point); I listen, and more importantly, I observe. So, I understand people. I understand them more than most gregarious people who won’t stop to listen and observe. It’s the reluctance to talk without a good reason that makes me appear unsocial. Not the inability to understand.
  • For people who are in need of being understood, I can be a great comfort. If I were a more shrewd person, I would be able to use this understanding to my immense benefit. But since I am not that, the usefulness of this understanding is limited. And sometimes it even becomes debilitating. I can sense disinterest very quickly, and very acutely. Makes me a very bad salesperson. At other times, since I understand a person very well, it becomes too difficult to keep the pretenses up in a conversation that depends on my not understanding them. Do you know what I mean? Makes for a very difficult social (and sometimes professional!) situation.
  • Coming back to public speaking, this understanding helps me be a good public speaker. I can think from the point of view of my audience. If my point of being on stage is to tell them what they want to know and hear, it is straightforward. But even if I am on the stage to tell them what I want them to know, I would be able to do everything possible to make it about them! As an introvert, it is easy (natural!) for me not to be consumed by my agenda, but to remain focussed on my audience. Yes – that’s my introversion benefit.
  • If I come across as someone whom you would like to prove wrong but aren’t able to, it isn’t because I pretend to know everything. It is usually because I keep my mouth shut on things I don’t know or understand. As mentioned several times earlier, as an introvert, I don’t have a compulsive need to talk. I am happy to remain quiet. So, when I don’t know things, I am perfectly fine listening to other people on such matters rather than giving cooked-on opinions. In a new and unfamiliar environment, I may not open my mouth even on things I know about. Same will be the case where it is likely to result in fierce arguments that I have no interest in winning or energy for continuing. I don’t derive much satisfaction from winning an argument. I will get into an argument, only if winning it is really needed for some other end important to me.

Finally, as an introvert, it is very difficult to talk so much about myself. 😂 It is only online or on social media that I can do that. Because if the other person doesn’t want to know this, they can totally ignore it. So – that question is sorted.

Photo by Ismail Hamzah on Unsplash

Own Poetry Hindi

चिंगारी

एक चिंगारी सुलगी तो थी
फिर बुझ गई।
 
कुछ भी जला नहीं,
कोई मरा नहीं।
 
बस किसी की जान
थोड़ी उलझ गई।
Photo by Paul Bulai on Unsplash