Jul 11, 2011

Stop Bitching, Start Living!

"Some people seem to go through life standing at the complaint counter
~Fred Propp Jr.

Complainers are like insect repellents! They create strong impression about themselves with people they talk to, and they are effective in doing their repelling job well! Psychologists say that's the biggest reason why people should change this behavior. Oh yes, there is no dearth of complainers around us, colleague bitching about the boss, neighbor whining about the weather, friend kvetching about the state of politics...expressing helplessness is a common tendency of ineffective people.

Dilbert on Complaining


Getting rid of learned helplessness and whining behavior can be quite liberating, empowering. And the good news is, it can be unlearned. Change is easier for some people than others because not all complainers are the same. I feel there are 3 types of complainers:

  1. Habitual Kvetchers suffer from existential angst perhaps - they are stuck in the ditch of their mindless complaining, unable to get out. It takes persistent effort can change themselves.
  2. Infected/secondary complainers - complaining is contagious yes, and these folks are like vampires and start their own rant once infected. They may be complaining to gain a common ground with their peers, to get closer to the others. They might be able to overcome this attitude quicker than Habitual Kvetchers.
  3. Genuine complainers: The folks have a genuine reason to complain but chances are they end up complaining to the wrong person, in a wrong manner at wrong place. 

How to Change?

  • Become aware: ask yourself: "Am I a complainer?" and be honest with your answer - if you are and your answer is "yes" you have just won half the battle!
  • Toll Gate: Next time you are about to complain, just stop yourself - try a joke instead or just don't say anything till you have something positive to say.
  • Recruit help: entrust a close friend or colleague to alert you when you start - in a subtle way (by blinking at you for instance!)
  • Record & Reward: keep a log of your attempts to complain, successes and failures. Reward yourself as you succeed.

Got to Complain?

When you NEED to complain, complain by all means, but make it legitimate. Here is how:

  • make sure you are complaining to the right person
  • don't blame briefly describe what happened 
  • how that effects you and 
  • what exactly you want as a possible solution to the problem (don't complain if she has a different solution)
  • focus on the problem not people

If you are in the company of a complainer, anticipate situations and subtly avoid those situations. Try helping complainers, most of all, don't get influenced into complaining yourself.

What do you think? Sound it off! click 'reactions' (below)

Jul 2, 2011

Where is Your Map?

I published this blog at goodblogs - terms prevent me from publishing it again here. Please check it out: Where is Your Map?

Please post your comments and views.

Jun 27, 2011

"Yes Customer, Have Your Cake!"

Saying “Yes!” to all that customers ask is not a viable customer retention tool!

If you want your customers satisfied, tossing a quick “yes” or habitually agreeing to deliver whatever is definitely not an appropriate response - if this is routine and habitual to you and your team, your customer might start doubting your credibility. If you are serious about delivering on your promise, remember that diligence is prudence!

Take time and assess:
  • if customer needs fit into your and their strategic goals and
  • if what is asked solves real needs
...and then say “yes” (or “no” if necessary). 

This might seem either counter intuitive (culture of collectivism) or an obvious thing (culture of individualism) depending on where you are from. However if customer satisfaction is important to you, actually delivering on promise matters more than giving an impression that you can! 

Many employees of Indian IT services companies are prone to say “yes” when they are supposed not to - this behavior has its roots in culture of collectivism - where disagreeing and responding in negative is seen as disrespect and disloyalty and hence is avoided.

Affected firms should invest in mandatory behavior training (not just cultural orientation) to help employees cope with such habitual behaviors and responses with roots in their culture to help employee get into customers’ shoes.

(Embedded Dilbert strip is my mashup - copyrights owned by Scott Adams)

Jun 17, 2011

Death with Detail

There is devil in detail! Details tempt people to look away from their goals and purpose and get carried away in filtering, slicing and dicing data endlessly.

This preoccupation with detail is next only to our desire for riches. Whatever the position in hierarchy, senior, middle, junior, day in day out are busy on obtaining and making sense of details without which most of them cannot do their jobs. Detail of operations, projects, business and so on. Phone calls, emails, meetings costing countless dollars and hours of effort are spent on obtaining details that might not really help.

Sure, details give a sense of control and focus, they give comfort of knowledge, feeling of being hands on and a reassuring sense of  control. But details need more detail to understand and more and more detail to explain and make sense of and soon, we are lost in them. Details matter less than the purpose, goals, objectives.

Details shield us from focusing on goals, purpose and objectives of the mission on hand. details destroy our sense of direction.  With excessive details, 'means' start to matter more than the ends. When purpose is ignored, thoughts drift, actions chase themselves in a futile pursuit.
With no big picture, no map in hand, we loose our way, it might sound counter intuitive, but we don’t actually loose our way not without detail, but the other way round. What you need to find direction and reach your destination is a compass and a map, not the details of how exactly the next turn looks like...for instance.


If it were not for the detail, meetings will be shorter, there will be lesser confrontations, more harmony for individuals with their surroundings, others and within themselves.

How do we know if we are lost in details?

Ask yourself why you need the data/detail in the first place? What conclusions does it help you make, what insights it is expected to give. If the answer doesn't relate to your mission goals, you are lost in details for sure.

If you are not sure why you are doing the next level of drill down, just don’t dig further - perhaps you already have data you need.

What are your thoughts?

May 26, 2011

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Simple questions are potent. They carry power to strike at the root of our assumptions; simpler a question, better the insight, a good answer can give.

Here are my questions to you: 
  • "Are you sweating the small stuff?" 
  • "Yes/No?" 
  • "How do you know either way for sure?"

Do this simple exercise to find answers. List out all the stuff you and your team sweats on and place them on the quadrant (below). 

Something that scores higher on y-axis does more of championing, sponsoring, defining, deciding, course correction and less of routine transactions. 

Business integration (y-axis) is easy to tell: ‘does it help get money in':higher if 'yes'.

(Just like many things in life, it is not yes or no or black or white exercise. Use your judgment to place activities at  places they truly deserve.)

Ask yourself or your team, “Why we do xxx activity?” for each of the activities on the list...