Archive for the ‘Building relationships’ category
I am at a bar in Amsterdam, sipping my fresh lime soda with a few friends whom I studied with. All Europeans.. who haven’t visited India ever and none in the technology business… and guess what? One of them pips up and says “Hey Elango! You work for an IT company in India right? I have a niece who works for an IT company…dah dah dah”. I make polite gestures, mentally prepared to jump over, knowing fully well that there is no way I would know his niece! Suddenly, he pulls out his iphone to show her picture, and guess what ! She works for us, and moreover, is somebody I had agreed to mentor! Wow!
Another Incident a while ago, I call the satellite TV call centre because we have been having some trouble with our satellite TV service. After going through some interminable rounds of calls .. I reach a call centre associate, and am a little peeved. Considering I work for a company that also does BPO work, I try my best to be polite but… the irritation can be heard. Unmindfully, the really cheerful associate asks for my name, telephone number and proceeds to ask for my complaint. I start listing my woes…the associate stops in my tracks, informing me his supervisor wants to talk to me. Now that is a first, I didn’t even ask for the supervisor, atleast not as yet! It turns out the supervisor used to work with me in my previous job. and wanted to say hello! I had a technician work on the issue in a couple of hours and a call a day later, to check if all is well. Wow again!
As if two such incidents in proximity would not have been sufficient, in yet another incident, An ex –colleague of mine recently called really upset that the company she was interviewing with had withdrawn the offer at the last minute. Since I had referred her, could I call and find out what happened? It turns out that in her younger days, my ex-colleague had quite a temper and would not think twice before throwing it around and one of her ex- colleagues now works in that company. This person had passed on a negative reference and the company withdrew their offer. Eventually we sorted it out, as I knew this person really well and knew they had matured with age!
Now these instances may seem like coincidences… but I am convinced they are not. We are all connected some way or the other, however remote. My belief is that all of us will somehow know somebody within six degrees of separation – which means, that everybody on this planet is only six connects away from each other . I haven’t tested this hypothesis, but the above incidents and similar stories I heard from others I narrated my experience to, leads me to believe there is some truth to this! Too hard to believe huh?
Now what does this mean to us and why on earth am I writing this on a blog? It just goes to show, if we wish to , everyone in the world is within our reach. Which means you can connect with anyone and influence many decisions and outcomes. You may just be receiver of largesse like the call centre Supervisor generously sent my way or you never know when the six degrees of separations will haunt you like my ex colleague realised! Popular networking sites thrive on this energy- you start with a handful of contacts and the next time you log in, you have that multiplied by 10. How does that work ? Someone knows someone who knows someone and so on. Why has this caught everyone’s attention? Because you get connected with people, where in the linear scheme of things, you wouldn’t even know they existed. How do you benefit? This boosts professional connects, networking opportunities and a number of invites for weekend parties, that no longer depend on which generation you belong to!
Suddenly, you realise how small the world is. Common interests come to the forefront, class mates re-surface and experts are a hand-stretch away. Why would you not make the most of it?
So here’s the challenge – can you find your 6 degrees of separation with Dr. Manmohan Singh? Angelina Jolie or Roger Federer? I just realised that I am only 1 degree away from Gary Kirsten and 2 degrees from Venus Williams – I am serious!
Do be nice to me and leave your comments, even if you disagree or you want to say that this is the most vague and nonsensical post ever! Any reaction is good because it helps bridge the gap between our six degrees of separation…
I met a bunch of classmates a few weeks ago. This wasn’t a regular, talk about old days. Instead my (rather grown up) buddies were whining about their spouses, bosses and comparing their current relationship, past status! Phew, here is a snapshot of what they said.
One was praising his assistant saying how she paid attention to every little need of his. She even got him warm water when he was coughing, his wife on the other hand wouldn’t even notice if he didn’t get home that night.
Another complained of her manager, of how he just didn’t give her attention! He rarely spoke with her. She wistfully reminisced in college, every lecturer spoke to her, paid special attention!
The litany continued.. my boss doesn’t even talk to me, my peers are terrible, ah that friend he has changed!
We all have moments like this, don’t we? We reach a point where we are dissatisfied with our relationships We get frustrated, we cant talk, we get deeper into our own trap. Eventually, trivial things become explosion points and relationships break irreparably.
Now, I didn’t want a chance reunion to result in some of my best friends sabotaging their relationships!
So my question to my friend with the perfect assistant was, “Hey! Didn’t you fall in love with your spouse because she was so independent and didn’t fuss over you like the others? What happened now? You appreciate your assistant for the same things that you hated in partners when you were dating!?”
To the self proclaimed college heroine, the question was, “Didn’t you take on this job for the very reason that your boss is hands off and very focussed? You liked the freedom and singular focus that he brought in!” and so on to the others.
The answers initially were simple, naïve, hurt, you don’t understand it man! … but the tide turned and we had a great conversation.
I have attempted to put together what I learnt that night as simple and crisp as I can!
We all change in life… Our needs change and we all change at different speeds. What we really liked in somebody when we started is not what we continue to cherish… At the outset, the relationship was exactly what we always wanted and something we’d want to nurture for life. However, the environment changes and soon we change. But our spouses, friends, team members bosses may not have moved the same path or even changed! That is the beginning of the downhill roll.
The trap – “Me , Myself and My wants”We are so caught up in ourselves, that our partners, colleagues, family haven’t the faintest clue that we have changed along the way. We get trapped in the “Me, Myself and My wants” trap.
Telling them is a good start. Helping them dealing with a new you is a good story for success! It is not easy and required a lot of tact and patience. If the relationship is important you will have to invest time and patience.
Now that is about getting others to deal with you. What about you, have you noticed if others needs have changed and resized your interactions?
Answer for most of us is No. We continue to treat people the way we treated them when we met. Leading to all the above whinging and moaning and sometimes walking away. But if we want to change we have to do what I call “Update to the next version”
Version 2.0 update
Let me give you a few examples of such an update.
I once worked for a well known manager. In his heyday, we pined for his attention. Once he moved on – things changed, new managers came in, I got busy… but we still talk. I still eagerly pick up the phone when he calls. If I don’t return calls, he doesn’t yell, but makes a joke of it! I am sure this relationship will endure, simply because this person has altered the relationship to reflect new reality! Moving from protégé to friend!
On the flip side, there is my first manager. A great leader – set me up for success, trained me on the basics… and actually taught me how to order at a restaurant. He insisted on ordering every time, even when we met recently. But my tastes had changed over the years. I stopped meeting him after 2 failed attempts to assert myself and landing up with food that I really didn’t appreciate!
A team member, who joined me as a trainee, wants now to be able to disagree with me… she is no longer in a learning mode and wants to be treated as an equal. I have to change my approach rather than accuse her of insubordination, or think she is too big for her boots. I have to update.
Parents move from being guardians to friends, spouses move from lover to parents and home managers, managers from boss to mentor, peer or even a team member… such transitions are many.
How often do we take time to re-size, re-communicate and re-invest in relationships? Not very often usually! But today is a good start… go on what are you waiting for – go update your relationship.
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