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THINK LEVEL FOUR

BUILDING SUCCESS HABITS WORTH KEEPING

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So What If You Are the Boss ?

May 1, 2017

Boss_is_not_rightWe often see TV commercials where doctors and scientists dressed in their spotless white lab coats induce fear and persuade us to go for their recommended product. One that promises to wipe out germs from the face of the earth and your gums. Influence by authority might work for a toothpaste or antiseptic cream commercial, but using authority to get a buy-in from your team might not meet with the desired results all the time. I fully understand and appreciate that there are many instances where a boss might need to exercise authority to get work done. However, this needs to be an exception and not the norm.

An oft-repeated joke that I recall is about a boss who puts across his suggestion to a hapless team member stating” It’s just a suggestion, but remember who made it”. Having the freedom to air your views and take part in decision-making is every employee’s dream come true. When your boss tells you to put your head down and do what you are told, are you motivated enough to give your best? I doubt that.

Typical excuses that I hear from managers in organizational training include “but our industry is different”, “none of my team members have the required experience”,” we operate on a tight schedule “etc. Some bosses secretly fear of anarchy on their hands when they have to engage in collaborative decision making.

The fact of the matter is, human beings are probably the only creatures on earth driven by reason. When we hold back that reason and push our authority to get work done our way, we become less human. The boss may not always be right after all.

By Midhun Manmadhan

Does Money Motivate ?

January 23, 2017

money_and_motivation

Just as I was settling down with my morning coffee on a cold December morning,out popped a headline from the front page of my newspaper.  “Bring Nobel ,take home Rs 100 Crore : N Chandrababu Naidu.”  A sum that was 17 times more than the prize money given out with the Nobel award and a proclamation that would have made Jeremy Bentham proud.Jeremy Bentham’s theory of motivation centred around man’s desire to avoid pain and seek pleasure( read money bonus and incentives). The carrot and stick theory of motivation, developed in the early years of the industrial revolution, propounded that any worker will work if the reward is big enough or the punishment sufficiently unpleasant.

This would put human beings alongside any donkey which keeps reaching for the carrot (100cr) while being careful not to slow down for fear of getting whipped by the stick. Fortunately for AP scientists there is no stick. However, North Korean athletes did not have it so good. According to the Korea Times, the North Korean Olympic team was given a strict medal target and those who failed could be punished by being moved to poor quality housing, having their rations reduced and, in the worst case scenario, being sent to the coal mines as punishment. Those who won medals would be rewarded with better housing,car and other gifts from the regime.

No prizes for guessing whether that worked. North Korea’s 31 athletes competed in 9 events and won just 2 gold medals,3 silvers and two bronzes. 

Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics at Duke University, has shared the relationship of money and motivation through several of his books and articles. Ariely says using money to motivate people can be a double-edged sword. Low to moderate performance-based incentives can help for tasks that require cognitive ability. However when the incentive level is way too high,100 Cr in this case, it can command too much attention and thereby distract the person’s mind with thoughts about the reward. This may ultimately lead to stress and culminate in poor performance.

Alfie Kohn, author of Punished by Rewards, shares the same observation: that rewards kill instrinsic motivation and creativity. Kohn states that close to twenty research studies “show that people do inferior work when they are expecting to get a reward for it.”

Scientists work for a calling: A mission and purpose that drives them despite hardships for reaching their goals. Marie Curie aka Madame Curie, the first and the only woman to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences worked twelve to fourteen hours a day. “She lived an almost monastic lifestyle in her early years in Paris,surviving on nothing but buttered bread and tea which left her anaemic and regularly fainting from hunger,” writes Roam Krznaric in “How to find fulfilling work.” Her work gave her meaning and purpose and she was driven by her passion for science.

Would she have been motivated by the 100 Cr prize money ? No prizes for guessing!

The Other HAF of Leadership: Humility, Acceptance and Forgiveness

October 11, 2016

Can_you_change

Our relentless pursuit towards perfection and excellence tends to blind us from cultivating traits that help us become resilient in the event of failures. What might be those factors that help us adopt a positive attitude and sustain equanimity when the going gets tough ?

Humility – What do you feel when you meet an accomplished person who radiates humility? I’m positive that ‘threatened’ is the last word that comes to your mind. You would probably feel relaxed, at ease and interested in what the other person has to speak.

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less” was what C.S Lewis, one of the most intellectual giants of the 20th century, had to say about being humble. We needn’t shy away from feeling proud about our accomplishments. However, spare a thought for others who are a part of your team or organisation. It is also about creating that space for others to contribute. Who wants to hang around people who only keep talking about their ‘board room victories’ all the time?

A HBR article titled The Best Leaders Are Humble Leaderscites a study that backs up humility as one of the four critical factors of inclusive leadership. When leaders share the mistakes they have made in their journey, it creates an environment of trust among others.

Acceptance – "The ideal man bears the accident of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances."- apt words from Aristotle for some of us who refuse to accept defeats and learn to move on.  How can I accept my mistakes? What will others think of me? Shouldn’t I be that 'perfect self' that my life script has taught me to be?

Wearing a mask that projects strength without experiencing and expressing negative emotions in a healthy way can lead to serious health conditions over a period of time. Living a life of denial gets you nowhere, neither at work nor in your personal lives. It in fact reduces your self-confidence as you keep continuing to feel a sense of dissonance deep inside. An antidote to this dissonance is to have the humility to accept the fact that you cannot be perfect in everything all the time. It is OK to be wrong and to fail as long as you learn from your experiences. Practice acceptance of yourself and others without being too demanding.

Forgiveness – Think of a recent grudge that you had with someone. What do you feel? Now, keeping aspects of humility and acceptance in mind try releasing that feeling of grudge. The more you practice humility and acceptance of yourself and others without judging them, the easier it becomes to forgive. 

David K Williams, CEO of Fishbowl in a Forbes article titled ‘Forgiveness : The Least Understood Leadership Trait In The Workplace’ articulates how forgiveness is practiced at his company Fishbowl, which his bio states is a culmination of everything he has learned over his 30 plus years in business.  David believes that one of the reasons people stay at his company is that “ they know that when they make mistakes, we will help them overcome and learn new skills to avoid making the same mistake again.”

GGSC (University of California, Berkeley) in their amazing program ‘The Science of Happiness’ talks about true forgiveness-  Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciling or absolving the ‘offender’ of his responsibility. True forgiveness means accepting that a mistake has been made, reducing the urge to punish or seek vengeance and an increased compassion towards the offender for their own suffering.

These traits are not just for leaders though. They augur well for the rest of us who keep continuing to persevere and march forward in the journey of life. 

Why are so many people unhappy at work ?

August 31, 2016

unhappy_at_work87% of employees are unhappy and disengaged at work according to a recent survey conducted by Gallup, the global performance management and consulting company. I have no reason to doubt the survey results as the vast majority of employees that I interact with, in the course of my work as a learning consultant are unhappy with their work and the workplace environment. Mind you, this includes people at all levels in the organisation right up to department heads. This led me to dig deeper and explore plausible explanations for disengagement and unhappiness at work.

Lack of trust – Nearly one in three employees do not trust their employer as per the Edelman Global Trust Barometer Survey 2016. What exactly do we mean by trust here? In very simple terms, trust ‘is the willingness to be vulnerable to the action of others’. Trust signals confidence in others. When your organisation or supervisor trusts you to do the work assigned instead of hovering around micromanaging, you commitment levels rise up to ensure that the work is done no matter what.When the default climate in an organisation is one which considers employees as lazy job shirkers who need to be monitored closely, where is the scope for trust to exist? In the wake of Merissa Mayer of yahoo wanting employees to work in the office, there was much debate on whether she trusted her employees. Here is what Richard Branson founder of Virgin Group had to say about it "We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they are at their desk or in their kitchen.Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will."

A strong feeling of being considered as means to an end – A cog in the wheel is the closest metaphor that describes the feeling of insignificance employees experience at large organisations. There is a strong feeling that you as an individual do not matter. It’s the brand, the product, the customer loyalty that is more important to some organisations. A young, enterprising employee narrated how his manager once warned him - “Have a problem? Feel free to leave; I can get ten others like you to work here.” One doesn’t need a class in Kantian ethics to understand that people cannot be treated as means to an end. Their freedom needs to be respected. The mere usage of words such as head count, workforce, human resources all point to our tendency to club people along with machines
that dish out products. A resource by definition is a source or supply from which benefit is produced and in the process may be consumed or made unavailable. No wonder why people feel sapped out of their life energy at the fag end of their careers. How could we then motivate employees? Helping employees in aligning their values to those of the organisation, acknowledging their efforts and giving their work more meaning and purpose would go a long way in motivating them.

Perception of low autonomy and freedom – “Freedom is not worth having, if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” This quote from Mahatma Gandhi sums up the state of affairs in organisations that pay platitudes to words like empowerment but do not give the freedom to experiment and fail. This takes us back to our earlier observation about lack of trust. Where there is lack of trust, there are strict controls. For creativity and innovation to flourish, we need autonomy.Employees must be trusted to self-direct themselves and achieve goals. Study after study has shown that autonomy is a key factor that keeps employees intrinsically motivated to perform well and be happier at work. Companies like Google, Semco,Zappos, Morning Star, Atlassian, Whole Foods all work on the presumption of hiring the best people and leaving them free to do their jobs. 

More and more millennials are choosing to join organisations that allow for autonomy, help them attain mastery and align their values to a higher purpose. Organisations that put up with managers and a climate that discourages trust, looks at people as mere resources and need entries to be made on time sheets for loo breaks would be part of history in the near future.

By Midhun Manmadhan

6 Reasons why we don't translate knowledge to action - Part B

August 25, 2016

In my last blog post , I elaborated 3 out of 6 reasons why we don't translate knowledge into action. The remaining three are as follows:

  • Bookish knowledge does not work in real life
  • I'm too busy and there is simply no time
  • Where's my immediate pay off ?

4.Bookish knowledge does not work in real life - As one endures the hardships at work and starts experiencing the realities of what works and doesn't at the workplace, one forms strong beliefs rooted in previous experience. Soon , employees feel less inclined to try out new initiatives. Somehow there is a feeling of hopelessness that gets translated to protecting the current status quo. Where does knowledge written in the book come from ? They come from real life and most are based on emperical evidence. But we are so caught up in fire fighting on a day to day basis that we seldom have the mind space to even consider alternate ways of doing things.

5.I'm too busy and there is simply no time - Activity does not equal productivity. As Thoreau once said " It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants.The question is : What are we busy about ?" Are we aligning what we do on a day to day basis with the larger goals of our team,department and organisation ? Can I add value by translating new knowledge into actions at work ? Am I willing to pause and spend some time to think through new knowledge ?

6.Where's my immediate pay off ? - Our impulsive brain is always looking for an immediate pay-off.  Delayed gratifcation is not something that is the default mode for our evolutionary brain. The pleasure of an instant reward is far greater and difficult to resist than waiting patiently for rewards for a longer duration of time. This is true even when the rewards are much greater later. Behavior change takes time. It is non-linear. There are high chances of relapse to occur especially under stress. All this shouldn't dissuade you to harness the power of choice that human beings are gifted with in order to make a difference to their lives and those of others. Accept and be ready to stick through the course of time that it takes to master a new skill.

6 Reasons why we don't translate knowledge to action

August 15, 2016

Knowledge_to_actionAnyone who has attended a training session on resolving conflicts at work will vouch for the importance of active listening. Yet when it comes to practicing what we learn, all hell breaks loose -  “To hell with active listening, I’ll show him who’s the boss around here !”

Why do we find it so hard to practice what we learn ? In other words, why is there such a huge gap between knowledge and action ?

B=f(P,E)

Behavior(B) is a function of the person(P) and the environment(E) as proposed by Kurt Lewin, a German-American psychologist who was one of the modern pioneers of organizational psychology. So there are factors both within (P) and also outside(E) that determine people behavior. Since the external environment to a good extent is not in our direct control, let’s have a look at beliefs that are within us that create the knowing Vs doing gap.  

  1. I’ve always done it this way
  2. Everyone does it the old way so why can’t I ?
  3. What If I fail ?
  4. Bookish knowledge doesn’t work in real life
  5. I’m too busy and there is simply no time
  6. Where’s my immediate pay-off ?

1. I’ve always done it this way – When we fall into a certain pattern of behavior , it can be daunting  for our brain to re-wire itself and form new patterns of behavior. In an already over-stressed work environment, the last thing people want is to take the extra effort to change existing habits. This doesn’t matter even if the habit has not yielded many gains. Admonishing others publicly is a habit for certain supervisors. They have a strong belief that it sets an example for others and it also acts as a deterrent for the employee not to make mistakes again. A supervisor, who has this belief system, looks for evidence that confirms his belief and he conveniently ignores instances where this technique of feedback has backfired. Ask yourself, what if I did things differently ? What’s the worst that could happen ?  

2.Everyone does it the old way so why can’t I ? –  ‘Ad populum’ or appeal to common practice. The fallacy of arguing that because everyone does something, it must be all right for me to do so as well. Whether something is right or wrong cannot be judged by a vote of hands. Millions of Germans supported Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. I rest this case with one more argument. The whole world believed that the earth was flat until the 17th century.

3.What If I fail ? – We live in a society where failure of any type is frowned upon. In Being Wrong – Adventures in the margin of error',  author Kathryn Schulz  mentions  Thomas Aquinas, the medieval monk, for whom “error was not merely abhorrent but also abnormal, a perversion of the prescribed order of things.”  'Be perfect' is a life script that’s imprinted in our minds since our childhood days. It takes a considerable amount of grit, perseverance and determination to overcome fear of failure and embrace the uncertainty that is associated with trying something new. “Many a false step was made by standing still” wrote Tim Ferris  in his book 'The 4 hour workweek'. The consequences of inaction can be disastrous at times. Take that step knowing fully well that you are not infallible and learn from your mistakes.

Watch out for Part 2 of the blog post which outlines the other three remaining beliefs that prevent us from translating knowledge to action.

By Midhun Manmadhan

How To Overcome Your Monday Morning Blues

August 7, 2016

monday_morning_blues

As you might have noticed, your Monday morning blues don’t actually start on a Monday morning. It starts building momentum just as the sun begins to set on our happiest day of the week-Sunday. The gnawing reality of waking up to yet another gruelling week at the office makes us feel the blues.

So what can we do to minimize the feeling of sadness and be more charged up on a Monday ?

Reach office early – Reaching office early has multiple benefits.  You can beat peak hour traffic which tends to be higher on Monday and be more relaxed as you enter your office. Chances are, you might be the only person around apart from the security and the housekeeping staff. This gives you a crucial window of opportunity to calmly focus and plan your day.

Prepare a 'To-Do List' for the day – David Rock in his book Your Brain At Work talks about the need to grab a piece of paper and write down your tasks for the day. This leaves you brain to do more important stuff such as prioritizing and making decisions rather than trying to store information.  Some tasks performed by your brain eat up more energy than others. When energy is limited, you want to save it for the more important tasks right?

Avoid negative talk – There is no need to get into a competitive conversation on who had the worst weekend.  “ I was doing a chauffeur’s  job ferrying my relatives up and down for our family function “. “ Oh at least you got to drive around town. I was down and out with a bad bout of cold and all I did was inhaling steam all day.”  It’s natural to feel bad when we lose out on what we love to do on our weekends. However, this kind of negative talk does nothing other than over-amplifying our misery.

It’s OK to smile on a Monday morning –  Many of us have lost our inherent ability to smile despite having a pleasant disposition, lest the boss thinks we have no work around the office. Well, what if you are the boss? Does it hurt to smile? Emotions are contagious. There is evidence of body language mirroring. We tend to mirror the expressions of others. A recent study cited in Psychology Today mentions a research done at University of Missouri- Kansas City(UMKC) in which researchers discovered that smiling can make you look younger and also thinner. I could do with both.

How do you wish to start your Monday morning ?

By Midhun Manmadhan

 

The Problem With Being Too Busy

August 1, 2016

Alan Watts quote

Many of us tend to live a harried life. Monday to Friday cursing the drudgery at work and binge holidaying during the weekends. 
We are on an auto-pilot mode, repeating our actions like programmed machines. 

Alan Watts, the British philosopher better known for his attempt at popularizing Eastern philosophy for the Western audience categorically states the importance of living for the present and being mindful.

Another interesting author Greg McKeown in his recent book  'Essentialism,The Disciplined Pursuit of Less' asks "What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance ?" A worthy question indeed. We often love to tell others how busy and hectic our days have been. But of what good is it, when we do not have the time to reflect on our actions and re-calibrate our decisions ?

Too much worry about the future can tire us down from experiencing the beauty of  this present moment.

Let us not obsess about the future. A healthy concern helps. Obsession wears you down. The present moment is all that is there in your control. Are you willing to make the most of it ? - By Midhun Manmadhan

7 Ways to Overcome Your Phobia of Public Speaking

May 30, 2016

 

By Midhun Manmadhan ( As answered on Quora )


The best way to overcome phobia is being exposed to what you fear, first in a safe and supportive environment and then slowly graduating to more ‘risky’ situations.

  • Start by planning and preparing your speech ( Keep it short and simple )
  • Practice your speech in front of friends and ask for feedback(both positive as well as negative)
  • Don’t mug up your speech. Chances are , you will forget what you mugged up. Focus your mind of just the key points. Write those points in small cue cards and glance at them ONLY if required.
  • As you learn from feedback, keep taking every opportunity to address people. It could be a small meeting at work or informal gatherings. The more you attempt at getting yourself exposed to such situations, the quicker your phobia will disappear.
  • Do not obsess about looking perfect or being perfect all the time. None of us are. We are all Work In Progress (WIP).
  • There are worse things that could happen in life than getting booed out when you are making your speech. Look at rejections as being temporary.
  • Last but not the least, celebrate every single success of yours at public speaking, however small it may seem to you.

All the best !

 

How to appear confident

May 26, 2016

The biggest challenge most of us face when facing an audience is frayed nerves. The moment we get up and face people, our mind is filled up with all kind of thoughts. "Is the audience judging me ?", " What if I forget the talk ?", "Do I look presentable ?" etc.

It is quite normal to feel stressed under such circumstances. However, we do not have the luxury of time to rationalize our thoughts and get our head to think straight when we have so many people waiting to hear our talk.

What do we do under such circumstances ?

Running away is surely not an option. The quickest and easiest way out of this would be to desist from thinking and judging for a moment and focus on action. Your actions have the power to change your thoughts.

  1. Look up at the audience , establish and maintain eye contact
  2. Speak up in an audible and firm tone of voice

These two actions are sure to get the attention of your audience and make them sit up and notice your talk.

Why does this work ?

You don't look away when someone is looking at you. You can get your audience to engage with you by maintaining eye contact. When you speak loud and clear, and project your voice, it demands the attention of the audience. They would surely sense conviction and confidence in your tone.

So the next time you have a public speaking engagement or even an office meeting, don't forget these two tips. You'll be surprised at the results that you get !

If you'd like to learn more, do join us at our soft skills training workshops in hyderabad.

 

 

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Are you too self conscious ?

Read Midhun Manmadhan's answer to

How do I get over self consciousness? I get way too conscious every time that my body language gets weird.

on Quora

So What If You Are the Boss ?

May 1, 2017

Boss_is_not_rightWe often see TV commercials where doctors and scientists dressed in their spotless white lab coats induce fear and persuade us to go for their recommended product. One that promises to wipe out germs from the face of the earth and your gums. Influence by authority might work for a toothpaste or antiseptic cream commercial, but using authority to get a buy-in from your team might not meet with the desired results all the time. I fully understand and appreciate that there are many instances where a boss might need to exercise authority to get work done. However, this needs to be an exception and not the norm.

An oft-repeated joke that I recall is about a boss who puts across his suggestion to a hapless team member stating” It’s just a suggestion, but remember who made it”. Having the freedom to air your views and take part in decision-making is every employee’s dream come true. When your boss tells you to put your head down and do what you are told, are you motivated enough to give your best? I doubt that.

Typical excuses that I hear from managers in organizational training include “but our industry is different”, “none of my team members have the required experience”,” we operate on a tight schedule “etc. Some bosses secretly fear of anarchy on their hands when they have to engage in collaborative decision making.

The fact of the matter is, human beings are probably the only creatures on earth driven by reason. When we hold back that reason and push our authority to get work done our way, we become less human. The boss may not always be right after all.

By Midhun Manmadhan

Does Money Motivate ?

January 23, 2017

money_and_motivation

Just as I was settling down with my morning coffee on a cold December morning,out popped a headline from the front page of my newspaper.  “Bring Nobel ,take home Rs 100 Crore : N Chandrababu Naidu.”  A sum that was 17 times more than the prize money given out with the Nobel award and a proclamation that would have made Jeremy Bentham proud.Jeremy Bentham’s theory of motivation centred around man’s desire to avoid pain and seek pleasure( read money bonus and incentives). The carrot and stick theory of motivation, developed in the early years of the industrial revolution, propounded that any worker will work if the reward is big enough or the punishment sufficiently unpleasant.

This would put human beings alongside any donkey which keeps reaching for the carrot (100cr) while being careful not to slow down for fear of getting whipped by the stick. Fortunately for AP scientists there is no stick. However, North Korean athletes did not have it so good. According to the Korea Times, the North Korean Olympic team was given a strict medal target and those who failed could be punished by being moved to poor quality housing, having their rations reduced and, in the worst case scenario, being sent to the coal mines as punishment. Those who won medals would be rewarded with better housing,car and other gifts from the regime.

No prizes for guessing whether that worked. North Korea’s 31 athletes competed in 9 events and won just 2 gold medals,3 silvers and two bronzes. 

Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics at Duke University, has shared the relationship of money and motivation through several of his books and articles. Ariely says using money to motivate people can be a double-edged sword. Low to moderate performance-based incentives can help for tasks that require cognitive ability. However when the incentive level is way too high,100 Cr in this case, it can command too much attention and thereby distract the person’s mind with thoughts about the reward. This may ultimately lead to stress and culminate in poor performance.

Alfie Kohn, author of Punished by Rewards, shares the same observation: that rewards kill instrinsic motivation and creativity. Kohn states that close to twenty research studies “show that people do inferior work when they are expecting to get a reward for it.”

Scientists work for a calling: A mission and purpose that drives them despite hardships for reaching their goals. Marie Curie aka Madame Curie, the first and the only woman to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences worked twelve to fourteen hours a day. “She lived an almost monastic lifestyle in her early years in Paris,surviving on nothing but buttered bread and tea which left her anaemic and regularly fainting from hunger,” writes Roam Krznaric in “How to find fulfilling work.” Her work gave her meaning and purpose and she was driven by her passion for science.

Would she have been motivated by the 100 Cr prize money ? No prizes for guessing!

The Other HAF of Leadership: Humility, Acceptance and Forgiveness

October 11, 2016

Can_you_change

Our relentless pursuit towards perfection and excellence tends to blind us from cultivating traits that help us become resilient in the event of failures. What might be those factors that help us adopt a positive attitude and sustain equanimity when the going gets tough ?

Humility – What do you feel when you meet an accomplished person who radiates humility? I’m positive that ‘threatened’ is the last word that comes to your mind. You would probably feel relaxed, at ease and interested in what the other person has to speak.

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less” was what C.S Lewis, one of the most intellectual giants of the 20th century, had to say about being humble. We needn’t shy away from feeling proud about our accomplishments. However, spare a thought for others who are a part of your team or organisation. It is also about creating that space for others to contribute. Who wants to hang around people who only keep talking about their ‘board room victories’ all the time?

A HBR article titled The Best Leaders Are Humble Leaderscites a study that backs up humility as one of the four critical factors of inclusive leadership. When leaders share the mistakes they have made in their journey, it creates an environment of trust among others.

Acceptance – "The ideal man bears the accident of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances."- apt words from Aristotle for some of us who refuse to accept defeats and learn to move on.  How can I accept my mistakes? What will others think of me? Shouldn’t I be that 'perfect self' that my life script has taught me to be?

Wearing a mask that projects strength without experiencing and expressing negative emotions in a healthy way can lead to serious health conditions over a period of time. Living a life of denial gets you nowhere, neither at work nor in your personal lives. It in fact reduces your self-confidence as you keep continuing to feel a sense of dissonance deep inside. An antidote to this dissonance is to have the humility to accept the fact that you cannot be perfect in everything all the time. It is OK to be wrong and to fail as long as you learn from your experiences. Practice acceptance of yourself and others without being too demanding.

Forgiveness – Think of a recent grudge that you had with someone. What do you feel? Now, keeping aspects of humility and acceptance in mind try releasing that feeling of grudge. The more you practice humility and acceptance of yourself and others without judging them, the easier it becomes to forgive. 

David K Williams, CEO of Fishbowl in a Forbes article titled ‘Forgiveness : The Least Understood Leadership Trait In The Workplace’ articulates how forgiveness is practiced at his company Fishbowl, which his bio states is a culmination of everything he has learned over his 30 plus years in business.  David believes that one of the reasons people stay at his company is that “ they know that when they make mistakes, we will help them overcome and learn new skills to avoid making the same mistake again.”

GGSC (University of California, Berkeley) in their amazing program ‘The Science of Happiness’ talks about true forgiveness-  Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciling or absolving the ‘offender’ of his responsibility. True forgiveness means accepting that a mistake has been made, reducing the urge to punish or seek vengeance and an increased compassion towards the offender for their own suffering.

These traits are not just for leaders though. They augur well for the rest of us who keep continuing to persevere and march forward in the journey of life. 

Why are so many people unhappy at work ?

August 31, 2016

unhappy_at_work87% of employees are unhappy and disengaged at work according to a recent survey conducted by Gallup, the global performance management and consulting company. I have no reason to doubt the survey results as the vast majority of employees that I interact with, in the course of my work as a learning consultant are unhappy with their work and the workplace environment. Mind you, this includes people at all levels in the organisation right up to department heads. This led me to dig deeper and explore plausible explanations for disengagement and unhappiness at work.

Lack of trust – Nearly one in three employees do not trust their employer as per the Edelman Global Trust Barometer Survey 2016. What exactly do we mean by trust here? In very simple terms, trust ‘is the willingness to be vulnerable to the action of others’. Trust signals confidence in others. When your organisation or supervisor trusts you to do the work assigned instead of hovering around micromanaging, you commitment levels rise up to ensure that the work is done no matter what.When the default climate in an organisation is one which considers employees as lazy job shirkers who need to be monitored closely, where is the scope for trust to exist? In the wake of Merissa Mayer of yahoo wanting employees to work in the office, there was much debate on whether she trusted her employees. Here is what Richard Branson founder of Virgin Group had to say about it "We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they are at their desk or in their kitchen.Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will."

A strong feeling of being considered as means to an end – A cog in the wheel is the closest metaphor that describes the feeling of insignificance employees experience at large organisations. There is a strong feeling that you as an individual do not matter. It’s the brand, the product, the customer loyalty that is more important to some organisations. A young, enterprising employee narrated how his manager once warned him - “Have a problem? Feel free to leave; I can get ten others like you to work here.” One doesn’t need a class in Kantian ethics to understand that people cannot be treated as means to an end. Their freedom needs to be respected. The mere usage of words such as head count, workforce, human resources all point to our tendency to club people along with machines
that dish out products. A resource by definition is a source or supply from which benefit is produced and in the process may be consumed or made unavailable. No wonder why people feel sapped out of their life energy at the fag end of their careers. How could we then motivate employees? Helping employees in aligning their values to those of the organisation, acknowledging their efforts and giving their work more meaning and purpose would go a long way in motivating them.

Perception of low autonomy and freedom – “Freedom is not worth having, if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” This quote from Mahatma Gandhi sums up the state of affairs in organisations that pay platitudes to words like empowerment but do not give the freedom to experiment and fail. This takes us back to our earlier observation about lack of trust. Where there is lack of trust, there are strict controls. For creativity and innovation to flourish, we need autonomy.Employees must be trusted to self-direct themselves and achieve goals. Study after study has shown that autonomy is a key factor that keeps employees intrinsically motivated to perform well and be happier at work. Companies like Google, Semco,Zappos, Morning Star, Atlassian, Whole Foods all work on the presumption of hiring the best people and leaving them free to do their jobs. 

More and more millennials are choosing to join organisations that allow for autonomy, help them attain mastery and align their values to a higher purpose. Organisations that put up with managers and a climate that discourages trust, looks at people as mere resources and need entries to be made on time sheets for loo breaks would be part of history in the near future.

By Midhun Manmadhan

6 Reasons why we don't translate knowledge to action - Part B

August 25, 2016

In my last blog post , I elaborated 3 out of 6 reasons why we don't translate knowledge into action. The remaining three are as follows:

  • Bookish knowledge does not work in real life
  • I'm too busy and there is simply no time
  • Where's my immediate pay off ?

4.Bookish knowledge does not work in real life - As one endures the hardships at work and starts experiencing the realities of what works and doesn't at the workplace, one forms strong beliefs rooted in previous experience. Soon , employees feel less inclined to try out new initiatives. Somehow there is a feeling of hopelessness that gets translated to protecting the current status quo. Where does knowledge written in the book come from ? They come from real life and most are based on emperical evidence. But we are so caught up in fire fighting on a day to day basis that we seldom have the mind space to even consider alternate ways of doing things.

5.I'm too busy and there is simply no time - Activity does not equal productivity. As Thoreau once said " It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants.The question is : What are we busy about ?" Are we aligning what we do on a day to day basis with the larger goals of our team,department and organisation ? Can I add value by translating new knowledge into actions at work ? Am I willing to pause and spend some time to think through new knowledge ?

6.Where's my immediate pay off ? - Our impulsive brain is always looking for an immediate pay-off.  Delayed gratifcation is not something that is the default mode for our evolutionary brain. The pleasure of an instant reward is far greater and difficult to resist than waiting patiently for rewards for a longer duration of time. This is true even when the rewards are much greater later. Behavior change takes time. It is non-linear. There are high chances of relapse to occur especially under stress. All this shouldn't dissuade you to harness the power of choice that human beings are gifted with in order to make a difference to their lives and those of others. Accept and be ready to stick through the course of time that it takes to master a new skill.

6 Reasons why we don't translate knowledge to action

August 15, 2016

Knowledge_to_actionAnyone who has attended a training session on resolving conflicts at work will vouch for the importance of active listening. Yet when it comes to practicing what we learn, all hell breaks loose -  “To hell with active listening, I’ll show him who’s the boss around here !”

Why do we find it so hard to practice what we learn ? In other words, why is there such a huge gap between knowledge and action ?

B=f(P,E)

Behavior(B) is a function of the person(P) and the environment(E) as proposed by Kurt Lewin, a German-American psychologist who was one of the modern pioneers of organizational psychology. So there are factors both within (P) and also outside(E) that determine people behavior. Since the external environment to a good extent is not in our direct control, let’s have a look at beliefs that are within us that create the knowing Vs doing gap.  

  1. I’ve always done it this way
  2. Everyone does it the old way so why can’t I ?
  3. What If I fail ?
  4. Bookish knowledge doesn’t work in real life
  5. I’m too busy and there is simply no time
  6. Where’s my immediate pay-off ?

1. I’ve always done it this way – When we fall into a certain pattern of behavior , it can be daunting  for our brain to re-wire itself and form new patterns of behavior. In an already over-stressed work environment, the last thing people want is to take the extra effort to change existing habits. This doesn’t matter even if the habit has not yielded many gains. Admonishing others publicly is a habit for certain supervisors. They have a strong belief that it sets an example for others and it also acts as a deterrent for the employee not to make mistakes again. A supervisor, who has this belief system, looks for evidence that confirms his belief and he conveniently ignores instances where this technique of feedback has backfired. Ask yourself, what if I did things differently ? What’s the worst that could happen ?  

2.Everyone does it the old way so why can’t I ? –  ‘Ad populum’ or appeal to common practice. The fallacy of arguing that because everyone does something, it must be all right for me to do so as well. Whether something is right or wrong cannot be judged by a vote of hands. Millions of Germans supported Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. I rest this case with one more argument. The whole world believed that the earth was flat until the 17th century.

3.What If I fail ? – We live in a society where failure of any type is frowned upon. In Being Wrong – Adventures in the margin of error',  author Kathryn Schulz  mentions  Thomas Aquinas, the medieval monk, for whom “error was not merely abhorrent but also abnormal, a perversion of the prescribed order of things.”  'Be perfect' is a life script that’s imprinted in our minds since our childhood days. It takes a considerable amount of grit, perseverance and determination to overcome fear of failure and embrace the uncertainty that is associated with trying something new. “Many a false step was made by standing still” wrote Tim Ferris  in his book 'The 4 hour workweek'. The consequences of inaction can be disastrous at times. Take that step knowing fully well that you are not infallible and learn from your mistakes.

Watch out for Part 2 of the blog post which outlines the other three remaining beliefs that prevent us from translating knowledge to action.

By Midhun Manmadhan

How To Overcome Your Monday Morning Blues

August 7, 2016

monday_morning_blues

As you might have noticed, your Monday morning blues don’t actually start on a Monday morning. It starts building momentum just as the sun begins to set on our happiest day of the week-Sunday. The gnawing reality of waking up to yet another gruelling week at the office makes us feel the blues.

So what can we do to minimize the feeling of sadness and be more charged up on a Monday ?

Reach office early – Reaching office early has multiple benefits.  You can beat peak hour traffic which tends to be higher on Monday and be more relaxed as you enter your office. Chances are, you might be the only person around apart from the security and the housekeeping staff. This gives you a crucial window of opportunity to calmly focus and plan your day.

Prepare a 'To-Do List' for the day – David Rock in his book Your Brain At Work talks about the need to grab a piece of paper and write down your tasks for the day. This leaves you brain to do more important stuff such as prioritizing and making decisions rather than trying to store information.  Some tasks performed by your brain eat up more energy than others. When energy is limited, you want to save it for the more important tasks right?

Avoid negative talk – There is no need to get into a competitive conversation on who had the worst weekend.  “ I was doing a chauffeur’s  job ferrying my relatives up and down for our family function “. “ Oh at least you got to drive around town. I was down and out with a bad bout of cold and all I did was inhaling steam all day.”  It’s natural to feel bad when we lose out on what we love to do on our weekends. However, this kind of negative talk does nothing other than over-amplifying our misery.

It’s OK to smile on a Monday morning –  Many of us have lost our inherent ability to smile despite having a pleasant disposition, lest the boss thinks we have no work around the office. Well, what if you are the boss? Does it hurt to smile? Emotions are contagious. There is evidence of body language mirroring. We tend to mirror the expressions of others. A recent study cited in Psychology Today mentions a research done at University of Missouri- Kansas City(UMKC) in which researchers discovered that smiling can make you look younger and also thinner. I could do with both.

How do you wish to start your Monday morning ?

By Midhun Manmadhan

 

The Problem With Being Too Busy

August 1, 2016

Alan Watts quote

Many of us tend to live a harried life. Monday to Friday cursing the drudgery at work and binge holidaying during the weekends. 
We are on an auto-pilot mode, repeating our actions like programmed machines. 

Alan Watts, the British philosopher better known for his attempt at popularizing Eastern philosophy for the Western audience categorically states the importance of living for the present and being mindful.

Another interesting author Greg McKeown in his recent book  'Essentialism,The Disciplined Pursuit of Less' asks "What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance ?" A worthy question indeed. We often love to tell others how busy and hectic our days have been. But of what good is it, when we do not have the time to reflect on our actions and re-calibrate our decisions ?

Too much worry about the future can tire us down from experiencing the beauty of  this present moment.

Let us not obsess about the future. A healthy concern helps. Obsession wears you down. The present moment is all that is there in your control. Are you willing to make the most of it ? - By Midhun Manmadhan

7 Ways to Overcome Your Phobia of Public Speaking

May 30, 2016

 

By Midhun Manmadhan ( As answered on Quora )


The best way to overcome phobia is being exposed to what you fear, first in a safe and supportive environment and then slowly graduating to more ‘risky’ situations.

  • Start by planning and preparing your speech ( Keep it short and simple )
  • Practice your speech in front of friends and ask for feedback(both positive as well as negative)
  • Don’t mug up your speech. Chances are , you will forget what you mugged up. Focus your mind of just the key points. Write those points in small cue cards and glance at them ONLY if required.
  • As you learn from feedback, keep taking every opportunity to address people. It could be a small meeting at work or informal gatherings. The more you attempt at getting yourself exposed to such situations, the quicker your phobia will disappear.
  • Do not obsess about looking perfect or being perfect all the time. None of us are. We are all Work In Progress (WIP).
  • There are worse things that could happen in life than getting booed out when you are making your speech. Look at rejections as being temporary.
  • Last but not the least, celebrate every single success of yours at public speaking, however small it may seem to you.

All the best !

 

How to appear confident

May 26, 2016

The biggest challenge most of us face when facing an audience is frayed nerves. The moment we get up and face people, our mind is filled up with all kind of thoughts. "Is the audience judging me ?", " What if I forget the talk ?", "Do I look presentable ?" etc.

It is quite normal to feel stressed under such circumstances. However, we do not have the luxury of time to rationalize our thoughts and get our head to think straight when we have so many people waiting to hear our talk.

What do we do under such circumstances ?

Running away is surely not an option. The quickest and easiest way out of this would be to desist from thinking and judging for a moment and focus on action. Your actions have the power to change your thoughts.

  1. Look up at the audience , establish and maintain eye contact
  2. Speak up in an audible and firm tone of voice

These two actions are sure to get the attention of your audience and make them sit up and notice your talk.

Why does this work ?

You don't look away when someone is looking at you. You can get your audience to engage with you by maintaining eye contact. When you speak loud and clear, and project your voice, it demands the attention of the audience. They would surely sense conviction and confidence in your tone.

So the next time you have a public speaking engagement or even an office meeting, don't forget these two tips. You'll be surprised at the results that you get !

If you'd like to learn more, do join us at our soft skills training workshops in hyderabad.

 

 

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Presentation Skills

So What If You Are the Boss ?

May 1, 2017

Boss_is_not_rightWe often see TV commercials where doctors and scientists dressed in their spotless white lab coats induce fear and persuade us to go for their recommended product. One that promises to wipe out germs from the face of the earth and your gums. Influence by authority might work for a toothpaste or antiseptic cream commercial, but using authority to get a buy-in from your team might not meet with the desired results all the time. I fully understand and appreciate that there are many instances where a boss might need to exercise authority to get work done. However, this needs to be an exception and not the norm.

An oft-repeated joke that I recall is about a boss who puts across his suggestion to a hapless team member stating” It’s just a suggestion, but remember who made it”. Having the freedom to air your views and take part in decision-making is every employee’s dream come true. When your boss tells you to put your head down and do what you are told, are you motivated enough to give your best? I doubt that.

Typical excuses that I hear from managers in organizational training include “but our industry is different”, “none of my team members have the required experience”,” we operate on a tight schedule “etc. Some bosses secretly fear of anarchy on their hands when they have to engage in collaborative decision making.

The fact of the matter is, human beings are probably the only creatures on earth driven by reason. When we hold back that reason and push our authority to get work done our way, we become less human. The boss may not always be right after all.

By Midhun Manmadhan

Does Money Motivate ?

January 23, 2017

money_and_motivation

Just as I was settling down with my morning coffee on a cold December morning,out popped a headline from the front page of my newspaper.  “Bring Nobel ,take home Rs 100 Crore : N Chandrababu Naidu.”  A sum that was 17 times more than the prize money given out with the Nobel award and a proclamation that would have made Jeremy Bentham proud.Jeremy Bentham’s theory of motivation centred around man’s desire to avoid pain and seek pleasure( read money bonus and incentives). The carrot and stick theory of motivation, developed in the early years of the industrial revolution, propounded that any worker will work if the reward is big enough or the punishment sufficiently unpleasant.

This would put human beings alongside any donkey which keeps reaching for the carrot (100cr) while being careful not to slow down for fear of getting whipped by the stick. Fortunately for AP scientists there is no stick. However, North Korean athletes did not have it so good. According to the Korea Times, the North Korean Olympic team was given a strict medal target and those who failed could be punished by being moved to poor quality housing, having their rations reduced and, in the worst case scenario, being sent to the coal mines as punishment. Those who won medals would be rewarded with better housing,car and other gifts from the regime.

No prizes for guessing whether that worked. North Korea’s 31 athletes competed in 9 events and won just 2 gold medals,3 silvers and two bronzes. 

Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics at Duke University, has shared the relationship of money and motivation through several of his books and articles. Ariely says using money to motivate people can be a double-edged sword. Low to moderate performance-based incentives can help for tasks that require cognitive ability. However when the incentive level is way too high,100 Cr in this case, it can command too much attention and thereby distract the person’s mind with thoughts about the reward. This may ultimately lead to stress and culminate in poor performance.

Alfie Kohn, author of Punished by Rewards, shares the same observation: that rewards kill instrinsic motivation and creativity. Kohn states that close to twenty research studies “show that people do inferior work when they are expecting to get a reward for it.”

Scientists work for a calling: A mission and purpose that drives them despite hardships for reaching their goals. Marie Curie aka Madame Curie, the first and the only woman to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences worked twelve to fourteen hours a day. “She lived an almost monastic lifestyle in her early years in Paris,surviving on nothing but buttered bread and tea which left her anaemic and regularly fainting from hunger,” writes Roam Krznaric in “How to find fulfilling work.” Her work gave her meaning and purpose and she was driven by her passion for science.

Would she have been motivated by the 100 Cr prize money ? No prizes for guessing!

The Other HAF of Leadership: Humility, Acceptance and Forgiveness

October 11, 2016

Can_you_change

Our relentless pursuit towards perfection and excellence tends to blind us from cultivating traits that help us become resilient in the event of failures. What might be those factors that help us adopt a positive attitude and sustain equanimity when the going gets tough ?

Humility – What do you feel when you meet an accomplished person who radiates humility? I’m positive that ‘threatened’ is the last word that comes to your mind. You would probably feel relaxed, at ease and interested in what the other person has to speak.

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less” was what C.S Lewis, one of the most intellectual giants of the 20th century, had to say about being humble. We needn’t shy away from feeling proud about our accomplishments. However, spare a thought for others who are a part of your team or organisation. It is also about creating that space for others to contribute. Who wants to hang around people who only keep talking about their ‘board room victories’ all the time?

A HBR article titled The Best Leaders Are Humble Leaderscites a study that backs up humility as one of the four critical factors of inclusive leadership. When leaders share the mistakes they have made in their journey, it creates an environment of trust among others.

Acceptance – "The ideal man bears the accident of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances."- apt words from Aristotle for some of us who refuse to accept defeats and learn to move on.  How can I accept my mistakes? What will others think of me? Shouldn’t I be that 'perfect self' that my life script has taught me to be?

Wearing a mask that projects strength without experiencing and expressing negative emotions in a healthy way can lead to serious health conditions over a period of time. Living a life of denial gets you nowhere, neither at work nor in your personal lives. It in fact reduces your self-confidence as you keep continuing to feel a sense of dissonance deep inside. An antidote to this dissonance is to have the humility to accept the fact that you cannot be perfect in everything all the time. It is OK to be wrong and to fail as long as you learn from your experiences. Practice acceptance of yourself and others without being too demanding.

Forgiveness – Think of a recent grudge that you had with someone. What do you feel? Now, keeping aspects of humility and acceptance in mind try releasing that feeling of grudge. The more you practice humility and acceptance of yourself and others without judging them, the easier it becomes to forgive. 

David K Williams, CEO of Fishbowl in a Forbes article titled ‘Forgiveness : The Least Understood Leadership Trait In The Workplace’ articulates how forgiveness is practiced at his company Fishbowl, which his bio states is a culmination of everything he has learned over his 30 plus years in business.  David believes that one of the reasons people stay at his company is that “ they know that when they make mistakes, we will help them overcome and learn new skills to avoid making the same mistake again.”

GGSC (University of California, Berkeley) in their amazing program ‘The Science of Happiness’ talks about true forgiveness-  Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciling or absolving the ‘offender’ of his responsibility. True forgiveness means accepting that a mistake has been made, reducing the urge to punish or seek vengeance and an increased compassion towards the offender for their own suffering.

These traits are not just for leaders though. They augur well for the rest of us who keep continuing to persevere and march forward in the journey of life. 

Why are so many people unhappy at work ?

August 31, 2016

unhappy_at_work87% of employees are unhappy and disengaged at work according to a recent survey conducted by Gallup, the global performance management and consulting company. I have no reason to doubt the survey results as the vast majority of employees that I interact with, in the course of my work as a learning consultant are unhappy with their work and the workplace environment. Mind you, this includes people at all levels in the organisation right up to department heads. This led me to dig deeper and explore plausible explanations for disengagement and unhappiness at work.

Lack of trust – Nearly one in three employees do not trust their employer as per the Edelman Global Trust Barometer Survey 2016. What exactly do we mean by trust here? In very simple terms, trust ‘is the willingness to be vulnerable to the action of others’. Trust signals confidence in others. When your organisation or supervisor trusts you to do the work assigned instead of hovering around micromanaging, you commitment levels rise up to ensure that the work is done no matter what.When the default climate in an organisation is one which considers employees as lazy job shirkers who need to be monitored closely, where is the scope for trust to exist? In the wake of Merissa Mayer of yahoo wanting employees to work in the office, there was much debate on whether she trusted her employees. Here is what Richard Branson founder of Virgin Group had to say about it "We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they are at their desk or in their kitchen.Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will."

A strong feeling of being considered as means to an end – A cog in the wheel is the closest metaphor that describes the feeling of insignificance employees experience at large organisations. There is a strong feeling that you as an individual do not matter. It’s the brand, the product, the customer loyalty that is more important to some organisations. A young, enterprising employee narrated how his manager once warned him - “Have a problem? Feel free to leave; I can get ten others like you to work here.” One doesn’t need a class in Kantian ethics to understand that people cannot be treated as means to an end. Their freedom needs to be respected. The mere usage of words such as head count, workforce, human resources all point to our tendency to club people along with machines
that dish out products. A resource by definition is a source or supply from which benefit is produced and in the process may be consumed or made unavailable. No wonder why people feel sapped out of their life energy at the fag end of their careers. How could we then motivate employees? Helping employees in aligning their values to those of the organisation, acknowledging their efforts and giving their work more meaning and purpose would go a long way in motivating them.

Perception of low autonomy and freedom – “Freedom is not worth having, if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” This quote from Mahatma Gandhi sums up the state of affairs in organisations that pay platitudes to words like empowerment but do not give the freedom to experiment and fail. This takes us back to our earlier observation about lack of trust. Where there is lack of trust, there are strict controls. For creativity and innovation to flourish, we need autonomy.Employees must be trusted to self-direct themselves and achieve goals. Study after study has shown that autonomy is a key factor that keeps employees intrinsically motivated to perform well and be happier at work. Companies like Google, Semco,Zappos, Morning Star, Atlassian, Whole Foods all work on the presumption of hiring the best people and leaving them free to do their jobs. 

More and more millennials are choosing to join organisations that allow for autonomy, help them attain mastery and align their values to a higher purpose. Organisations that put up with managers and a climate that discourages trust, looks at people as mere resources and need entries to be made on time sheets for loo breaks would be part of history in the near future.

By Midhun Manmadhan

6 Reasons why we don't translate knowledge to action - Part B

August 25, 2016

In my last blog post , I elaborated 3 out of 6 reasons why we don't translate knowledge into action. The remaining three are as follows:

  • Bookish knowledge does not work in real life
  • I'm too busy and there is simply no time
  • Where's my immediate pay off ?

4.Bookish knowledge does not work in real life - As one endures the hardships at work and starts experiencing the realities of what works and doesn't at the workplace, one forms strong beliefs rooted in previous experience. Soon , employees feel less inclined to try out new initiatives. Somehow there is a feeling of hopelessness that gets translated to protecting the current status quo. Where does knowledge written in the book come from ? They come from real life and most are based on emperical evidence. But we are so caught up in fire fighting on a day to day basis that we seldom have the mind space to even consider alternate ways of doing things.

5.I'm too busy and there is simply no time - Activity does not equal productivity. As Thoreau once said " It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants.The question is : What are we busy about ?" Are we aligning what we do on a day to day basis with the larger goals of our team,department and organisation ? Can I add value by translating new knowledge into actions at work ? Am I willing to pause and spend some time to think through new knowledge ?

6.Where's my immediate pay off ? - Our impulsive brain is always looking for an immediate pay-off.  Delayed gratifcation is not something that is the default mode for our evolutionary brain. The pleasure of an instant reward is far greater and difficult to resist than waiting patiently for rewards for a longer duration of time. This is true even when the rewards are much greater later. Behavior change takes time. It is non-linear. There are high chances of relapse to occur especially under stress. All this shouldn't dissuade you to harness the power of choice that human beings are gifted with in order to make a difference to their lives and those of others. Accept and be ready to stick through the course of time that it takes to master a new skill.

6 Reasons why we don't translate knowledge to action

August 15, 2016

Knowledge_to_actionAnyone who has attended a training session on resolving conflicts at work will vouch for the importance of active listening. Yet when it comes to practicing what we learn, all hell breaks loose -  “To hell with active listening, I’ll show him who’s the boss around here !”

Why do we find it so hard to practice what we learn ? In other words, why is there such a huge gap between knowledge and action ?

B=f(P,E)

Behavior(B) is a function of the person(P) and the environment(E) as proposed by Kurt Lewin, a German-American psychologist who was one of the modern pioneers of organizational psychology. So there are factors both within (P) and also outside(E) that determine people behavior. Since the external environment to a good extent is not in our direct control, let’s have a look at beliefs that are within us that create the knowing Vs doing gap.  

  1. I’ve always done it this way
  2. Everyone does it the old way so why can’t I ?
  3. What If I fail ?
  4. Bookish knowledge doesn’t work in real life
  5. I’m too busy and there is simply no time
  6. Where’s my immediate pay-off ?

1. I’ve always done it this way – When we fall into a certain pattern of behavior , it can be daunting  for our brain to re-wire itself and form new patterns of behavior. In an already over-stressed work environment, the last thing people want is to take the extra effort to change existing habits. This doesn’t matter even if the habit has not yielded many gains. Admonishing others publicly is a habit for certain supervisors. They have a strong belief that it sets an example for others and it also acts as a deterrent for the employee not to make mistakes again. A supervisor, who has this belief system, looks for evidence that confirms his belief and he conveniently ignores instances where this technique of feedback has backfired. Ask yourself, what if I did things differently ? What’s the worst that could happen ?  

2.Everyone does it the old way so why can’t I ? –  ‘Ad populum’ or appeal to common practice. The fallacy of arguing that because everyone does something, it must be all right for me to do so as well. Whether something is right or wrong cannot be judged by a vote of hands. Millions of Germans supported Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. I rest this case with one more argument. The whole world believed that the earth was flat until the 17th century.

3.What If I fail ? – We live in a society where failure of any type is frowned upon. In Being Wrong – Adventures in the margin of error',  author Kathryn Schulz  mentions  Thomas Aquinas, the medieval monk, for whom “error was not merely abhorrent but also abnormal, a perversion of the prescribed order of things.”  'Be perfect' is a life script that’s imprinted in our minds since our childhood days. It takes a considerable amount of grit, perseverance and determination to overcome fear of failure and embrace the uncertainty that is associated with trying something new. “Many a false step was made by standing still” wrote Tim Ferris  in his book 'The 4 hour workweek'. The consequences of inaction can be disastrous at times. Take that step knowing fully well that you are not infallible and learn from your mistakes.

Watch out for Part 2 of the blog post which outlines the other three remaining beliefs that prevent us from translating knowledge to action.

By Midhun Manmadhan

How To Overcome Your Monday Morning Blues

August 7, 2016

monday_morning_blues

As you might have noticed, your Monday morning blues don’t actually start on a Monday morning. It starts building momentum just as the sun begins to set on our happiest day of the week-Sunday. The gnawing reality of waking up to yet another gruelling week at the office makes us feel the blues.

So what can we do to minimize the feeling of sadness and be more charged up on a Monday ?

Reach office early – Reaching office early has multiple benefits.  You can beat peak hour traffic which tends to be higher on Monday and be more relaxed as you enter your office. Chances are, you might be the only person around apart from the security and the housekeeping staff. This gives you a crucial window of opportunity to calmly focus and plan your day.

Prepare a 'To-Do List' for the day – David Rock in his book Your Brain At Work talks about the need to grab a piece of paper and write down your tasks for the day. This leaves you brain to do more important stuff such as prioritizing and making decisions rather than trying to store information.  Some tasks performed by your brain eat up more energy than others. When energy is limited, you want to save it for the more important tasks right?

Avoid negative talk – There is no need to get into a competitive conversation on who had the worst weekend.  “ I was doing a chauffeur’s  job ferrying my relatives up and down for our family function “. “ Oh at least you got to drive around town. I was down and out with a bad bout of cold and all I did was inhaling steam all day.”  It’s natural to feel bad when we lose out on what we love to do on our weekends. However, this kind of negative talk does nothing other than over-amplifying our misery.

It’s OK to smile on a Monday morning –  Many of us have lost our inherent ability to smile despite having a pleasant disposition, lest the boss thinks we have no work around the office. Well, what if you are the boss? Does it hurt to smile? Emotions are contagious. There is evidence of body language mirroring. We tend to mirror the expressions of others. A recent study cited in Psychology Today mentions a research done at University of Missouri- Kansas City(UMKC) in which researchers discovered that smiling can make you look younger and also thinner. I could do with both.

How do you wish to start your Monday morning ?

By Midhun Manmadhan

 

The Problem With Being Too Busy

August 1, 2016

Alan Watts quote

Many of us tend to live a harried life. Monday to Friday cursing the drudgery at work and binge holidaying during the weekends. 
We are on an auto-pilot mode, repeating our actions like programmed machines. 

Alan Watts, the British philosopher better known for his attempt at popularizing Eastern philosophy for the Western audience categorically states the importance of living for the present and being mindful.

Another interesting author Greg McKeown in his recent book  'Essentialism,The Disciplined Pursuit of Less' asks "What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance ?" A worthy question indeed. We often love to tell others how busy and hectic our days have been. But of what good is it, when we do not have the time to reflect on our actions and re-calibrate our decisions ?

Too much worry about the future can tire us down from experiencing the beauty of  this present moment.

Let us not obsess about the future. A healthy concern helps. Obsession wears you down. The present moment is all that is there in your control. Are you willing to make the most of it ? - By Midhun Manmadhan

7 Ways to Overcome Your Phobia of Public Speaking

May 30, 2016

 

By Midhun Manmadhan ( As answered on Quora )


The best way to overcome phobia is being exposed to what you fear, first in a safe and supportive environment and then slowly graduating to more ‘risky’ situations.

  • Start by planning and preparing your speech ( Keep it short and simple )
  • Practice your speech in front of friends and ask for feedback(both positive as well as negative)
  • Don’t mug up your speech. Chances are , you will forget what you mugged up. Focus your mind of just the key points. Write those points in small cue cards and glance at them ONLY if required.
  • As you learn from feedback, keep taking every opportunity to address people. It could be a small meeting at work or informal gatherings. The more you attempt at getting yourself exposed to such situations, the quicker your phobia will disappear.
  • Do not obsess about looking perfect or being perfect all the time. None of us are. We are all Work In Progress (WIP).
  • There are worse things that could happen in life than getting booed out when you are making your speech. Look at rejections as being temporary.
  • Last but not the least, celebrate every single success of yours at public speaking, however small it may seem to you.

All the best !

 

How to appear confident

May 26, 2016

The biggest challenge most of us face when facing an audience is frayed nerves. The moment we get up and face people, our mind is filled up with all kind of thoughts. "Is the audience judging me ?", " What if I forget the talk ?", "Do I look presentable ?" etc.

It is quite normal to feel stressed under such circumstances. However, we do not have the luxury of time to rationalize our thoughts and get our head to think straight when we have so many people waiting to hear our talk.

What do we do under such circumstances ?

Running away is surely not an option. The quickest and easiest way out of this would be to desist from thinking and judging for a moment and focus on action. Your actions have the power to change your thoughts.

  1. Look up at the audience , establish and maintain eye contact
  2. Speak up in an audible and firm tone of voice

These two actions are sure to get the attention of your audience and make them sit up and notice your talk.

Why does this work ?

You don't look away when someone is looking at you. You can get your audience to engage with you by maintaining eye contact. When you speak loud and clear, and project your voice, it demands the attention of the audience. They would surely sense conviction and confidence in your tone.

So the next time you have a public speaking engagement or even an office meeting, don't forget these two tips. You'll be surprised at the results that you get !

If you'd like to learn more, do join us at our soft skills training workshops in hyderabad.

 

 

View older posts »

So What If You Are the Boss ?

May 1, 2017

Boss_is_not_rightWe often see TV commercials where doctors and scientists dressed in their spotless white lab coats induce fear and persuade us to go for their recommended product. One that promises to wipe out germs from the face of the earth and your gums. Influence by authority might work for a toothpaste or antiseptic cream commercial, but using authority to get a buy-in from your team might not meet with the desired results all the time. I fully understand and appreciate that there are many instances where a boss might need to exercise authority to get work done. However, this needs to be an exception and not the norm.

An oft-repeated joke that I recall is about a boss who puts across his suggestion to a hapless team member stating” It’s just a suggestion, but remember who made it”. Having the freedom to air your views and take part in decision-making is every employee’s dream come true. When your boss tells you to put your head down and do what you are told, are you motivated enough to give your best? I doubt that.

Typical excuses that I hear from managers in organizational training include “but our industry is different”, “none of my team members have the required experience”,” we operate on a tight schedule “etc. Some bosses secretly fear of anarchy on their hands when they have to engage in collaborative decision making.

The fact of the matter is, human beings are probably the only creatures on earth driven by reason. When we hold back that reason and push our authority to get work done our way, we become less human. The boss may not always be right after all.

By Midhun Manmadhan

Does Money Motivate ?

January 23, 2017

money_and_motivation

Just as I was settling down with my morning coffee on a cold December morning,out popped a headline from the front page of my newspaper.  “Bring Nobel ,take home Rs 100 Crore : N Chandrababu Naidu.”  A sum that was 17 times more than the prize money given out with the Nobel award and a proclamation that would have made Jeremy Bentham proud.Jeremy Bentham’s theory of motivation centred around man’s desire to avoid pain and seek pleasure( read money bonus and incentives). The carrot and stick theory of motivation, developed in the early years of the industrial revolution, propounded that any worker will work if the reward is big enough or the punishment sufficiently unpleasant.

This would put human beings alongside any donkey which keeps reaching for the carrot (100cr) while being careful not to slow down for fear of getting whipped by the stick. Fortunately for AP scientists there is no stick. However, North Korean athletes did not have it so good. According to the Korea Times, the North Korean Olympic team was given a strict medal target and those who failed could be punished by being moved to poor quality housing, having their rations reduced and, in the worst case scenario, being sent to the coal mines as punishment. Those who won medals would be rewarded with better housing,car and other gifts from the regime.

No prizes for guessing whether that worked. North Korea’s 31 athletes competed in 9 events and won just 2 gold medals,3 silvers and two bronzes. 

Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics at Duke University, has shared the relationship of money and motivation through several of his books and articles. Ariely says using money to motivate people can be a double-edged sword. Low to moderate performance-based incentives can help for tasks that require cognitive ability. However when the incentive level is way too high,100 Cr in this case, it can command too much attention and thereby distract the person’s mind with thoughts about the reward. This may ultimately lead to stress and culminate in poor performance.

Alfie Kohn, author of Punished by Rewards, shares the same observation: that rewards kill instrinsic motivation and creativity. Kohn states that close to twenty research studies “show that people do inferior work when they are expecting to get a reward for it.”

Scientists work for a calling: A mission and purpose that drives them despite hardships for reaching their goals. Marie Curie aka Madame Curie, the first and the only woman to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences worked twelve to fourteen hours a day. “She lived an almost monastic lifestyle in her early years in Paris,surviving on nothing but buttered bread and tea which left her anaemic and regularly fainting from hunger,” writes Roam Krznaric in “How to find fulfilling work.” Her work gave her meaning and purpose and she was driven by her passion for science.

Would she have been motivated by the 100 Cr prize money ? No prizes for guessing!

The Other HAF of Leadership: Humility, Acceptance and Forgiveness

October 11, 2016

Can_you_change

Our relentless pursuit towards perfection and excellence tends to blind us from cultivating traits that help us become resilient in the event of failures. What might be those factors that help us adopt a positive attitude and sustain equanimity when the going gets tough ?

Humility – What do you feel when you meet an accomplished person who radiates humility? I’m positive that ‘threatened’ is the last word that comes to your mind. You would probably feel relaxed, at ease and interested in what the other person has to speak.

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less” was what C.S Lewis, one of the most intellectual giants of the 20th century, had to say about being humble. We needn’t shy away from feeling proud about our accomplishments. However, spare a thought for others who are a part of your team or organisation. It is also about creating that space for others to contribute. Who wants to hang around people who only keep talking about their ‘board room victories’ all the time?

A HBR article titled The Best Leaders Are Humble Leaderscites a study that backs up humility as one of the four critical factors of inclusive leadership. When leaders share the mistakes they have made in their journey, it creates an environment of trust among others.

Acceptance – "The ideal man bears the accident of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances."- apt words from Aristotle for some of us who refuse to accept defeats and learn to move on.  How can I accept my mistakes? What will others think of me? Shouldn’t I be that 'perfect self' that my life script has taught me to be?

Wearing a mask that projects strength without experiencing and expressing negative emotions in a healthy way can lead to serious health conditions over a period of time. Living a life of denial gets you nowhere, neither at work nor in your personal lives. It in fact reduces your self-confidence as you keep continuing to feel a sense of dissonance deep inside. An antidote to this dissonance is to have the humility to accept the fact that you cannot be perfect in everything all the time. It is OK to be wrong and to fail as long as you learn from your experiences. Practice acceptance of yourself and others without being too demanding.

Forgiveness – Think of a recent grudge that you had with someone. What do you feel? Now, keeping aspects of humility and acceptance in mind try releasing that feeling of grudge. The more you practice humility and acceptance of yourself and others without judging them, the easier it becomes to forgive. 

David K Williams, CEO of Fishbowl in a Forbes article titled ‘Forgiveness : The Least Understood Leadership Trait In The Workplace’ articulates how forgiveness is practiced at his company Fishbowl, which his bio states is a culmination of everything he has learned over his 30 plus years in business.  David believes that one of the reasons people stay at his company is that “ they know that when they make mistakes, we will help them overcome and learn new skills to avoid making the same mistake again.”

GGSC (University of California, Berkeley) in their amazing program ‘The Science of Happiness’ talks about true forgiveness-  Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciling or absolving the ‘offender’ of his responsibility. True forgiveness means accepting that a mistake has been made, reducing the urge to punish or seek vengeance and an increased compassion towards the offender for their own suffering.

These traits are not just for leaders though. They augur well for the rest of us who keep continuing to persevere and march forward in the journey of life. 

Why are so many people unhappy at work ?

August 31, 2016

unhappy_at_work87% of employees are unhappy and disengaged at work according to a recent survey conducted by Gallup, the global performance management and consulting company. I have no reason to doubt the survey results as the vast majority of employees that I interact with, in the course of my work as a learning consultant are unhappy with their work and the workplace environment. Mind you, this includes people at all levels in the organisation right up to department heads. This led me to dig deeper and explore plausible explanations for disengagement and unhappiness at work.

Lack of trust – Nearly one in three employees do not trust their employer as per the Edelman Global Trust Barometer Survey 2016. What exactly do we mean by trust here? In very simple terms, trust ‘is the willingness to be vulnerable to the action of others’. Trust signals confidence in others. When your organisation or supervisor trusts you to do the work assigned instead of hovering around micromanaging, you commitment levels rise up to ensure that the work is done no matter what.When the default climate in an organisation is one which considers employees as lazy job shirkers who need to be monitored closely, where is the scope for trust to exist? In the wake of Merissa Mayer of yahoo wanting employees to work in the office, there was much debate on whether she trusted her employees. Here is what Richard Branson founder of Virgin Group had to say about it "We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they are at their desk or in their kitchen.Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will."

A strong feeling of being considered as means to an end – A cog in the wheel is the closest metaphor that describes the feeling of insignificance employees experience at large organisations. There is a strong feeling that you as an individual do not matter. It’s the brand, the product, the customer loyalty that is more important to some organisations. A young, enterprising employee narrated how his manager once warned him - “Have a problem? Feel free to leave; I can get ten others like you to work here.” One doesn’t need a class in Kantian ethics to understand that people cannot be treated as means to an end. Their freedom needs to be respected. The mere usage of words such as head count, workforce, human resources all point to our tendency to club people along with machines
that dish out products. A resource by definition is a source or supply from which benefit is produced and in the process may be consumed or made unavailable. No wonder why people feel sapped out of their life energy at the fag end of their careers. How could we then motivate employees? Helping employees in aligning their values to those of the organisation, acknowledging their efforts and giving their work more meaning and purpose would go a long way in motivating them.

Perception of low autonomy and freedom – “Freedom is not worth having, if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” This quote from Mahatma Gandhi sums up the state of affairs in organisations that pay platitudes to words like empowerment but do not give the freedom to experiment and fail. This takes us back to our earlier observation about lack of trust. Where there is lack of trust, there are strict controls. For creativity and innovation to flourish, we need autonomy.Employees must be trusted to self-direct themselves and achieve goals. Study after study has shown that autonomy is a key factor that keeps employees intrinsically motivated to perform well and be happier at work. Companies like Google, Semco,Zappos, Morning Star, Atlassian, Whole Foods all work on the presumption of hiring the best people and leaving them free to do their jobs. 

More and more millennials are choosing to join organisations that allow for autonomy, help them attain mastery and align their values to a higher purpose. Organisations that put up with managers and a climate that discourages trust, looks at people as mere resources and need entries to be made on time sheets for loo breaks would be part of history in the near future.

By Midhun Manmadhan

6 Reasons why we don't translate knowledge to action - Part B

August 25, 2016

In my last blog post , I elaborated 3 out of 6 reasons why we don't translate knowledge into action. The remaining three are as follows:

  • Bookish knowledge does not work in real life
  • I'm too busy and there is simply no time
  • Where's my immediate pay off ?

4.Bookish knowledge does not work in real life - As one endures the hardships at work and starts experiencing the realities of what works and doesn't at the workplace, one forms strong beliefs rooted in previous experience. Soon , employees feel less inclined to try out new initiatives. Somehow there is a feeling of hopelessness that gets translated to protecting the current status quo. Where does knowledge written in the book come from ? They come from real life and most are based on emperical evidence. But we are so caught up in fire fighting on a day to day basis that we seldom have the mind space to even consider alternate ways of doing things.

5.I'm too busy and there is simply no time - Activity does not equal productivity. As Thoreau once said " It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants.The question is : What are we busy about ?" Are we aligning what we do on a day to day basis with the larger goals of our team,department and organisation ? Can I add value by translating new knowledge into actions at work ? Am I willing to pause and spend some time to think through new knowledge ?

6.Where's my immediate pay off ? - Our impulsive brain is always looking for an immediate pay-off.  Delayed gratifcation is not something that is the default mode for our evolutionary brain. The pleasure of an instant reward is far greater and difficult to resist than waiting patiently for rewards for a longer duration of time. This is true even when the rewards are much greater later. Behavior change takes time. It is non-linear. There are high chances of relapse to occur especially under stress. All this shouldn't dissuade you to harness the power of choice that human beings are gifted with in order to make a difference to their lives and those of others. Accept and be ready to stick through the course of time that it takes to master a new skill.

6 Reasons why we don't translate knowledge to action

August 15, 2016

Knowledge_to_actionAnyone who has attended a training session on resolving conflicts at work will vouch for the importance of active listening. Yet when it comes to practicing what we learn, all hell breaks loose -  “To hell with active listening, I’ll show him who’s the boss around here !”

Why do we find it so hard to practice what we learn ? In other words, why is there such a huge gap between knowledge and action ?

B=f(P,E)

Behavior(B) is a function of the person(P) and the environment(E) as proposed by Kurt Lewin, a German-American psychologist who was one of the modern pioneers of organizational psychology. So there are factors both within (P) and also outside(E) that determine people behavior. Since the external environment to a good extent is not in our direct control, let’s have a look at beliefs that are within us that create the knowing Vs doing gap.  

  1. I’ve always done it this way
  2. Everyone does it the old way so why can’t I ?
  3. What If I fail ?
  4. Bookish knowledge doesn’t work in real life
  5. I’m too busy and there is simply no time
  6. Where’s my immediate pay-off ?

1. I’ve always done it this way – When we fall into a certain pattern of behavior , it can be daunting  for our brain to re-wire itself and form new patterns of behavior. In an already over-stressed work environment, the last thing people want is to take the extra effort to change existing habits. This doesn’t matter even if the habit has not yielded many gains. Admonishing others publicly is a habit for certain supervisors. They have a strong belief that it sets an example for others and it also acts as a deterrent for the employee not to make mistakes again. A supervisor, who has this belief system, looks for evidence that confirms his belief and he conveniently ignores instances where this technique of feedback has backfired. Ask yourself, what if I did things differently ? What’s the worst that could happen ?  

2.Everyone does it the old way so why can’t I ? –  ‘Ad populum’ or appeal to common practice. The fallacy of arguing that because everyone does something, it must be all right for me to do so as well. Whether something is right or wrong cannot be judged by a vote of hands. Millions of Germans supported Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. I rest this case with one more argument. The whole world believed that the earth was flat until the 17th century.

3.What If I fail ? – We live in a society where failure of any type is frowned upon. In Being Wrong – Adventures in the margin of error',  author Kathryn Schulz  mentions  Thomas Aquinas, the medieval monk, for whom “error was not merely abhorrent but also abnormal, a perversion of the prescribed order of things.”  'Be perfect' is a life script that’s imprinted in our minds since our childhood days. It takes a considerable amount of grit, perseverance and determination to overcome fear of failure and embrace the uncertainty that is associated with trying something new. “Many a false step was made by standing still” wrote Tim Ferris  in his book 'The 4 hour workweek'. The consequences of inaction can be disastrous at times. Take that step knowing fully well that you are not infallible and learn from your mistakes.

Watch out for Part 2 of the blog post which outlines the other three remaining beliefs that prevent us from translating knowledge to action.

By Midhun Manmadhan

How To Overcome Your Monday Morning Blues

August 7, 2016

monday_morning_blues

As you might have noticed, your Monday morning blues don’t actually start on a Monday morning. It starts building momentum just as the sun begins to set on our happiest day of the week-Sunday. The gnawing reality of waking up to yet another gruelling week at the office makes us feel the blues.

So what can we do to minimize the feeling of sadness and be more charged up on a Monday ?

Reach office early – Reaching office early has multiple benefits.  You can beat peak hour traffic which tends to be higher on Monday and be more relaxed as you enter your office. Chances are, you might be the only person around apart from the security and the housekeeping staff. This gives you a crucial window of opportunity to calmly focus and plan your day.

Prepare a 'To-Do List' for the day – David Rock in his book Your Brain At Work talks about the need to grab a piece of paper and write down your tasks for the day. This leaves you brain to do more important stuff such as prioritizing and making decisions rather than trying to store information.  Some tasks performed by your brain eat up more energy than others. When energy is limited, you want to save it for the more important tasks right?

Avoid negative talk – There is no need to get into a competitive conversation on who had the worst weekend.  “ I was doing a chauffeur’s  job ferrying my relatives up and down for our family function “. “ Oh at least you got to drive around town. I was down and out with a bad bout of cold and all I did was inhaling steam all day.”  It’s natural to feel bad when we lose out on what we love to do on our weekends. However, this kind of negative talk does nothing other than over-amplifying our misery.

It’s OK to smile on a Monday morning –  Many of us have lost our inherent ability to smile despite having a pleasant disposition, lest the boss thinks we have no work around the office. Well, what if you are the boss? Does it hurt to smile? Emotions are contagious. There is evidence of body language mirroring. We tend to mirror the expressions of others. A recent study cited in Psychology Today mentions a research done at University of Missouri- Kansas City(UMKC) in which researchers discovered that smiling can make you look younger and also thinner. I could do with both.

How do you wish to start your Monday morning ?

By Midhun Manmadhan

 

The Problem With Being Too Busy

August 1, 2016

Alan Watts quote

Many of us tend to live a harried life. Monday to Friday cursing the drudgery at work and binge holidaying during the weekends. 
We are on an auto-pilot mode, repeating our actions like programmed machines. 

Alan Watts, the British philosopher better known for his attempt at popularizing Eastern philosophy for the Western audience categorically states the importance of living for the present and being mindful.

Another interesting author Greg McKeown in his recent book  'Essentialism,The Disciplined Pursuit of Less' asks "What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance ?" A worthy question indeed. We often love to tell others how busy and hectic our days have been. But of what good is it, when we do not have the time to reflect on our actions and re-calibrate our decisions ?

Too much worry about the future can tire us down from experiencing the beauty of  this present moment.

Let us not obsess about the future. A healthy concern helps. Obsession wears you down. The present moment is all that is there in your control. Are you willing to make the most of it ? - By Midhun Manmadhan

7 Ways to Overcome Your Phobia of Public Speaking

May 30, 2016

 

By Midhun Manmadhan ( As answered on Quora )


The best way to overcome phobia is being exposed to what you fear, first in a safe and supportive environment and then slowly graduating to more ‘risky’ situations.

  • Start by planning and preparing your speech ( Keep it short and simple )
  • Practice your speech in front of friends and ask for feedback(both positive as well as negative)
  • Don’t mug up your speech. Chances are , you will forget what you mugged up. Focus your mind of just the key points. Write those points in small cue cards and glance at them ONLY if required.
  • As you learn from feedback, keep taking every opportunity to address people. It could be a small meeting at work or informal gatherings. The more you attempt at getting yourself exposed to such situations, the quicker your phobia will disappear.
  • Do not obsess about looking perfect or being perfect all the time. None of us are. We are all Work In Progress (WIP).
  • There are worse things that could happen in life than getting booed out when you are making your speech. Look at rejections as being temporary.
  • Last but not the least, celebrate every single success of yours at public speaking, however small it may seem to you.

All the best !

 

How to appear confident

May 26, 2016

The biggest challenge most of us face when facing an audience is frayed nerves. The moment we get up and face people, our mind is filled up with all kind of thoughts. "Is the audience judging me ?", " What if I forget the talk ?", "Do I look presentable ?" etc.

It is quite normal to feel stressed under such circumstances. However, we do not have the luxury of time to rationalize our thoughts and get our head to think straight when we have so many people waiting to hear our talk.

What do we do under such circumstances ?

Running away is surely not an option. The quickest and easiest way out of this would be to desist from thinking and judging for a moment and focus on action. Your actions have the power to change your thoughts.

  1. Look up at the audience , establish and maintain eye contact
  2. Speak up in an audible and firm tone of voice

These two actions are sure to get the attention of your audience and make them sit up and notice your talk.

Why does this work ?

You don't look away when someone is looking at you. You can get your audience to engage with you by maintaining eye contact. When you speak loud and clear, and project your voice, it demands the attention of the audience. They would surely sense conviction and confidence in your tone.

So the next time you have a public speaking engagement or even an office meeting, don't forget these two tips. You'll be surprised at the results that you get !

If you'd like to learn more, do join us at our soft skills training workshops in hyderabad.

 

 

View older posts »