BEYOND THE DEFENSE AND BLAME GAME

I am quite afraid of the “we need to talk” kind of situations in my personal life and at work, I am worried to see a meeting invite from the manager with just the subject mentioned as “Connect” and no agenda mentioned. Both represent not-so-happy communication, rather, it’s self-explanatory that it’s gonna be a difficult conversation. As one grows, one witnesses such conversations and there is no escape route.

Listening to negative things about yourself is not easy. Let me put it in better words. Listening to the areas of improvement in your work or behaviour is not easy and the first reaction is the defense. Most of us try to defend ourselves even before truly evaluating what we did. This does no good and then makes the conversation even more complicated. Next comes the blame game. It’s kind of easy to push the blame. Isn’t it? But does that make you clean? Think about it.

Over the years, I have been in such situations many times, and the journey from being a naive individual or professional to a mature and experienced one has given me a lot of learnings. And now, I have learned to look beyond the defense and the blame game. What do I exactly do?

While discussing the negative feedback the first and foremost thing that I do is accept the mistake. It’s hard but it’s the best to do! Then I talk about why it happened and what can I do to improve it. Trust me, this makes the conversation easier and short. Post this discussion, I reflect upon myself and disintegrate the feedback. I pick up what is useful and let go of what is not. Remember that not ALL that you get to hear is right or useful. Make your choice. Negative feedback or areas of improvement are not always a bad discussion if you learn to decide which part to keep and which part to let go of. Thus, you can actually turn these difficult conversations into something good.

But what if there is no mistake done by you and yet you get a mouthful from your boss, spouse, or parents? It happens, right? And what’s the immediate reaction of most of us? Yell back? Or revert in an aggressive way? Does it help? Definitely not! What do I do then?

Again, this didn’t come to me naturally but I have learnt it on my way to growing up! I stay calm! Sometimes so calm that it calms down the other person. We all know that one word leads to another and in no time an argument can flare-up. So, staying calm really works in these situations. The next thing that I do is the person what makes him believe that needless to say, in a very controlled tone. Once you know the source, it’s easy to clear the air. In most such situations, the misunderstanding is cleared but not all situations and people are the same. So, after considerable effort, if I feel that the other person DOESN’T want to understand, I end the discussion by saying “LET’S AGREE TO DISAGREE”.

Now, what I do after that is even more important. I shed off all the inhibitions about how good or bad I am in the eyes of that person. Again, this didn’t come naturally to me but I have learned this over the years. Someone has truly said that don’t let the negative feedback DEFINE YOU. You are much more!

So, take it with a pinch of salt and move ahead. Negative feedback can actually help you only if you learn how to deal with it. How do you cope with negative feedback and difficult conversations? Do you reflect upon them? Does it drive you to do better or do you break down? Do share your experience and tips and tricks!

HOW TO MOVE AHEAD WHEN THERE’RE NEGATIVE COMMENTS ALL AROUND?

People, mostly those who are associated with us in some way or the other pull us down in our life. A random stranger will never do that to us without having a valid reason and when someone we know does that, feels all the more pathetic.

There are three major ways how they treat us to pull us down or be an obstacle on our way to proceed ahead. I call them The ‘S’ Treatments.

Silence: Have you ever gone to your boss and asked him something that you have planned and waited for his response for hours? Later you are made to understand that you have been turned down by him. He used Silent Treatment on you to display his disapproval of your proposal. I don’t know these behaviors of the bosses are prevalent in the corporate sector or not but in small organizations, it is very common. I have gone through it a number of times when I was working.

Even I have this experience at my own home. My elders simply avoid or change the topic or stay silent till I lose my patience of waiting for a YES or NO. It literally kills your spirit.

Sarcasm: Comments or remarks like: “Oh, she will definitely top the class this year” for a girl who is an average student; “He earns so much that we need not work anymore” for a man who’s still searching for a job are called sarcastic comments or sarcasm. Sarcasm has never helped or built anyone. It has only hurt, degraded, and made people angry. And mostly our own family members, our friends, and colleagues use sarcasm to pull us down.

I always share this incident of my life with all. My Nanaji (Maternal grandfather) reacted when I wanted to buy a guitar and learn when I was a kid. He said, “Will you be a bandwala?” And today I can compose songs but I don’t know how to play a single musical instrument. He succeeded to stop me that day and I failed to move ahead. He was a very loving grandfather, he just had this prejudice about musicians.

Sentimental: This is the more dreaded weapon our elders use against us, to stop us. “If you step out from this house, you will never see my face again.” Have you ever heard such emotional or sentimental statements made by your parents? Maybe the above statement was too filmy but there are many such examples that we know that stop us from moving ahead or doing things our way.

At times, we face all three treatments applied against us at different points of time. People try their best to be a hindrance.

In my life, in certain instances, I have let them succeed in their mission of stopping me from doing something that I had ever wanted. But in other cases, I just did what I had to do and felt like doing. If I introspect and retrospect all those instances together, I regret thinking “Why did I let them stop me?” Definitely, we can’t predict our life but when we wanted to do something good in life, we should not be suppressed by these ‘S’ treatments.

Remember, we can defuse the effects of this Three ‘S’ Treatment with another ‘S’ Treatment from our side. And that’s called, “STANDING FIRM“. Standing Firm on our decision doesn’t mean that we will have to be rude, rebellious, and arrogant. We can stand firm humbly as well. Our this attitude will definitely let a person speak out if he is silent, stop him to be sarcastic for long and soften his heart to accept our decision at the end.

KEEP WALKING…

There are basically two types of people in this world – those who listen and pay attention and others who hear sounds and choose to ignore. If you know me well enough, you probably would know which side I’m tilting more towards…

If there is one thing that humankind is blessed with, it is the ability to use the words, include them in sentences and be vocal about our feelings – but how sad is it when all that some people end up doing is bring another down by their harsh words and negativity?

I’m no saint, when it comes to using such words – we have all said it, meant it, or even wished it in our minds. I guess it all boils down to what we all have within us, which is called crab mentality.

Crab mentality involves pulling down anyone who achieves or is about to achieve success greater than yours – and how more vocally can one get, by muttering words that would not only destroy one’s morale but also mess with one’s thoughts? – Think about that.

We aren’t bad people, yet somehow we as a race, seem to disappoint on so many levels, that it makes us think, do we deserve what we eventually get in life, in terms of support from friends, family, and well-wishers? Let us look at this picture a little closer, and notice the smaller things-shall we?

There is a man, who as he goes through life, is told that he is useless, an idiot, and even that he is worthless, where-in he finds himself broken at different phases in his life, but what we may not notice is; that he gets up every time and keeps walking at a brisk pace towards his eventual goal to achieve success.

What we can learn from the above picture is; The road in life is never easy, and the more people see you as a threat to them, the more likely you are to be targeted. However, keep going – for tough situations never last, tough people do.

You might have all heard about the half-full glass story, and how that being an optimist, helps look at the world in a better light. I will go ahead and say, being an optimist will get you as far as where your mind can take you, but being a realist is a far better option at least that way, one is aware of their surroundings and act according to prevailing situations.

We live in a country <India> where emotions run high at the slightest poke, and controlling that, is probably the biggest task, we as Indians can work on.


Learn to ignore the small things, only then, when you learn to do that, will the bigger things not affect you as much.