Is your boss or coworker a puzzle to manage? Do you find managing up and around hard?
Have you ever wondered how some folks are so thoughtful that you find them endearing?
If yes, this read may interest you.
When I was in elementary school, my grandmother (father’s mother) shared a few stories from her stable. Our ritual was very predictable — she sat on the floor mat (“pai”) with her legs crisscrossed. I dutifully and earnestly followed suit. Here is one of the gems engraved in my heart — a young man, his wife and preschooler son lived in the city. His father became frail, so he came to live with them. As the days progressed, the old man broke a few plates. The young man was annoyed, so he got his father a wooden bowl. The rest of the family ate from their fancy plates.
One day, he noticed his (preschooler) son attempting to chisel wood. Enamored with curiosity and with a tinge of pride, he asked, “What are you making?” The preschooler earnestly responded, “Oh, I am making a wooden bowl for you and mom when you grow old.” With those words, the child continued his carpentry. The young man did not like the idea of being served in a bowl, like a beggar. He tossed out the wooden bowl he gave his dad. From that day, the whole family ate with traditional plates. He made sure his father sat at the head of the table — everyday.
With that, my grandmother in her trademark style, let the story linger — no morals, no advice.
Now, as a dad, the full impact of the story descended on me like a thunderbolt. You see, there was no social security concept in India. My grand mom’s investment for my parents was in my impressionable mind through stories! She wanted her child taken care like the wonderful way my parents cared for her. Her outpouring of love and sheer brilliance sparkled — her words of wisdom still reside in my consciousness.
The story also showcases something we do more succinctly when our kids misbehave. We go on our knees, search for their eyes to lock and with an earnestness in our voice, we share ,“How would you feel, if you are treated that way?”
The angular tilted down heads of kids personify a training from tender age — align how you give to how you would like to receive.
From Gold to Platinum — Re-pivoting a relationship tenet.
Couple of years ago, I attended a leadership training in New Jersey. There was one takeaway that resonated deeply with me. The best way to explain it is by reverting back to my grandma’s story.
Serving the old man in a plate is a great first move but falls short. There is a higher calling. Giving the old man what he really desires — it may have nothing to do with the plate!
I googled the concept, what my grand mom ingrained in me was the golden rule(treat people the way you like to be treated), what I learnt in the training in later life was the platinum rule (treat people the way they like to be treated)! On my flight back to Houston, I was thinking — what if the old man was indifferent to eating from a bowl or plate, how to figure out what he really desired? As I thought deeper, a smile engulfed my face.
Impact on Careers: Managing up and all around.
We are all endowed with our own experiences and we see the world through our own prisms. Most of us are trained from a young age to treat others the way we like to be treated. If that holds true, the new aha is a treasure of gargantuan proportions. By virtue of our own gestures most of us reveal our deep seated ways how we like to be treated! The best way to learn about other’s desires is to watch their giving acts. Could the secret to executing the Platinum rule reside within the golden rule?
For example, have you felt privileged when someone catches you doing something right and publicly praises you? Does that person consistently and genuinely do it for others as well. Could his/her giving act be a great example of how (s)he likes to be treated?
Did you get an email from your boss or a colleague with a line below the signature that read — “apologize for any typos, sent from smart phone.” All of us have varying thresholds for typos, where do you think they would likely to fall in that spectrum? What inferences can you draw on their own expectations when they receive an email, sent from a desktop?
Neither of the two observations would tumble out, if you sit across them and ask them how and what they like to receive. As humans, we never sit for a moment to verbalize the nuances that truly drive us — we just know when it happens. In that sense, managing up and around is hard.
My aha to address this challenge — If majority of the folks act out the golden rule, their very acts give us nuggets on how they like to be treated!
Success in Career and Life: Thoughtful Nuggets
Observing others is one thing, what to observe that matters is another. We do not need to be a Sherlock Holmes with deep observational skills. The most beautiful thing is that people who matter to us — family, bosses, colleagues, customers- reveal to us in broad daylight right in front of our eyes on how they like to be treated. The nuggets are embedded in their giving acts — good acts they do on their own volition consistently. Great relationships bloom when we observe their simple giving acts and reflect them thoughtfully. My grandmother and her thoughtful stories are a testament to that.