Donation Culture!


donate1Since time immemorial people have been donating for various causes. Some people have been wealthyprosperous to average persons like you and me. But many people who themselves are monetarily challenged have also been donating. Causes for each individual and organisations have been different. I would prefer to use a phrase sharing of resources for the monetarily challenged people.  

I had written a blog previously about Donation Culture.

The largest of the donor known to us has been Bill Gates. Through his foundation Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation he has donated the US $ 60/ billion or maybe even more. When asked by someone about his still being in the top five wealthiest people in the world, he replied, “Maybe I am not donating enough money!” Warren Buffet and many superrich people have been donating funds for the causes they believe. Recently, the Titanic actor Leonardo Decaprio donated the US $ 30/ million to help douse the fires that have erupted in the Amazon River jungle.  

The list will go on and on, but I have one grouse. Why do people advertise what they donate? I have nothing against Bill Gates because along with donations, he personally and with his team ensures that funds are utilised efficiently. He is giving his management expertise along with the money. The team working on these projects get paid by Gate’s foundation. In case you are not aware, he donates money mainly for the eradication of diseases like AIDS, Malaria; he does this by sending expert doctors and scientists to these areas. He also negotiates and convinces pharmaceutical companies to keep their profits to reasonable levels for the medicines they buy, and not at the normal extravagant levels. By negotiations, he ensures that the money he donates reaches more people.  

I have been observing over a period the trend of donating money during national calamities like floods and earthquake people enthusiastically give by way of money and material. But do we have to advertise this by posing for photographs, while handing over the donations? Every day, I see in the newspapers individuals or group of people being photographed while handing over the money to authorities. Is there any need to publicise this?  

There are reasons to donate. You donate to charity, donate for a specific causeGiving culture is very important in our life, it boosts our morale, and it makes one feel good. It introduces children to donation culture, the importance of donation. Nobody wants to live on charity, but the circumstance in some cases force people to live on charity. Some are born in deprived family, where parents may be uneducated, sick or may have some other cause which leads them to opt to live on charity. Some people simply don’t want to take efforts of doing any work and would rather live on charity. But my judgement tells me that there would be very few people in this world who would prefer to live on charity.  

In India, the donation culture is started and pushed forward by the Marwari community. They are a business community, and there are many moneyed families. They have been donating to hospitals, the food kitchens for needy on round the year basis.  

The Sikh community has a superb method of “giving”. Sikhs perform Kar Seva; it means that people offer physical services in Gurudwaras, like cleaning, sweeping, cooking, and whatever work is available. Such services are provided by the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich. You may find a Managing Director of a company and a peon from that company sweeping floors at the Gurudwara at the same time. The basic theory behind this is that in front of Him, everybody is equal. Another system in Gurudwaras is Langar. Food is provided to all those who want to avail of the facility, irrespective of one’s social status. Jaya and I were lucky to have langar food at the Harmandir saheb in Amritsar!  

Birla family has donated crores of rupees to build beautiful Mandirs at various places in India. Unfortunately, these Mandir’s are not called Ram Mandir but Birla Mandir! I can understand a plaque being mounted, or a board hung, giving the names of large donors. But naming the structure, especially a Mandir, in the donors name does not suit my tastes.  

There is another tendency that is cropping up these days. During the calamities, thousands of people donate material, money or services. I am pleased and proud of this gesture. But every day in newspapers, photographs of families, members of organisations handing over the cheques to authorities are displayedI feel that it is incorrect to display one’s good deeds. Are you doing it for publicity? Are you donating to show off? Do you want the whole world to know that you have given funds to a cause? I don’t think it is essential. Why can such acts not be done discreetly? For someone Rs 200/ or 2000/ maybe a large sum but to me, it need not be publicised.   

Do the soldiers in the rescue operation publicise their photos, every day? Do the disaster relief team members advertise their deeds? They know that they must take over rescue operations in the time of disasters. In the same vein, it is the responsibility of people to support the way they want to, discreetly. What do you gain by printing your photos, other than a boost to your ego?  

One exciting act I have started noticing in recent times. A group of motorcycle mechanics from the Aurangabad area shut their shop for 15 days and went to the worst flood-affected areas of Sangli. They stayed put in that area for about two weeks and serviced the vehicles which could not even start as these were under floodwater for a long time. They did this work for fifteen days, free of cost! What magnanimity? Don’t forget that the mechanics earn their bread on the day to day work they get in their shops.  

There have other groups who have also offered their services free. Some of these are doctors and nursesI always say that I do not bother about political affinities. But I must praise the volunteers of the RSS who rush to spots the moment they realise the need for support. Let us not forget that these people are like you and me. They are clerks, engineers, accountants, and maybe even vegetable vendors too! But they all come under the umbrella of RSS and take the lion’s share in helping people irrespective of the caste and creed!  

I would like to share two interesting news items. During Kerala floods, the UAE government had offered a massive amount of funds to India. It is because a large number of Keralites work in UAE. But the Indian Government politely declined the aid after thanking the UAE government, saying, “We have enough funds!” 

There is always a grouse that private organisations do not do much during disaster situations. Walmart has proven everybody wrong. When there was severe flooding in New Orleans, after the storm Katrina, for the first few hours, everything was paralysed. Before US government agencies could organise rescue operations, Walmart gave instructions to their New Orleans office to use whatever was needed from their stock in New Orleans, including small boats, to be allowed to be used for rescue. For the first two full days, only Walmart team were doing the rescue operations!  

Disasters will come and go, people will help, but I hope day by day the tendency to self-publicise will come down.  






The world is my Oyster!

Adab and Namaste!

My nephew Atul used to go to the UK to work as a doctor. He would go for a small duration, and every time he went to a new place. The English spoken in each area was so different that he sometimes wondered if he knew English at all! It took him a couple of days to get used to the pronunciations. In today’s world when your whole family may live world over but for that we all must understand the nuiances of human behaviour. We should not be judgmental about other people’s ways, rituals, methods and their way of life in general. Those who assimilate faster where they go can then say, “The World is my Oyster”!

The nature of humans, their behaviour, their way of handling life is different. We have similar differences in India too! Like Marathi spoken in Pune, Satara, Kolhapur have their distinct flavours and dialects. Aurangabad and Nagpur have their own variants. It all depends on the culture prevalent in that area. Aurangabad was more connected to Hyderabad and Nagpur is still more attached to Madhya Pradesh though both are in Maharashtra.

I was wondering why this happens, and there are reasons. Many times, the culture depends on the construct of the language spoken in that area. English is by far the most flexible language and has absorbed many words from other languages, mainly from Indian languages. It makes the language more vibrant, and people can express what they want more clearly.

French usually give a vague answer to queries, and they may start with a reply which may seem negative. The reason for this is that the French language has 70000 words compared to 500000 words in English. So answers in English can be more precise, where French replies are vague. The first and most important NO in French is the one that means ‘je ne sais pas’ the ‘I have no idea’ NO. It is estimated that nearly 75% of the NOS encountered are to conceal a lack of knowledge. It likely comes from the terror of ridicule for being wrong. The word non in French has its roots in the French obsession for protests. “The French Revolution was about the irrevocable right of all citizens to refuse, and ‘non’ has a quality of ‘revanche des petits contre les grands’ [revenge of the underclasses] that seems to satisfy the inner peasant or proletarian in every French person, of any class.

The unique Indian gesture that often leaves visitors to the country flummoxed is the Indian nod. One thing all travellers to India talk about – apart from the dreaded Delhi Belly, of course – is the great Indian head nod. It’s not exactly a nod (up and down from the neck, meant to indicate ‘yes’) – or a shake (straight side to side to convey ‘no’). It’s a smooth movement that involves tilting the head from side to side vertically, either gently or fiercely. Does it mean a definite, yes? Is that a kind no? A maybe? A sign of uncertainty? Annoyance perhaps? It is difficult to say without knowledge of the context. It is almost always a ‘yes’, or at least indicates agreement. “There is also an element of being friendly or being respectful, and it is difficult to say which unless you know the situation.” Indians are brought up to be pliant and polite, especially to guests and to elders, and do not like to say ‘no’ directly. Indians mumble incoherently; smile sheepishly, and nod vaguely, all to put off making a firm commitment. Indeed, the head nod is a gesture meant to convey ambiguity and does so effectively.

Finnish people have different ways. Finns think if there’s no important topic to discuss, there’s no conversation at all. One of their national sayings is ‘Silence is gold, talking is silver’. But read the next surprising aspect of the Finnish people. With two million saunas in the country, which are enjoyed fully nude (generally gender-segregated, although that rule tends to be thrown out in the company of friends), the Finnish seem to have no problem with getting up close and personal. But when clothes are on, the bets are off. Probably they don’t look at each other much while wearing clothes and hence don’t recognise them!

Germans and their language have different ways of expressing things. Many new words get created by combining more than one word. Schadenfreude means pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune. Schadenfreude puts together schaden (harm) and freude (pleasure) – but this is common. Compound words often can’t be directly translated into other languages, so jokes made with compound words simply won’t be funny to non-German speakers. For example, look at this joke below.

“Why can’t you pick up your watch if you’ve dropped it? Because no Urheberrecht.”

It is explained that Urheberrecht means ‘copyright’ – but German has another very similarly pronounced compound word – Uhreberrecht – which has a literal meaning of ‘watch-pickup-right’. When spoken aloud, it’s the dual implication that results in a comical effect. In English, there are no such similar-sounding words, so English speaking people simply won’t understand the joke.

The German comedian Christian Schulte-Loh explains it well. Fully aware of the stereotype the Germans are labelled with, he writes in his new book, Zum Lachen auf die Insel (To England with Laughs), that Germans are too honest to be polite and the English are too polite, to be honest.

Why people behave in a certain way? Why people react in a certain way? One thing we must realise is that people world over are the same as everywhere else. The way we feel that the actions of other people as funny, other people also feel the same way about us. It is a popular notion in India to call a stingy person, Marwari! There is a reason. The Marwari people initially lived in Rajasthan in the desert region. It was the shortage of water and everything that made people care about using all resources. Now the Marwaris live all over India, they are a monied community, but their fundamental nature of minimum wastage has not changed.

I have seen that people in the Aurangabad area have a different way of communicating. People typically say namaskar whenever they meet. But in Aurangabad, I have seen people doing Adab, and their gesture is made in the way as is done in Muslim culture. Why is this so? Aurangabad is in Maharashtra. But the reason is that till ’60 s of the last century, there was no bridge on the river Godavari at Pravara Sangam. Bus from Pune would go up to the river, people crossed the river in a boat and took another bus from there to Aurangabad. Hence Aurangabad had more connection with Hyderabad, which has Muslim culture. By the way, one interesting observation. People from Aurangabad become परेशान  when they are troubled! A word typically used there.

People travel a lot these days, in India as well as abroad. I always tell friends to keep their mind open and accept what you find different in new places. Enjoy local food at those places. Go and see local plays and dances. The more we see these new things, the more we realise that people are the same all over the world!

वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् is the apt term in Sanskrit, meaning the whole world is a family!

Mahesh Bhai!

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Mahesh Kothari was the Chairman and Managing Director of Exedy India Ltd when he died on 25th  January 2017!

I must thank God that Rajendra Shitut (God bless his soul) was my classmate. I came in touch with Ceekay through Rajendra, who used to then work for Ceekay. With Rajendra, I went to Ceekay office at Nariman Point in Mumbai; at first, I met Pradeep Chinai the MD, and we just hit off. (Ceekay later became Exedy India Ltd) Then I met Mahesh Bhai; I did not know how to place Mahesh Bhai as I could see that he was different. We chatted, then he took me out for lunch, he was a little serious by nature, but I don’t know when our relationship changed to friendship and then into the family! I had become Ceekay advisor in 1981 and continued to date.  I was taking my baby steps in professional life, and Mahesh Bhai discretely guided me as if I was his younger brother.

I am so lucky that I knew him when one reads about bad things in this world, I have always wondered that when there are humans like Mahesh Bhai in this world, how the world could go wrong. He was the epitome of clarity of thoughts, softness and purpose in life; he was definitely “Clutch Man of India.” In his way, he has guided many at Aurangabad plant through their career. Desai, Medsing, Malani, Kale, Shekhar, to name a few. Mahesh Bhai had a great ability to get the right people in the right place. Most accompanied him till the end in his life’s journey.

I have seen a few professionals in my life from close, but Mahesh Bhai with his empathy, kindness raced well ahead of others though others may have been equally good technically, business acumen wise and thoroughness. He used to get a bit agitated sometimes, and he could not withstand people who were not clear in their mind. He had a great generosity to accept errors made by others. I was always amazed by his ability to know minutest of the technical details from the factory shop floor. I asked Mahesh Bhai once about this, and he smiled and said, “Pramod, I just remember such details, somehow.”

Maheshbhai would never mince words and always called a spade a spade! Once during a meeting with a senior officer of a large manufacturing unit, we were bombarded by the officer about the poor quality, even before we sat in the chair. The officer continued his diatribe without allowing us to say a word. After things cooled down a bit, I said, “Could you call your person who is handling our product at your end?” The person came and was asked to explain the quality problems of the clutches supplied by us. He said, “The problem is not with their supplies; it is there for the other vendor’s supplies.” The senior officer was ashen-faced and mumbled, “Sorry boss! I did not mean to say this. Would you have a cup of tea?” Maheshbhai got up and said, “Thanks for the offer for tea, we just had it with someone else. Please remember one thing, if you don’t mean to say something, don’t say it!”

Another excellent quality in him was humility. Once he called me early morning and gave me a piece of his mind. The general rule was, when he spoke, you would just listen. At the end of the discussion, I told him, “I will study the issue more and come back to you, but perception on this appears based on insufficient data.” After two hours, he called me again. He said, “Pramod, my apologies! I passed judgment based on insufficient data.” As a CMD he did not have to apologise, but that was Maheshbhai for you!

In another incident, we were making clutches as per customer’s design, but there were severe warranty failures. Customers engineering team would not allow us to change the design. Our efforts to convince the customer were not succeeding. We were a single source. One day in a meeting at the plant, he called me and said, “Pramod, tell that engineer who has come, that we are stopping the manufacture of this item after one week.” With his firm stand, the design was modified in two months, and the issue was resolved.

Till the  5/6 years back, Mahesh Bhai used to visit Pune regularly, and it was always a high point for me as I could spend the whole day with him. We would talk on any subject in this world. His working style was that he would never impose anything on anybody. Work just happened. All people in Tata and Bajaj had great respect for Mahesh Bhai as he would always stick to commitments and was forthright in all his dealings.

I have travelled with him from Pune to Aurangabad many times, and he used to love driving. He would always share with me the driving time. We have had many chat sessions with only two of us, at the guest house. He would share many things, he would explain many things, and for me, they were more of training sessions of life. He would care very much about his family. He was 100% family man. He was always very proud of the way his son, Saurabh, grew and matured into an excellent professional and a human being. Saurabh has also picked up a significant number of helpful things from Mahesh Bhai. Lately, when I asked Maheshbhai about his next visit to his daughter in Singapore, he would smile and say “Yes, we will go shortly”!

Aurangabad was his second home. He was so much involved in work if he needed to visit a vendor quickly, he would hop behind on some one’s bike, if required, and rush to resolve some technical issue. All the people at Aurangabad plant were his family. When someone was travelling to Japan for the first time for work, he would personally make sure that the person had the clothing, suit and vegetarian food if required. He wanted to ensure that nobody ran into unnecessary trouble in a foreign country.

Mahesh’s presence for my family functions was always assumed. He would find time in his busy schedule. He always knew small nuances of so many things, Jaya and I would still be amazed. Mahesh, Nauka and two of us have had a few dinners together, and he was a fun person in a small private group. I last met him in Diwali when Jaya and I went to be with him. In spite of his body not supporting him, he, as usual, had very pointed questions about, work and my health (unfortunately both of us had similar health issues on which we exchanged notes), my children. He asked me when we were leaving and how we were going to Pune. When I told him I am taking eastern free-way via Crawford market, he, of course, knew the more straightforward way through Prarthana Samaj. But I never knew that it would be his last guidance to me in life!

We will always ask this question to ourselves with moistened eyes, why Mahesh Bhai had to go early! If Mahesh Bhai had been around and if we were discussing someone’s death, Mahesh Bhai the pragmatic would have told me, “Pramod, टाईम आता है तो जाना पडता है. (if your time has come you have to go)”

Society Living!

First things first! My sincere apologies to my friends who read this blog yesterday! I was trying the WordPress site on my cell phone; after finishing a couple of paragraphs, I inadvertently pressed the “Publish” button.  The incomplete blog got published. I am now completing my blog; I am sure that those who read it were surprised, but can reread it if they want to!

The modern life has created a new way of living together, cooperative societies, condos or colonies. The concept started taking off in ’70 s of the last century. The idea is kicking and alive. In Mumbai before this was “Chawls” where people lived and in Pune there were “Wadas”. The main thing common in those structures was common toilets. Some homes had bathing places within the homes, and others used a small washing area in kitchens as a place to take a bath. I am now old enough to talk of “Olden Days” or “When I was young”. But I have realised over a period that each era had its fun and difficulties, joys and sorrows. I will meander through these times and share some incidents, anecdotes or narratives.

Now with several people migrating all over India, all the new societies have become mini India’s. These homes have become “homes away from homes”. The neighbours replace relatives, and people celebrate festivals from all religions and areas of India. We see cosmopolitanism at its best!  Later another wave of migration starts and parents of the young ones move in with their children. You have kity parties, Daru parties, senior citizen parties, kids having fun together.  The evenings are full of gala times, and many children are seen playing physical games and remain away from screens of all types. All in all, these are modern mini villages!

The first home I remember was in Mumbai, at Dhobi Talao behind Metro. It was a six-story building. All were two-bedroom flats, and each had its bath and washroom areas like in flats. My father worked for the police force, and the flats were rented by the Government from the owner. The name of the building was Gopal Mansion! We kids had a real time in those days. A fascinating thing happened in the life of Gopal Mansion.

A few years back, S.M.D Charitable trust purchased this building and converted it into a very neat and clean low-cost living facility for people who travel from outside Mumbai for the medical treatment of their near and dear ones. There are many hospitals around this area, and the people get to stay in Gopal Mansion for supporting people under medication and treatment.

Later when I bought my properties, those were in the Societies or Condos. The experience of living and interacting with people is fascinating. I have lived my life after education, in Pune. Shortage of water is common in most areas. In one of the societies, we had severe water shortage. The committee decided to call a plumber and get every water connection in all houses checked. The society consisted of 120-row houses/ townhouses with interconnected terraces for a group of home. One of the persons simply refused to allow checking of his taps on the terraces. One enterprising person suggested that we could go to his terrace from the next house. The tap in his water tank was leaking and water flowing all the time. Leakage must have happened for quite some time, as a lot of Moss had grown up in that area! So much for responsible, educated citizens! He was fined heavily!

In the city of Aurangabad, one fancy condo complex came up, and the homes were quite expensive. It was expected that people would have two cars and a couple of scooters. The facility was provided for these numbers. One guy had 16 cars, either BMW’s or Mercedes! He would park all of them on the premises. There used to be minor disputes on the subject, but recently a dispute blew into something huge. People got embroiled and had fist fights followed by police complaints. Next part is interesting. People had doubts about 16 cars and all and were not sure what business he used to run. Complaints were made to the Election Officer that person is handling cash for distribution in the ongoing elections. There were counter complaints. At the end, when the police came, they found out that the person was already in jail for some other reason! Let me tell you from my experience that the committee is going to find it very difficult to handle this person.

In another society where I have a condo, there lives a known bad element. I don’t live there. I am told that the person uses the house for nefarious activities; he probably runs a high end escorting service. On top of this, initially, whenever he entered the society, he would come brandishing a gun! (In India, Gun laws are extremely stringent!) The committee team went and met him, and they requested him not to display his gun, at least! Luckily he agreed to it! He does not pay his monthly subscription on time! Recently, a committee member saw his car in the society. (the person does not live there) By the time a few people came together (for obvious reasons they meet him in a group!) he was gone! Who will bell the cat?

In another society where I used to live, the nasty person used to live. He was hands in glove with the builder! In the initial phase when the builder used to handle day to day work, this person used to take his cut on money collected from members. During cooperative society formation, he used to help the builder by sharing details of internal meetings with the builder. When he sold his home, he made sure that the society would be required to go into litigation for the money that was due during the transfer! He used to steal diesel purchased to run the generators!

In another society, there was a funny incident. The usual water shortage was tackled by some people coming together to go to each home for checking the leaking taps! While they were doing the checking, they found out that one of the taps in a home was leaking heavily. The lady of the house was suitably embarrassed and immediately got it repaired. The funny part was that the lady was part of the group who were volunteering to do the checking. How can one miss such leakages is a mystery to me!

I know of a person, living in an independent bungalow. He was the maintenance in charge of a large engineering plant! Whenever we went to his house, we would always find taps having serious leakage. He used an ancient 50-year pump (maybe installed by his father) to pump water into the main tank!

My observation is that people have been learning to live in modern homes but have to share responsibilities. One important aspect is that you cannot choose your neighbour! Secondly in modern careers, people travel outside India for work and look for better and better facilities. But they forget that costs are involved and many times pay reluctantly, though they have high double incomes, sometimes. Most are becoming mature but now main issue that comes to the fore is their egos! There are unnecessary disputes and fights just to satisfy egos! But all in all, it is fun to live in these modern villages or towns tucked away in major cities! Merging of languages and citizens for various places in India happens very smoothly.

Salute to common, modern “Society Living!”

How are you doing today?

Years back, when I travelled to the US for the first time, whenever we went  in shops or malls, a question was always asked, “How are you doing today?” Honestly, we were never used to being asked such a question. After a few days, we got used to it and would reply, “Oh, I am doing good. How are you doing?” Beyond that generally, there was no further discussion.  

If you look at this simple sentence and its effects on day to day basis, these are unbelievable. Consider a scenario at an office. There are workers, staff, managers, bosses and the boss. Every person who comes to the office, goes to his or her place of work and starts working, no hi or hello! Work gets done, and at the end of the day, people will go home. But this is not life; whenever you meet someone, even unknown person, you say hello or equivalent (こんにちは, नमस्कार, Hola) depending on the language of communication. Someone may ask, “How was your weekend?” or “How is your wife, has she recovered from flu?” Such discussion brings people together, and you feel that you belong! This sense of belonging is what brings people closer personally or formally.  

The sense of belonging makes a big difference to organisations. Every day when you come out of bed, you must feel that you want to go office as many things have to be done. If you go to the office as compulsion, work becomes a formality. Your efficiency and productivity remain average.  

I will share with you a story of the Chairman of a large company in Pune. In the company, they used to have a meeting once a month which 25 senior officers from the company attended. Last half an hour of the meeting was reserved for a brief one on one meeting with each of the officer. The Chairman knew details about these officer’s family and would ask questions about their welfare. I understand that similar practice continues and now the chairman’s son handles the meetings. I know many people who worked for this organisation, and they always have good things to say about the company.  

I will share a story about Mr Sharad Pawar. Mr Pawar is a senior leader in Indian politics, has been chief minister of the state of Maharashtra. There are a lot of controversies about his wheeling and dealing, but this is the way politics works. I will not go into those details. He has a fantastic relationship with many people in Maharashtra. Years back he was travelling from Pune to Aurangabad, about 240 km distance. 100 km from Aurangabad one the cars in his convoy had a flat tyre. All the vehicles stopped for the change of tyre. Everybody got out for fresh air. Some people in the area saw Mr Pawar, and within ten minutes about fifty people came out to meet him. Within no time this number increased to a hundred. People came there with some Roti, Dal, Juice, buttermilk and what have you. It was an unplanned stop, but Mr Pawar had an excellent rapport with the people in that area. He started chatting with those people. He asked someone how your younger daughter is? Are her marital issues resolved? To someone else, he asked if he had settled his land dispute. He said to another person that he came to know about that person’s father’s death, he gave his condolences. It was an unbelievable site to see his rapport with the people in those years; the team was forced to spend almost two hours before they could restart their journey. That is how people loved him 

This incident took place in a remote area of interior Maharashtra, and it was unplanned, but the event turned out to like a festival for those people because their beloved leader was among them. Hats off to him for a terrific public relations and contacts. His tag line must be “How are you doing today?”  

Connecting with others is an art but can also be looked at, as a scientific method. 

Positive Intent 

First and foremost, when someone comes to meet you, or you go to meet someone, show a positive intent. The opening remark could be, the Hey, looks like there is an issue, let us solve it, or there is an issue, and this is what I have in mind. Should we  brainstorm?” This type of opening statement will bring positivity into the atmosphere. 

Unsure, it’s ok 

You can be hesitant, and it is ok to be uncertain. Nobody is born with solutions to all wrongs in the world. When asked you may say, “I am not sure, let me think about it. When do you think this needs to be resolved? Let’s meet today at 4 pm.” That person has come to you because probably he is also not sure. It’s ok to be unsure occasionally. 

Be open-minded to listen 

A person comes to you and starts telling you something. Sometimes it so happens that you have understood most of what the person has said. But don’t start an argument with him nor should you persuade the person to do it differently. It is possible that the person is using you as a sounding board. Unless you are asked to comment or suggest, only  listen.  

Take any opportunity to connect 

It is imperative to get in touch with everybody at each available opportunity. A sentence like, “You always look fresh, what is your secret?” makes a big difference. Make a comment about the achievements of the people from your colleagues family. But be careful to comment if you are a male, connecting with a female colleague. Be a little cautious and you may not talk about her dress or her looks or hairstyle! She may not feel comfortable.  

I want to share with you a story about the effect of saying, “How are you doing today?” In cold storage, one lady was working in the second shift. She would always say to the security person, “Hey, how are you doing today?” She would always add a sentence or two, every day. On the weekend, everyone was in a hurry to rush home. When the last person left, the security person said to his colleague, “Where is our fine lady? She looked delighted when she spoke to me today.” He told his colleague that he would go inside and check. At a remote corner in the cold storage, the lady had fallen and was unconscious. He picked  her up and rushed her to a hospital. Next day when he went to see her, the doctor profusely thanked the guard for his quick action. The doctor said, “Another hour or so and the lady would have died. Now she is stable.” 

Stay in touch, stay involved! In the ’50 s of the last century, Voice of America radio station operated out of Sri Lanka. Their tag line was, “If you see someone without a smile, give him one of yours!”