Sunday, June 25, 2017

First Day, First Show

The first day of the first job is as good as the first day of driving classes. You don’t know much about the process, the systems, the expectations or your abilities. However, you want to learn and you know that this is a time bound exercise. The first job is a test of sorts and a pace-setter for many careers. The first job needs a different approach. This approach is subjective and depends on aspects like organizational culture, reporting structure and role requirements.

The first day of the first job is an excellent opportunity to create a great first impression. Small things like reaching office on time, being well-mannered and wearing the right dress do matter. But these cannot be major differentiators. Qualities like the ‘Right attitude’, ‘Being proactive’ and ‘Attention-to-detail’ can be major factors in giving you the ‘edge’ over others. Your first day at work can lead to many perceptions. Hence, you have to be a little observant and careful. Giving the right signals to the reporting head and your colleagues is essential. Ensure that your appetite for learning is high and noticed. This will facilitate the right flow of information at the right time. Be willing to go the extra mile and assist others at office, work that extra hour if needed and let people know that you are eager to adapt to the new environment. Understand the expectations that people have from your role. It’s also important to balance the excitement of a new place and new role with that of sordid ground realities and responsibilities. Another critical part is making connections. Talk to people and make friends with them. You can never underestimate the power of someone’s assistance and help. You need to know a lot of people who know a lot of people in order to be ‘heard’ in an organization, especially the ones with a rigid hierarchy.

Make friends at the workplace. You might spend nine hours or more every day at office. That is nearly equal to the time you spend with your family. Staying happy at the workplace, socializing, and having ‘company’ at the company can help you contribute. However, a bell of caution needs to be sounded. Ensure you don’t end up doing work for friends as a matter of routine. You could get stressed out. But do help people. Don’t get too emotionally attached to your friends and your company. This may strain you mentally. Know that you cant keep all the people happy, all the time. Your current relationship with the company maybe ‘simple’. It just takes some minor incidents/events to make it ‘complicated’. Finally, fight for your right and claim credit where it’s due. You have to blow your own trumpet. That’s essential because many people are busy claiming credit even when they have contributed the least. Hence, be ‘heard’ and be ‘seen’ in the right places at the right times to the right people. Don’t wait to be discovered. Be assertive, be benefited. One last thing, wear a smile! That’s your sun-screen and windshield in the office environment. While these nuggets of ‘gyaan’ may not be comprehensive guide to succeeding at your workplace, they will take you long way and help you meet your aspirations. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Basic Communication Skills

Several students come to me and request me to help them improve their written communication skills and oral communication skills. There is no shortcut that can make anyone a great communicator instantly. Improving your communication requires dedicated efforts and a great deal of persistence. However, there is a list of things that can be done to improve written communication skills and oral communication skills.

Improving Written Communication Skills:
1) Read more: One of the greatest learning tools to enhance your writing skills is ‘reading’. Read more books and start by reading books with easy language. Some authors who write ‘easy reads’ could be a good starting point. Ex: Chetan Bhagat’s books may be good for people who are not used to reading much. As you progress you can select books and authors according to your area of interest. This can also help you enhance your writing skills.
2) Start writing a blog: Writing a blog can be an interesting exercise and requires minimal effort. You can start a blog and start writing about this that you are passionate about. You can exercise some caution to ensure that you are regular, with regard to writing blogs. Start by blogging 300- 350 words every week and increase the frequency and volume of writing as you become more proficient.
3) Present your work for review: Ask your friends, faculty members, and other writers/bloggers to review your writing. This will be helpful in understanding your mistakes and errors. You can correct these errors and progress stage by stage.
4) Write in small chunks: You can start writing small paragraphs with few sentences and work towards bigger paragraphs. For instance, you could start by writing merely 75 words or 100 words per paragraph. This will give you psychological comfort and motivate you to write more.

5) Experiment with different forms of writing: Different people love different kinds of writing. Try different genres of writing and discover what you like writing. Ex: Some people love writing poetry whereas some others love prose. Some people like writing good E-mails. Some people are comfortable writing small articles. Hence, experiment by trying different forms of writing.
6) Ask experts to review your writing: Once you are confident about your writing, present what you have written to the experts. Those who have written books, articles in newspapers etc. can be instrumental in helping you with the minor nuances of writing like flow, sequencing etc.
7) Use websites that can help you correct your grammar and spellings: There are several websites that can help you improve your writing in terms of grammar, spellings and context. Some of them are:

8) Use thesaurus to enhance your vocabulary: Thesaurus gives you a list of synonyms and hence, helps you improve your vocabulary. Therefore, it’s advisable to buy a thesaurus or install an app that gives you a list of synonyms and meanings.
9) Join Writing Clubs/Writing Groups:  There are several writing clubs at universities, colleges and also on online forums like FB, Meetup etc. Become a member of any these clubs.
10) Make it a habit: Make ‘writing’ a habit. Establish a routine and schedule for writing and related activities. Also attend literature festivals and events related to writing.

Improving your Oral Communication Skills:
1) Start by Starting: Take initiative and grab opportunities to communicate. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Ensure that you participate in class presentations, group discussions, debates and extempore elocution events. Never hesitate to go on stage and perform. You get used to things, by getting used to things that precede the things. Be confident.
2) Watch movies: Movies are great entertainers and learning tools. Watch one English movie every week. Check for “Must watch Hollywood Movies”, “Best Movies of All Time” etc to know what movies you should watch. You can also ask your friends who are movie bluffs. Movies like ‘The Great Debaters’, ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ etc can teach you many lessons.

3) Communicate with your friends in English: Please communicate with your friends and classmates in English. Make it a practice that you speak to your friends and classmates in English. Don’t use your mother tongue unless absolutely necessary.
4) Mirror Talk: Presenters, TV show hosts, celebrities use the technique of ‘mirror talk’.  Talk to your mirror image for a few minutes every day to build confidence and understand where you lack.
5) Record: Use your smartphone to record rehearsed speeches and short talks. You can review the video to check for errors and mistakes. You can also share the video with people who are very good at oral communication and get feedback.
6) Read Out Aloud: Read books aloud, so that you can work on your pronunciation and diction. When you read out aloud, you also realize the words that you are unfamiliar with.
7) Watch TV Debates: TV Debates can also be instrumental in helping you improve your oral communication skills. For: NDTV's 'The Big Fight' and Times Now's 'Newshour Debate' can help you improve your oral communication skills. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016


Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
-Winston Churchill-

The dictionary meaning of criticism is “the expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived faults or mistakes”. It clearly means that criticism is subjective. Healthy criticism is one of the most underrated skills at workplace. Let’s accept the fact that most people don’t like to be criticized and hence criticizing other people is a tough job. In fact, successful managers are always good at healthy criticism. They convince people to change in an amicable manner. ‘What you say’ and ‘how you say it’ becomes important and critical when it relates to criticism. Colleagues who engage in healthy criticism are regarded as good mentors and guides. Giving and receiving feedback at the workplace is essential for continuous improvement and progress of the team. This is an integral part of workplace dynamics. However, the objective of criticism should always be improvement or development. Any criticism to be deemed healthy needs to fulfill a few conditions-

1.    It should be aimed at a process/ event and not a person. Using criticism to target someone personally just goes on to speak volumes about the intention and attitude of the criticizer.
2.    ‘Praise in public and criticize in private’. Criticism is always more acceptable when it’s accompanied by reasoning, logic and justification. Hence, it’s always better to have a one-on –one conversation when you can do it.
3.    Criticism should not be used as a tool to belittle other people. It should be used as a tool for improvement.
4.    ‘Practice before you preach’: Criticize others when you are confident that you have yourself practiced it. Never advocate what you don’t follow. It’s a matter of credibility and substance.
5.    Contextualize and customize criticism: Just like gifts, criticism needs to be customized and contextualized to ensure better acceptance.
Choose the words you use to criticize very carefully. The words you use may affect someone psychologically. There is a certain intensity that every word carries with itself. They also set the “tone” of the conversation. Many a time, people are very casual with regard to the words they use to criticize others. Criticism should also be timed adequately in order to ensure that it is fruitful. People expect credibility from the person who criticizes. When you criticize others you need to have appropriate KSA’s (Knowledge, Skills and Attitude) relating to the matter of criticism. This lends the ‘credibility’ factor and makes criticism from you more acceptable. For example, you cannot criticize someone for poor body language when you do not display good body language. These are minute details which are neglected in several cases. It’s also important to understand that criticism in itself does not serve any purpose completely. It needs to be supplemented with instances, guidance and improvement plans. This completes the loop of the criticism process and makes criticism successful. Therefore, the next time you are about to criticize someone, think twice!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

'What to do' in Bengaluru?

Bengaluru attracts a huge number of students and employees from different parts of the country and is known for several good things including the weather. Many a time, people ask me, "What's special about Bengaluru?" . There are hundreds of interesting things to do at Bengaluru and hundreds of places to visit as well. But then, some things just stand out and qualify to become the "must do things at Bengaluru". They are:

1) Enjoy the local cuisine in at some iconic eateries like MTR and Vidyarthi Bhavan. (Try the Masala Dosa and the Rava Idli which are a specialty offering)
2) Visit the Lal Bagh and Cubbon Park to breathe in some fresh air and enjoy the serene atmosphere. The Cubbon Park also houses a huge library with a great collection of books.
3) Visit the 'Food Street' at V.V. Puram and taste some of the best snacks and the great variety of food stuff.
4) Visit the “Art of Living’ International Center located on the Kanakapura Road to get a glimpse of some brilliant architecture and the global spirituality super store.
5) Let yourself loose at Wonderla, one of India’s best amusement parks, located close to Bidadi.
6) Visit Innovative Film City, to click some wonderful pictures which would easily qualify to be your whatspp DP or facebook profile picture.
7) Engage in go-karting at Patel’s Inn, RT Nagar or visit Dirt Mania on Kanakapura Road for some hardcore outdoor adventure.
8) If you are a nightlife enthusiast or looking out for a quick drink, visit one of the numerous pubs/bars like ABC, Skyee, High, Toit or 3 Monkeys.
9) Go watch the sunrise and some breath-taking views at the Nandi Hills. You could also take a wine tour on the foothills of Nandi Hills, adding to the overall experience.
10) Watch a play at Rangashankara/Alliance francaise and get a truly amazing theatrical treatise. You can get the play details on Bookmyshow for most of the plays being staged at Rangashankara/Alliance francaise.
11) Go shopping at Commercial Street and Chikpet and shop for pocket friendly clothing and accessories.
12) An evening stroll on MG Road/Brigade Road and a visit to ‘Rangoli’- The Metro Art Center and dinner at Hard Rock cafĂ© could be the perfect end to your day.
13) Visit ISKON/Infant Jesus Church for some soul searching and God Company.
14) Participate in one of the several marathons/walkathons organized very frequently at Bengaluru
15) Visit the various shopping malls (UB City/Orion Mall/Phoenix Market City et al) / indoor gaming destinations like Amoeba.
16) If you are a frequent buyer of electronic devices, visit S.P Road.
17) Visit Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum/ Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium/ HAL museum for some scientific and technological knowledge up gradation.
18) Visit the Bannerghatta National Park and sight the white tiger and various other magnificent animal folk.

Well that’s just a minute list and we could just keep adding to the list and the magnificence of  Bengaluru! 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Before the New Year Resolution, A little bit of Old Year Introspection

Its 31st December again, and New Year Resolutions are in vogue! But then, this is so much like performance management systems in companies. Mostly it’s a documentation exercise. And this scheme of setting New Year Resolutions is supposed to be even more customized, precise and acceptable. How do we know if it’s working? The answer lies in having an ‘Old year Introspection’ exercise. This is designed to purge out the blocks and hurdles which creep in and prevent us from living life to its fullest.
And in this post I try to suggest a framework for this purpose. While it may sound strange, it does work. It’s a simple format and you may require only 10 minutes carrying out this exercise. Remember, don’t fake it and don’t get defensive with your-self.

Top 5
Top 3
Top 5 Goals/Resolutions you had for 2014:
Top 5 Achievements of 2014:

Top 5 Disappointments of 2014:

User Guidelines:
1)      Do not fabricate facts or sound nice, be brutally frank. It’s a self-evaluation exercise.
2)      Apply the ‘test of logic’ when in doubt.
3)      The maximum time you should devote to this exercise is 20 minutes.
4)      Follow-up this exercise with a ‘New Year Resolution’.
5)      Have no regrets. Regrets don’t yield results.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Selfie: A Socio-psychological phenomenon


Wikipedia states that selfie is ‘a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone’. This is usually shared on social networking sites, displayed as the propfile pic, used as memorabilia and so on. While I have nothing against the trend itself, I am surely worried about the manifestations of selfie. We now have so many categories in selfies, like welfies, romfies, groupfies, abfie, celebfie and God knows whatfie. This trend has slowly become a norm and may evolve become an obessesion for many, considering the pace at which this trend is catching up across generations and geographies. Higher penetration of smartphones into the market has contributed to the popularization of the trend.
I do appreciate the merits of taking selfies of all kinds and I have myself taken some selfies in different contexts. But then, I abhor the addiction that some people have with the selfies concept and strongly feel that this maybe more of a social aberration. While we may want to show our wild, funny, cute, naughty, hot, cool or crazy side to the world, selfies may not always be the best option to choose. In fact hoax news that APA had declared selfie-obsession as a mental disorder went viral in minutes and had thousands of people search for the same on the internet. This speaks volumes about how people view the selfie phenomenon. In fact, selfies could be veering towards narcissism, which preoccupation with self and others perception of self. Read this:,
to get a sense of the evolution of selfies and to understand one of the categorizations of selfies. It’s not just about ‘selfies’ per se’, but the frequency, the reasoning, the usage and the acceptance of ‘selfies’ as a mode of self-expression. Smartphone manufacturers are busy ‘cashing’ on this trend and making it more ‘sexy’, its or the youth to examine the ‘sanity’ of the process and the trend. While I don’t wish that selfies go away (I do really appreciate/like the Katrina Kaif selfies ;), but rapid repetition kills the fun’). So, go ahead, take the selfie, edit it, gaze at it, admire it, but before posting on social media sites, just check the ‘quantity’ criterion too. And yes, don’t forget to capture the dimple/the pout/the side-lock/the muscle/the wink/the eyes. Lest the selfie gets less than a hundred likes on FB ;) and strays from meeting the ‘quality’ criteria..