Life experience 1: When I passed out from school, my father got me a motorbike because of my performance during the 12th board exams ( thought my mother would often argue that it should read as in spite of my performance in the board exams….we have all been there ). I was thrilled and I had made plans how I would use the bike, which route I could take, who were the potential friends that I could team up with and so on. The other motivation was that my brother commutes to office on a Bajaj Chetak scooter, so it would be great if I could go to office on my bike. I would ever get a one up on him because bikes were considered cooler that scooters. Then came the hammer blow when my mother told me that I had to go to college in the first year by bus, because my brother had done so and so should you. My whole world shattered around me as the images of me sitting on the bike, majestically going to college, were replaced by ones with me with a backpack hanging on the footboard of the bus which tool me to college.
Life experience 2: I had gone to visit my friend a couple of days back and he was having a very engaging conversation with his son. Here is the gist of it.
Son: Dad, I want a cricket bat
Father: I thought you didn’t like outdoor sports, how come this sudden love for the cricket bat.
Son: because I love cricket and I want to play with my friends.
Father: ( obviously puzzled ) How come this sudden change of heart? Is it because India won the world cup?
Son: No no, my friend’s father bought him a new Reebok bat and I also want one so that I can show it to my friends.
Life experience 3: One of the employees in my organisation walked up to me the other day and said that, hey I want to talk to you. I said sure, please come in and lets talk. He was arguing about how he is paid very low and how he is not able to meet ends because of his low salary. I thought maybe there was merit in his argument, I also felt that he may be slightly underpaid as far the salary is concerned but probably not in the way that he was making it out to be. As I went further into the discussion, I figured that he was making this point because he had come to know that a friend of his had got a 25% increase in salary while he got only a 10% increase in salary. The conversation lasted for an hour and the last 40 minutes were spent on what the other had and he didn’t have in terms of money, opportunities and etc.
In my decade of experience as a working professional, there have been many ups and downs. All of us go through that. When I sit down today and look at my upsets and other’s upsets that I have encountered, I was always able to bring it down to one particular area. Haves and Have nots. The disparity seemed to exist right from our childhood and gets ingrained in every facet our growing up that, even as adults we seem to base our decisions on what you don’t have and what others have. When you look at every physical possession that you have today, be it a TV, a computer, a laptop etc, there is a big chance that the” Neighbour’s envy, Owner’s pride” syndrome will have been a consideration. By saying the above, i am referring to purely materialistic possessions and not spiritual concepts.In all the above experiences, the battle is one of having vs not having.
In organisations as managers and leaders, this is a conversation that we need to have very frequently with people. People comes to us not necessarily because you are expected to give a solution, but all of us need to listen. Below are some things we can keep in mind while having these conversations.
- Listen for the real reasons: Often when a person comes to you with an issue, you will realise what the person says and what the person’s real issue is are very different. This is the crux to the conversation. As you keep peeling the layers in the onion, to get to the core, you will realise the core is white while the colour of the skin is pink. Keep asking questions till you are able to get to the actual reasons.
- Stick to the facts: When people come to you wanting to have the have not conversation with you, they often tend to mix up facts with perceptions. Encourage them to separate the two. For example: In the life experience three, the employee was referring to the fact that the other person had got 25% salary increase, he was also poorly paid and hence he also deserved the salary increase. The fact there are other factors that are taken into account while deciding the salary increase does not exist in the individual’s world. We need to help people to decipher the same.
- Confront reality: This is probably the hardest thing for people to do. Getting people to confront realities is a very important aspect of having this conversation. Telling someone why he or she does not deserve a reward demands you to have tremendous courage and conviction. This needs to be done, for without this, there will always be a sense of mirage around them.
- Encourage a 360 degree view: When the person comes to you with a have not conversation, understand the real reasons and then start focussing on the haves. In my friend’s son’s case, he was reasoning with his son saying that you already have a tennis racket, a badminton racket, when are you going to use them. First start using them, then you can definitely have a cricket bat also. His son was disappointed, but he understood and went away without a fuss. Get people to see areas that they may be blind and focus on the haves.
- Empower them with action: Use the ” Power is Yours” concept. Close the conversation by letting the people know that whatever action that they want to take, is in their hands. If someone wants to get more money, they need to contribute more, prove their worth, overcome their shortcomings etc. If there is merit in their conversation, then see what you can do about it and work with them on their action plans. Ending the conversation by making them feel empowered will lead to the individual feeling that it is in their hands.
Too often we tend to focus on what we do not have rather than what we have. Let us become aware of what we have, focus on that and share the same with others. Remember that at the end of the day, if we have made a difference to one person’s life, you have made the day of several others as well.
The power is yours!!!