Know Your Attitude

Words: Dr Rajgopal NIDAMBOOR

Every workplace has a whole host of policies and procedures. They are in place not because they ought to be there, but because they are formulated in a manner that the company deems fit — for its functioning and also for achieving its business objectives.

First, and foremost, you should try to understand them without prejudice. It would be wrong to jump to conclusions without really knowing what they are — hastily.

You need to also remember that if you are asked to devise an office procedure just do it by all means. And, also share your ideas and knowledge.

However, the moment a procedure is set in place, make it your policy not to carry negative thoughts in your mind.

This will present you in good light — one who has respect for office etiquette, or protocol, and also one’s superiors — from the person you report to directly and to others at the apex. More than anything else, your dignified behaviour will also reveal that you are a good team player, not one who carries personal predispositions with them.

One of the most glaring mistakes people do is making unkind remarks of one’s own company. If you ever do this, it will only reflect your personality in bad light.

Managing Issues 

Suppose you don’t agree with a certain policy; that’s fine. You have every right to have your own opinion. Only thing is make sure that you don’t unduly influence others who understand, in their own way, the policies which are in use. You could, on the contrary, tell them how best they can work with them, provided you have something constructive to offer on the subject.

You should not find fault in people who may not understand things as quickly as you, perhaps, do. Or, when your colleagues have certain issues with certain policies — don’t get swayed, or sway them.

Also, you should not take sides — you need to be positive. It’s, however, perfectly all right for you to tell them that you identify with their problem — you could also tell them what you can, perhaps, do. Only thing is you should not use this as a prop to declare your own observations on procedures.

Suppose you want to stand behind a perspective as regards a policy, in question, do so by all means. But, don’t make someone feel that you are not going the distance with them. Think of flexibility to accommodate ideas, if not opinions alone.

This isn’t easy, but you can make others feel that you are a genuine sort, with good intentions, which you are. Also, don’t go overboard — there is no need to compromise too. Think of the options you may have in front of you. When you are convinced that you have done your homework, go further along the road, explore better avenues, and try to accommodate things in their best possible perspective.

Things To Do 

  • First listen. Don’t jump to conclusions, because what you may see on the surface may not be something that lies beneath
  • Communicate clearly. It is rightly said that communication begins only when you “pin your ears back,” or are willing to listen
  • Take a few deep breaths. Relax, sit back. Listen to get into the heart of every point-of-view available. You will sure get something to chew on, and also think deeply
  • Chip in at the meeting, only if you have something worthwhile to say. There is reason for this. Remember, just because one has an opinion, it does not mean that one has the knowledge to make a useful remark at the drop of a thought. Also remember — nobody expects you to be the know-all and end-all, or conversely a dumb person, who knows nothing beyond the exterior
  • Never ever avoid asking a question — if you have a logical, or valid, question. One is, after all, not supposed to know everything, every time. We are all not Einsteins at the workplace
  • Never be under a spell or illusion — that you can somehow manage to wriggle out of a situation. Know your beans, and tell that you do not know if you don’t. It takes a great deal of guts to admit what you don’t know. People will not chuckle at you for that; they will respect you for it
  • Seek clarification — you will get an explanation without rippling any feathers.
  • Face criticism with poise and civility
  • Do not get overawed, and feel out of tune with yourself — if you do, you will send the wrong signal
  • The way you handle criticism — either way, giving or taking — will convey a strong message. It will speak of your professional decorum and confidence.

Grip Criticism Well

It sure isn’t easy to handle criticism, but if you manage to hold them well there will be more than just acknowledgment coming your way.

To cull Sue Fox’s advice from Business Etiquette For Dummies, this is what you should do when giving criticism:

  • Avoid anger and irrelevant detail
  • Criticise only when necessary to improve performance
  • Criticise privately, politely, precisely, and promptly.

What about receiving criticism, you may well ask. Here goes Fox’s advice, again —

  • Be professional and accept responsibility.
  • Respond politely
  • Keep your response to criticism positive and appropriate.

There are a few more pointers that you would do well to follow:

  • Do not question others in front of a party not involved in the discussion. If you do, for whatever reason, you will not only look insensitive, but you will also put people on their guard
  • The best thing you’d do is to take them to one side and bring up the subject quietly. You could sure invent a line and tell them that you felt something which was not what they thought, and that you have a few points to share, or offer, that could be of some use in the situation. This will sure go well, and also help defuse a tight situation
  • On the other hand, if your senior, or superior, criticises you in front of others, you may quietly tell them that the issue could be discussed later and in its specificity.

Not Easy. But Doable

It is agreed that taking or giving criticism isn’t the most enjoyable of tasks. It is most often a hapless invite to dissent. It is also quite like the middle-order batsman trying to bring solidity to the innings after the sudden fall of a couple of early wickets.

It not only tests your composure and behaviour skills, but can also raise questions about whether you are good or not-good-enough in handling situations.

Puzzled — don’t you worry. There’s help available. It is this — the best thing one could do in any given, or not given, situation is to place oneself in the other person’s shoes.

It is a simple, but profound, strategy that can wriggle you out of a tight situation before you get into a dilemma. It could also help you and others maintain dignity at the workplace.

Dr RAJGOPAL NIDAMBOOR, PhD, is a wellness physician-writer-editor, independent researcher, critic, columnist, author and publisher. His published work includes hundreds of newspaper, magazine, web articles, essays, meditations, columns, and critiques on a host of subjects, eight books on natural health, two coffee table tomes and an encyclopaedic treatise on Indian philosophy. He is Chief Wellness Officer, Docco360 — a mobile health application/platform connecting patients with Ayurveda, homeopathic and Unani physicians, and nutrition therapists, among others, from the comfort of their home — and, Editor-in-Chief, ThinkWellness360.

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