Sometime last month, a colleague of mine pinged me to get my opinion about his latest predicament.  Inadvertently, another colleague’s conversations were available to him. 

Those interactions were not exactly flattering, which made him a bit upset and was contemplating next course of action. When the gist of those materials were revealed to me, I could only laugh.  Because I felt those opinions were not the complete truth and mostly blabbering of insecure minds.

How often we feel that our work is not appreciated enough and that our bosses have a bias towards somebody that doesn’t deserve the good things they are receiving?  I benefit from such mentoring conversations with different people as it helps me to deeply reflect on my behavior and thought process. It is my practice to appreciate and acknowledge the behavior and outcomes that I consider to be worthy of praise.  This not only makes a person’s day but also fosters the kind of culture managers want to build in their teams.

However, it is easy for such things to be misconstrued as most believe they are already doing a fine job and their efforts are not being appreciated enough.  We tend to compare and believe the recognitions, position and monetary benefits don’t commensurate with our efforts.

Though it is impossible to please everybody all the time, I have realized that there is a lot of scope for improvement for me in this aspect.  Somehow, under the garb of setting high standards, managers tend to miss opportunities to make people feel valued and appreciated.  What would one lose by acknowledging and appreciating small accomplishments and improvements?  It could propel someone to aim for even bigger things to achieve.  Yes, false praise is detrimental but such kind gestures certainly helps to build one’s self esteem and contribute to their growth. 

Our mind in its constant chatter tends to dish out many unsavory thoughts as well.  Being mindful in those times will stop us from spreading negativity by talking about it with others.  It is easy for the mind to indulge in small talks and speak ill of others.  Instead of taking inspiration from a situation, the mind focuses on the easier route of criticism than reflecting on improving our knowledge and efforts.  Perhaps it is the hard path which every mind goes through before overcoming this toxicity.  I am guilty of such behavior too, may be to a different degree over the years.  My evolution in this has been from ignorance to innocence to over analysis of a situation and then to surrender.  Most often I attribute my growth to Swamiji and maturity that comes with age, experience and reflection. 

I asked my colleague if he considered any of those comments made towards him and me as their former manager had any element of truth in them?  He was certain that those weren’t any close to the reality.  Then I also shared my observations and instances which were in line with his assessment.  This made him realize that the problem wasn’t entirely with him but with those perceiving minds.  But he did learn how even simple lack of mindfulness or wrong choice of words can influence others opinion.  People who already have a fixed mindset will not be convinced no matter what you do. 

But what is in our control is keeping our conduct impeccable and intentions noble.  Eventually they will see the truth and overcome their negativity.  I feel it is the duty of any mindful person to let people evolve and grow out of their cocoon and not get flustered with their struggles.  With this it is even possible to feel empathy for their state of mind and may propel us to take measure to help them to come out of it. 

My personal experience of wishing well for such people has in a way purified me and helped me overcome my own inner battles.  Swamiji has written beautiful articles on how he deals with rumors and criticism.  I’m deeply grateful to Swamiji for having imparted such wisdom that has transformed me in many ways.

To summarize, my biggest take away from this episode was how vulnerable our minds are to negativity.   No matter what we do, there will always be the risk of being misunderstood.  Also, karma is at play all the time, if we have behaved in a certain way in the past, its fruit tends to ripen over a period of time.  When we speak ill of others, it will come back to bite us in the back at a later stage in our lives.  If there is scope for better behavior, then say it to the person directly than to others, otherwise, don’t say it at all. Best policy is to be kind in all our thoughts and actions.  Give benefit of doubt to people, it protects our mind from harmful thoughts and keeps us in peace.

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Raghu Om

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