Friday, 3 August 2007


Do you often cry in the movies?
If you accidentally found out a colleague is crying, will you approach her and ask her what happens and whether you can help?
When you talk or do things to others, will you always think what the other person will react or feel first?
Will you stop by and offer your help when you notice someone looks kind of lost even though you rushing off to somewhere, maybe to work?
Will you make yourself a fool just to make other person feel better (or brilliant)?

Each one of us has different sensitivities to things due to different upbringing, habit and experiences in life. But being able to stand from other people point of view, able to empathize will definitely make this world a better place to live in.

Here are some principles from a fantastic book "How to Win Friends and Influence People". I think I have bought more copies of this book as gifts more than any other books ever.

Don't criticise, condemn or complain.
Give honest and sincere appreciation.
Become genuinely interested in other people.
Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
Talk in terms of other person's interest.
Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.
Show respect for the other person's opinions . Never say, 'You're wrong'.
If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
Try honestly to see things from the other's point of view.
Be sympathetic with other person's idea and desires.
Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
Let the other person save face.
Give the other person a fine reputation to live up with.


This is something that we all need to learn and I found a lot of people including myself are still poor at this.

Mimosa Pudica is a very sensitive plant.

Here are some real life bad examples (some mistakes was mine) and how we should act differently: (I may change the conversation a bit to protect privacy or I just merely forgotten exactly what were being said)

I hope to declare this. I am no expert in this field, and I am slowly learning. So my observations and suggestions may not be correct. Any comments or corrections are very welcomed.

Discussing about a colleague…..

Boss A: Well, this person does not know the product well and is a bit slow on learning. I had to explain more than twice to her at one time on something.

Employee B: Oh, I learnt something on this. Sometimes, in this situation, it may be the way we communicate our message to others which is not effective, rather than the person receiving the message are the one who has problem.

B hit right on the point. Plus A should not have made such conclusions and talk bad about a person. Totally not right. In this case, we found that, at many times, the younger or less experienced has more to teach to the older and more experienced person.

Employee A: I do not think we should do this. (Feel that what his boss did is wrong)

Boss B: (in anger, with voice slightly raise). This is supposed to be your job. I am doing it because you are not doing it.

A had made the mistake to challenge openly what his boss did to him. B, on the other hand, reacted negatively by openly and directly criticized A. Both need to improve. What if the same thing can be said in different ways?

Employee A:
(in a non-challenging tone) Will there be a better way to do this?
Boss B: (is a calm voice) Currently, this is the only way I can think of. If you can think of a better way, we can switch to that. Also, I will be happy to let you take control of this when you are ready. This is actually part of your responsibilities. But I understand that you are overloaded, so I am just helping out.

Friend A: You have read my blog?
Friend B: Oh, your blog. You said something like one of the book is the greatest business book ever. How can you say something like that? You read all the business books?
Friend A: (instantly felt the splash of cold water, and started to get defensive) What I wrote is what I felt. Maybe I did not say it clearly - it is just what I felt and may not be a fact. Anyway, I got the same opinion from some people also. Also, it is best in a particular year, not the lifetime.

Why would B want to start his comment with criticism? A may be wrong, but isn't it what blog is - a place for one to write out one's thought. What B brought out is a valid point, although he should have said it differently. Perhaps he should say something good first before he said that. Of course, not meaning to flatter A. B has to mean what he says. It just that if B really feel what he said is a piece of good advice, he should deliver it in a non-criticizing way so that A see his points and did not get hurt also. That is the objectives, right? Give advice without splashing cold water to people face. On the other hand, A should be less defensive and keep the communication open.

Friend B:
Oh, your blog. I like the part where you talk about the . But, I found one small thing that I would like to just share with you. You talk about a book that is like the best business book ever. Hard to agree with you on that, cause I do find other great business books that may be better than that book.

Friend A: Oh, that is what I felt only. You are right though. I should not have say something like that in the blog, may be a bit misleading. (grinning). Oh, what are the other books that you find is better? I am definitely interested to read that. Maybe after that we can debate which is the best? (still grinning ) (keep the communication flowing and opportunities to continue to share things)

Employee A: We do not know what caused the slowness yet. We are still finding out and at the same time, we are fine-tuning the application.

Boss B: There is no use to continue to fine-tune the application because it just cause the performance to improve slightly only. By right, we need to change the architecture by making the changes XXX like what we discussed last time.

First, there is absolutely no proof that changing XXX can make a huge difference also. And there are absolutely many good reasons why change XXX cannot be done last time until now.
Why would B dismiss all other possibilities and make a conclusion that is not really supported by any data. It is like seeing a crack on the wall and straight away said the wall structure is not good because that is the only thing we see – the wall. There are many other things supporting the wall or behind the wall that we may not see but can be the root problem.
When someone says to you, there is no use to do something, but you know you need to still do it – will it be demotivating? Like you are doing something so useless you might as well go and clean the toilets or do nothing at all. Small improvements do make some differences.

Boss B:
Yes, we should continue to fine-tune the application. Little improvements count. Anyhow, we also cannot forget to find out the real culprit to this slowness. This may be a huge improvement. But I know this is hard, so we just need to work on this more often. We have made good progress so far. Oh, there is also a change I remember that can potentially bring improvement but we hit some problems last time – XXX. You may need to explore this. If changing this make huge difference in performance, I think it is logical to do that.

It seems like the reviewed conversation are much more longer. I guess, I think I have a lot to learn how to simplify things. Maybe that's why a lot of people will say something short but misleading or hurting to others - because it is shorter and easy to just blurt out without thinking.

But the point is to explain ourselves clearly so that our messages is understood and will not to hurt others.


Blog Boy said...

I am a regular reader of your blog and I think this one of your best post....
Keep up the good work......

Susan said...

Thanks a lot for support, blog boy.

uk :: tan lin said...

I like this article!!! in essence, be sensitive to others, i think this will make our life more fantastic and meaningful!!! ;)

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