Friday, February 13, 2009

Do you use conflict productively?

Recently, a gentleman who's the President of a company and its Chief Vision Officer asked me a very interesting question. I found the question quite fascinating and I'm sure, as students and young people, you would like it too. This gentleman is based in the US and has a pretty good CV. His question was: Do you use conflict productively or do you avoid it to keep the peace?

He wanted me to tell him about my personal experiences with conflict, not textbook examples. So, I gave him some personal tidbits. You would notice that I have not named any single person. I haven't named people because it is against my principles to name people and it is unprofessional to do so. It is not because I am afraid of anyone. In any case, one is not afraid of puny folks.

You could find some extracts reproduced below (The ellipses (.....) show that I have left out few details):

In my organization, I have witnessed conflict at work. I work in a university.....I don't know how it might be in an American or British university but I could tell you about some of my experiences.

In 1997, I translated a great number of poems and stories and published them in a very reputed Indian journal. That particular issue carried 35 pages of my translations, whereas the issue itself was 175 pages. I was young and full of enthusiasm. I took the journal issue to one of my seniors at my workplace.....He said, "You would earn a lot of money"....I expected him to say, "Well done, my boy, keep it up" or perhaps, smile and congratulate me or take me out for coffee or ask me to take him out etc. I was put off but I said, "Sir, I don't really know." To which, he again reiterated the same point. His voice was somber and expression serious. I was quite angry and took two days to recover.

In 2005, we are going to speak about another senior person. I was interviewed by Dr. Tim Altanero of Texas for an article he published on translating airline menus. I got the magazine and showed it to another senior. ...........
This person kind of mocked my words where I was quoted. I knew he would react in a similar fashion but I showed it to him to 'test' him. I was proved right. I didn't feel bad
and when they say this, I tell myself, these are exceptionally insecure people who would probably be failures anywhere in life. And the only way they can communicate is through conflict.

Sometimes, people who are senior to you try to provoke you in public with certain damaging statements. However, if you do not get provoked, what can anyone do to you? Moreover, if you think that the people, who do such things to you, aren't worth a single thought of your time, I am sure you would feel very happy in life.
1. When I leave my place of work, the moment I am out of the building, I forget what happened and then appreciate the world around.

2 If I have clear evidence, somebody is jealous of me, I also tell myself, "Wow, Roomy, you must be doing pretty well in life". So, somebody being jealous is, in fact, a morale booster.

The interesting thing is that when this gentleman, who's the President of a company, asked me this 'management' question and when he saw my answer, he wrote to me stating that he was quite impressed. He also said that the second thought that "
somebody being jealous is, in fact, a morale booster", a powerful thought.

I would like to leave you people with these interesting, but really useful, thoughts about life and about management.