Learn to acknowledge and appreciate

An educator with many decades of experience talks about how we Indians are quick to judge others but often forget to acknowledge and appreciate the good in others-

“We Indians are indeed proud of our heritage, culture and tradition. We leave no stone unturned when it comes to talking about the greatness of our culture and embracing our patriotic spirit. But my 60 years of experience in various positions has taught me something else about this great culture which I would like to share through this platform. While I humbly acknowledge my love for my country and it’s culture I have to say that we Indians, fall short when it comes to acknowledging and appreciating others.

We Indians are clever in finding fault with, but do not know how to appreciate others. In all my years of experience, I have never received any appreciation for completing any of my assignments successfully, despite the fact those assignments earned noteworthy gains or reputation to the organization. But of course, I have received firings even for the most trivial errors. In one of my training programmes, we were discussing about delegation. I had introduced a game and the evaluation of the game was going on. One of the participants was a top official in a government organization. He was arguing that delegation could not be successful because of the negative attitude of subordinates. My Director, who was an IIM product, also was present in the forum and he asked a question to this participant that how many times he appreciated his subordinates, even for some small assignments, when they were completed successfully. We found him thinking and he confessed that he never appreciated not only his subordinates but even his wife and children. At the close of the programme, when everyone leaving, he came to us and thanked us stating that we had opened his eyes.

My son recently joined a US firm and when he completed his first assignment, his boss called him and appreciated him immediately. Later on, he was asked to make a presentation to the boss of his boss. To his surprise, immediately after the presentation, this senior boss directly called him and appreciated him. This is the difference in the attitude of Indians and foreigners. How many bosses in our corporate world appreciate their subordinates before finding fault with them?

Few years back when I was leading a mission, I wrote to the Vice Chancellors of 25 top universities in the world for associating with us to launch a new course. Simultaneously I wrote to Indian universities also. I got reply from either the Vice Chancellors or their secretaries or in some cases the university administration of all the 25 universities with in a week’s time appreciating my efforts to launch the new course and expressing their regret for their inability to associate at that time. Unfortunately, I did not get a single reply from any of the Indian counterparts. Now are we really living up to the greatness of our cultural heritage?

Once I wrote to the Secretary in my Municipality about the anomaly in fixing my house tax. I did not get any reply after several reminders. So I sent a legal notice to all the councilors quoting the provisions of Municipal Act and my intention to proceed legally. This worked and I was invited for a discussion and resolution of the issue. On my visit I asked the Secretary why he did not answer to the letter. The reply came from one of the councilors that it was a government office and we should not expect a reply. Wonderful!

Many of our corporate executives had either studied in some of the top B’s Schools abroad like Harvard, Stanford or our own institutions like IIMS. Are they practicing what they were taught there? If you want to check please write a letter to any one of them and wait for months. Your letter might have gone to his secretary’s waste basket. While I was working as a corporate executive I had given instructions to my subordinates that every letter received at our department should be replied with in one day. I used to keep a diary and follow whether the replies were going promptly. The result was wonderful. We could stop reminders flowing into our inward mail basket. This doesn’t mean that even junk mails also are to be attended to. My predecessor in the training college used to send reply to every mail received. Those included promotional brochures too. The result was that more and more junk mails came to the department. Here we need to apply 80:20 principle.

Many of us think that once we enter into a job, we need not learn further. Often we continue to follow what was practiced by our predecessors. I don’t understand the difficulty in thinking differently and acting innovatively.

It is better to evaluate the cultural practices we follow every day through the lens of the “other” and realize our mistakes. This is only way we can make our country proud!”

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