How Not to be Negative with A Negative Feedback

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Let us face it. Feedback is hard to receive no matter how much we say we are open to “criticism.” It is an even more difficult task to give one. Instant feedback ranks the highest on the toughness scale.

A negative feedback brings a whole new level of discomfort which many of us are ill-equipped to deal with.

Performance appraisals are one thing. We are prepared for them. On the other hand, instant feedback, where there is an immediate step by step pointing of what wrong you are doing could be difficult to receive because everything is happening there and then. At the same time, you are expected to make corrections ASAP, as opposed to a performance appraisal which is more long term in its scope. And giving one is a dreaded task. One fears aggression, conflict, even tears.

So, what are some ways one can give or/and receive instant feedback, especially if it leans toward the negative?


  • Pause:

It is easy to get defensive when one hears something negative about a project one did so much dedication.

Actually listening, and not preparing responses to a negative feedback is a good idea. And to do that, taking a pause is essential.

Listen to what they have to say, and process the information.

Sometimes, when one looks back at the job, the mistakes pointed out are in fact, there.

  • Nothing Personal:

While listening to what others have to say about you, especially if it’s more on a negative side, it is a good idea to remember to not take things personally. There might be a problem with your work, but that doesn’t mean that the person has a problem with you.

Even if the person has a problem with you, it is never a bad idea to take a second look at your work. To make sure you aren’t being misled, the next point comes to rescue.

  • Know Thyself:

It is good to have conviction in oneself. It is good to feel that the work ones does is good enough. Confidence is essential. Self-awareness even more so. Being aware about one’s skills and capabilities is necessary. But it is also great to have enough confidence to take a second, third, fourth look at one’s work.

The same confidence and self-awareness could help you to pause and look back on your job when you receive feedback. They could be used to realise that even if you do receive a feedback that is negative, it wouldn’t be too difficult for you to understand your mistakes and make corrections. You would know when to make corrections.

Confidence and self-awareness can also help you, in case of a positive feedback to remain level-headed.



  • The Three Words:

Be honest, gentle and non-judgmental. As basic as it sounds, these are difficult stances to achieve.

Observe the steps in the process, and then point out the mistakes gently. Jumping to conclusions about someone’s work doesn’t go a long way.

The praise-criticise-praise approach works here. Adding these cushions is necessary to make sure the person receiving the feedback doesn’t lose confidence.

At the same time, it is also necessary to keep a certain honesty wherever needed. Partly to ensure quality, partly to communicate exactly what needs to be done but also because it is easy to see through when someone is sugar-coating too much.

  • Seriously, Nothing Personal:

As mentioned before it is important to remember while receiving feedback that there is nothing personal. It is even more so while giving one.

Make sure you are being as objective as you can while giving someone a feedback. It is necessary to keep aside office politics, personal biases, likes and dislikes.

You could dislike a person but still appreciate their work. You could be fond of someone but still be able to point out their mistakes.

  • Tell, Don’t Scold:

Tone and body language are important things that can add or remove warmth and comfort. Sometimes, it is not always the words but how they have been said that make a difference.

It is important to realise the difference between scolding and telling someone. Plus, it is a great idea to keep in mind that one is dealing with adults, and not kids, to make sure the tone is not patronising or belittling.

It is not possible to do away with feedback. What would happen to the quality then? Feedback is essential to progress, to make things better and learn. It is about all about the right way to give and receive.

Post-Festival Blues: Things to Remember

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Diwali festivities are over.

It’s a New Year for some, a new week, a new day.

The thing with festivals in India, especially the ones like Diwali is that the preparations begin from weeks before. Festivities are in the air even before the actual festival. Even in the workplace, Diwali begins to act like a marker on the timeline.

“We will do this project post-Diwali.”

“I want to place this candidate before Diwali.”

Offices are decked up. So are the streets, shops and homes. Even if you didn’t take a holiday for the festival, there might be a certain sense of “return to normalcy.” Everything around you is now back to how it was before. Offices, streets, shops and homes were decked up.

Festivals are preceded and succeeded by more festivals. In-between, we have this period.

It’s not easy for the eyes and ears to miss the festive spirit. And it’s not easy too, for the eyes and ears to get used to the absence of that same festive spirit afterwards.

It is very easy to get post-festival blues or post-festival withdrawal syndrome at this point.

What can we do about it?

Here are some tricks to keep your mood and motivation levels up.



Getting back to your ‘mundane’ routine might actually be a blessing in disguise! Let us think talk about it.

Meeting and greeting of family and friends, pouring in of unexpected guests, travelling- solo or with our loved ones- could be psychologically invigorating but physically tiring. Sleep cycles often suffer during these times. The pleasantness of such interactions doesn’t bring the tiredness to notice.

The need to get back to work, coupled with this tiredness will ensure you sleep on time, and thus regain the freshness you might have lost over the past few days.


Find the Rhythm:

Now is a great time to establish a work-rhythm. With the back to back festivities of Navratri/Pujo and Diwali coming to a halt, it would have been difficult to maintain a certain sense of continuity: one step, and there would have been a holiday!

Processes would have been deferred, and in some cases left hanging.

Documents would have been left unsigned.

Now is the time to clear up all that, and push the processes towards the next step. Holidays often bring with them a certain stagnancy.

A sense of rhythm and dynamism is a big plus-point when there aren’t many major breaks on the horizon for the next couple of months.

The rhythm lets you work well, thus brings you the due rewards. This is a perception which can help us go a long way, with our productivity and motivation levels.

The end of a festive break also means you wouldn’t have to balance work and festivities, thus bringing the focus levels up.


The Double Whammy:

Sure, winter is approaching and you have noticed how days are so short now. It’s often dark outside by the time you leave the office.

But this is the perfect season to get outdoors! It’s not freezing, nor there is the frying heat. Planning outings over the weekend, evening walks, a well-charted workout etc. would not only give you something to look forward to, but also make you active. A healthy body means a healthy mind and vice versa. And thus better levels of motivation, hence better productivity.


It is important to maintain a positive attitude. We feel the festivals are a break from our routine  because they are not our routine: it is important to understand this binary, because it helps one appreciate everything, right from why we work to why we celebrate.

We laughed along with the festivities and the break. Now is a great time to smile at the mundane and the routine.

Are you an Intrapreneur?


“Entrepreneurship” is a familiar word to most of us. An entrepreneur is someone who has set up a business of his or her own. They are deemed to be industrious individuals who had the courage to start something from the scratch.

 Who is an intrapreneur?

An intrapreneur is someone within (hence the prefix “intra”) the organisation who has qualities similar to an entrepreneur. They might not have set up their own business (yet) but their way of working, their ability to take risks, problem-solving  skills, creativity, all reflect the spirit of an entrepreneur.

 Why does an organisation need intrapreneurs? Why is such a culture being promoted?

   It often happens that people do have ideas, smart solutions and strategies. But they don’t always speak up thinking:

  • They won’t get any credit.
  • This is not their role.

Companies are now realising what all gets missed out at times because of a lack of encouragement for intrapreneurship.

 A culture of intrapreneurship intends to provide equal opportunities and space to voice ideas to everyone, irrespective of designation.

 An environment that scores high on intrapreneurship would:

  • Keep lines of communication open. Right from security guards, receptionists, would be given opportunities to voice their ideas, even if their ideas might not always fit their “roles”.
  • Allow people from ,say, marketing departments to voice their ideas about administration, the tech department to voice ideas about management, etc.  and vice versa.
  • Foster a sense of collaboration, empowerment, credit and rewards where deserved.

 It is not about using all the ideas at once and creating a mishmash. It is about giving that space to voice, to grow and to innovate and think independently. An intrapreneur needs to be identified and nurtured, and companies are beginning to realise this.

 So, are you an intrapreneur? Vijay Govindrajan and Jatin Desai list out some of the noticeable characteristics in the Harvard Business Review:

 Money is not the Measurement: Intrapreneurs wish to influence and be heard, money is not their primary motivation.

Strategic Scanning: They think one step ahead. They are learners and problem-solvers, and not ones who wait for things to just happen.

Greenhousing: When the seed of an idea gets planted in their minds, intrapreneurs let it grow. They read, research more about it and let it nurture fully before articulating.

Visual Thinking: Intrapreneurs brainstorm, brain-map and visualise ideas, multiple ideas. They are good at divergent thinking.

Pivoting: This is the ability to change strategies and shape ideas according to the changing needs. Intrapreneurs are thus flexible.

Authenticity and Integrity: Intrapeneurs are confident but also self-aware and with a keen sense of purpose.

 A spirit of collaboration, not competition needs to be fostered within organisations where intrapreneurs get nurtured, who one day might become entrepreneurs. Companies are often afraid that such individuals would eventually set up competitive ventures, but in these fears, the benefits that these enterprising people bring to the organisation are often overlooked.

So, are you an intrapreneur? Do you know one? Be one!

Build Your Brand the Storytelling Way

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Many of us would remember huddling in groups as someone would tell fascinating fables about clever crows, overconfident rabbits, conniving monkeys.

Folk-tales, myths about Gods, ghost-stories are embedded in our cultural memories.

Some would also remember the stories (smart solutions actually) about Akbar and Birbal, Krishnadev  Rai and Tenali Rama.

We learn by listening to stories. Storytelling is a great way to grab attention and engage: we are hardwired to listen this way.

Unfortunately,  fiction, imagination, even lying are associated with storytelling, not facts, information, statistics.

Without realising we utilize the art of storytelling in a more or less degree in various ways.

Yes, yes, even in professional settings!

Storytelling is essentially an act of narrating. We are all narrators. We look back at past events (even something that unfolded five minutes ago), and tell what happened, pretty much as if we are telling a story.

Imagine you are in a meeting. You think a strategy might work. But how do you substantiate? “Facts” and statistics could be incomplete. You remember reading about how this one company did which was something similar to your idea. So you tell that company’s story to support your claims.

Aristotle, the Greek philosopher considered a well-structured Beginning, Middle and End essential to drama (story basically.)

This sounds almost comically obvious, but imagine this in professional terms.

In the notoriously short attention-span everyone has, wouldn’t it be necessary to make the Beginning of your CV as engaging as possible?

While narrating, it is necessary to know what and what not to include. Isn’t that what we do while constructing our CVs every time we apply somewhere?

Just like a good story, your “CV-tory” could change minds, simplify, communicate. It is the story of your (professional) life. The poster of the brand “you.”

In fact the recently used video and audio resumes further show the potential of the CV as a storytelling device.

You are the main character here, with well-practiced and perfectly delivered lines. And you must have the maximum impact on your “audience”: your recruiters/employers.

Interviews are storytelling sessions of sorts we engage in.

We choose particular details about our professional lives to tell the interviewer,  to make the “story” convey our eligibility. This story brands you.

Again, you must include everything in proper order for maximum impact. Relevance is important, isn’t it? Imagine talking about a great achievement of yours, at the Beginning of your interview. Wouldn’t that create a better level of engagement, rather than saying it towards the End when the interviewer has already made an impression about you in mind?

Good books, movies, plays have the power to move, so do good CVs, interviews and presentations.

Anecdotes are another form of storytelling we engage in our communications. They often counter biases and prejudices.

“I have been to that country, and it’s definitely not the way everyone thinks it is…”

“I heard it’s a great place to work at..”

Companies are making it a point to make their and their employees’ success-stories public. Storytelling has become a way to brand organisations.

Stories about successful people, stories we read about in daily newspapers, our lessons from our pasts: there are countless instances where stories motivate, teach, market and brand.

A “good story” crystallises thoughts, articulates them well. Stories give strategising a sense of direction, they tell us about the good and the bad ideas.

Stories are everywhere and so is storytelling if we keep our eyes, ears and minds open.



Behind the Workaholism

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The work culture of any corporate enterprise differs, and there are factors like the industry concerned, whether it is privately owned or state owned, and many other such variables. The policies they follow, the brand they wish to establish are all elements which determine a company’s work culture.

  Workaholic and workaholism are some words which have of late entered the professional vocabulary. And the phenomenon is something that has entered in the corporate culture, regardless of the policies, though obviously not in equal degrees.

  Firstly, it is necessary to understand the difference between a workaholic and someone who works extensively for long hours.

  A workaholic is a person with a compulsive need to work. Simply put, he or she just cannot “switch off”. Even when not working, this person can only think about work and work-related things. Personal relationships and health often suffer because of this compulsion.

  On the other hand, someone might work for extremely long hours. But if he or she is able to disconnect and not constantly think about work when not on the job, we can’t consider this person a workaholic.

Even if one loves the job, it is necessary to cut off for some time.

We must realise that the blame should not be put on the person concerned.

  Over the years, the corporate culture has shaped up in a certain way.

  Firstly, with technology becoming mainstream and almost a necessity, it has become easier to “carry” work around. One can just open up a laptop and do what they were doing in the office. This way, it becomes difficult to “switch off” since work and work-related things are literally within an arm’s reach and just a few clicks away, anytime.

 Coupled with this, imagine the need we are constantly force-fed with: the need to be productive.

Not just of the corporate culture, but a general characteristic of our times is the need to constantly “do” something.

Anything that doesn’t give you stress and workload gets considered useless.

“What’s the point of working if you are not busy all the time?” seems to be the misleading policy so many live by.

It is necessary to remember that a busy worker is not necessarily a productive worker.

Long working hours are not to be equated with productive working hours.

   20th century saw the rise of the workaholic culture, with more and more people acting like “working machines”. And these were the role models the 21st century generations have access to. The rise in social media addictions did not work very well into the mix. Add to it, the success which could be “seen” sells on social media. And unfortunately, “the grind” has become a tangible marker of such a success, and also the only road to success.

  Bad health, personal relationships suffering are only considered as part and parcel of this grind, or worse, mere obstacles to “success”.

In such a milieu, it is a tough job to not become a workaholic.

   It is a good sign that many countries, especially the European ones are now reducing the work hours of employees to ensure there is a work-life balance, Denmark being a famous example. According to the OECD Better Life report, they have a better work-life balance than any country, with majority of workers spending two thirds of their day in eating, sleeping and indulging in leisurely pursuits.

   It is necessary that companies take steps to bring changes in the corporate culture to ensure overall well-being of employees.

  The image of a “driven and ambitious” person, motivated to rise to the top of the corporate ladder, with all the focus in the world on the job, no matter what may come, actually comes with its costs and risks. The crisp formal attire, might hide cardiovascular and stress-induced chronic ailments.

Behind the calm, confident, controlled expressions on the face may lie missed birthday parties and parent-teacher meetings, unresolved issues with a loved one, half-hearted family outings with the mind being at work, exasperated by the “waste of time”.