Our attitude is what influences all our actions. It is only the right attitude, which gets us good results. All the smiles and hand-shakes are not going to get you far, if you do not have the attitude to help others, without any selfish expectations in return. If you expect something in return, then it is not help, it is only a favour, and you are only interested in your own selfish desires.
It has been said that Opportunity ‘knocks’ at every door. If we utilise it, it leads to success. Otherwise, we just complain about the ‘noise’. Every problem that we face is nothing but an opportunity, to success, by learning how to conquer it. The better we get at problem solving, the more successful we are.
Theory is only fully understood by solving problems. One cannot succeed in life with mere theories; it is only the application of theory, in overcoming problems, that brings the desired results.
To a ‘positive’ person, a problem is not only a temporary set-back, but also a stepping stone to success. To a ‘negative’ thinker, every problem only confirms his pessimistic view, that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. So every problem becomes a stumbling block, with the inevitable result, that he/she soon stops progressing. Human nature has inertia, i.e. it resists any change. We like to keep within our ‘comfort zone’, even to the extent of not trying to change a bad habit, that we are only too well aware of. However, should one desire to improve, there is o stopping you, on your path to success.
Some common Do’s and Don’ts :
- Accept Responsibilities. Whether in your job or elsewhere, avoid ‘Passing the Buck’. By accepting any responsibility, you are actually promoting yourself. Accept responsibility, even for something you have done wrong, and try to analyse and rectify it, instead of trying to shrug off the blame. Avoid statements like ‘This place is hopeless’ or ‘This is not my fault’.
- Create the Right Attitude. Everyone in your team must benefit, so that the whole group gains. Everyone stands to gain, as you reap more benefits from the combined efforts, than from just trying to be a ‘loner’. This is called as having a Team Spirit. Many people have a Win – Lose attitude. They feel that it is right to gain something extra, even at the expense of everyone else in their group, who must ‘lose’. This leads to a Lose – Lose situation, where everyone in the team ends up with some loss.
- Have consideration for the other person, and you will receive the same consideration, from others, in return. Give others the same treatment, that you would like to receive from them. Be tactful. Avoid unnecessarily hurting any person’s sentiments, by undue harshness. Some people brag about being ‘brutally honest’. They take more pleasure in the brutality, than in the honesty. You can be sure, that the recipient of your ‘brutality’ will leave no stone unturned, in returning you the same treatment (with interest).
- Avoid criticism, especially in public. It is very easy to criticise, but difficult to undo the damage due to negative criticism. Negative criticism almost always has the effect of making the person justify his wrong action, rather than to remedy the situation. Make the person aware of his draw-backs indirectly, so that he will himself ‘correct’ the fault. Correcting a fault is the desired outcome; not ‘hanging’ the person for his alleged ‘crime’. Although a person doing a ‘wrong’ action needs to be corrected, it is the action that is ‘wrong’, not the person.
- Be positive in your interpretation of another person’s actions. Don’t get paranoid and expect the worst. It is always better to give a person the benefit of the doubt. Even in a court of law, nobody is declared a criminal until proved. Unfounded suspicions are worse than hanging a person.
- Be an Empathic listener. Seek to understand, what the other person is trying to communicate, with an open mind. Do not try to dominate his talk, or judge him with your own myopic or prejudiced views of the situation.
- Be enthusiastic in whatever you do. Enthusiasm is ‘infectious’ i.e. it fires up the whole team to perform better. The only difference between the successful team and any other team, is that little bit of extra effort, which is possible only if there is an enthusiastic approach.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation, whenever a person deserves this. This is not to be confused with flattery, which shows up the lack of character of the Flatterer. A Flatterer almost always has an ulterior motive behind his flattery, which is usually only to his own benefit. However, other things being equal, it is far better to suffer a Flatterer, than to be stuck with an ungrateful person, who does not ever appreciate anything, much less ever praise anyone. An ungrateful person displays a total lack of any leadership qualities.
- The moment someone points out any of your mistakes, it is better to accept it graciously, instead of launching your own diversionary tactics to shift the blame elsewhere, or deny something totally. However, you must take care not to repeat the same mistake again. To make a mistake once is human; to repeat it many times, is sheer carelessness and not pardonable. Accept the mistakes of another, without humiliating him publicly, and rejoice in the success of his efforts to correct it. Congratulate the person when he corrects the mistake, with the same constancy, as when you pointed out his mistake. You must always be fair in your dealings.
- Don’t get unnecessarily involved in Arguments. They achieve nothing. Neither side knows the facts. If they did, why would they argue ? Nor are the arguers interested in knowing any facts. To an Arguer, who is right is more important, than what is right. An argument is an emotional affair. When viewed logically, it is a complete waste of time, as there are no tangible benefits. Neither side is open to the point of view of the other. There is nothing to be learnt from it either, as neither side is working systematically. The only way to get the best out of an argument is to avoid it, or decline to participate. Arguments leave you frustrated and emotionally charged, without achieving any objective, of putting up your point-of-view.
- In order to learn anything new, you need an exchange of ideas. This can only be done with a Discussion, a give-and-take of information and ideas. Discussions can often lead to arguments, if there is more than one dominating personality involved. An argument is basically a clash of egos, whereas a discussion remains an exchange of ideas. Nobody is trying to promote himself here. As a result, everyone who participates in a discussion has something to gain from it.
- Avoid gossip. This spreads Lies with amazing speed, and can result in irreparable harm to the person concerned. You, yourself, may well be the next victim of gossip. When you betray the trust of someone’s confidential information, you will lose his respect forever. Gossip is the work of idle minds. They never have the honesty or the guts to come out in the open, with any accusation and give the person a fair chance to prove or disprove anything. It is an unnecessary and cowardly victimisation of a person.
- Don’t just vaguely promise something. When you make it a Commitment, you plan to do what you say, viz. you demonstrate your Integrity. A Commitment is usually influenced by values, and not so much by a person or object. You may make a commitment to support someone, because of his perceived ideology. You are, however, free to drop your support, if he/she is found to be corrupt or otherwise unworthy. Integrity is to really do, what you say. Never preach to others, what you cannot follow yourself. A marriage, without commitment from both sides, is ineffective, because the basic insecurity it generates, will impair its efficient functioning.
- Be grateful for all that you are enjoying. Be grateful to anyone who does something for you. But don’t expect gratitude, for everything that you do. Selfless service is what actually satisfies, not the gratitude of the person being helped. If you expect some return, than that is business, not social service. Donate your time, and not just money, to the service of another, if you really care for the person. The sacrifice may involve not just your time, but also effort and involvement, the extent of which determines the depth of your love to the people you claim to care for.
- Be dependable and loyal, to ensure that people reciprocate with the same intensity. One dependable partner is worth more than a whole team of insincere ‘experts’.
- Don’t hold Grudges for anyone’s past mistakes. They aren’t worth holding ! Forgive the person, but learn from the experience. If you get cheated once, it is shame on the Cheater. If you should get cheated again, by the same person, it is also shame on you, for allowing yourself to be cheated. Honesty is the best policy. A Liar invariably gets tripped up by his own lies.
- Sincerity of purpose is an admirable quality. Any person will forgive a mistake easily, if he knows that there was sincerity of purpose. Humility is the ability to accept praise graciously, with a simple Thank you. This should be without either arrogance or without belittling yourself, either of which extreme is bad. Arrogance is a sign of over-confidence, while being unnecessarily servile indicates someone trying to hide something.
- Courtesy. This is something which many people are unwilling to grant others, but always expect from everyone else. It costs nothing to be polite, but the effect it has, on bringing down barriers of hostility, is remarkable. Approaching a person with courtesy often opens doors; just as a rude or arrogant approach blocks your path, with equal efficiency.
- Always try to maintain your sense of humour. The ability, to look on the lighter side of things, is what keeps you going, in times of stress. It takes less muscles to smile than to frown. The ‘too serious’ person, who has no time to smile, generates ill-will among his team, which affects the long term performance considerably.
- Immature people enjoy putting down their juniors (or people under their control) sarcastically, in the misguided impression that they are cracking a joke. You should laugh with someone, never at someone, because the ill will that you create, in the mind of your ‘victim’, will eventually lead to your own downfall. One extra enemy you unnecessarily create can neutralise the work of a hundred friends. People may laugh at your ‘socalled’ joke at that time, but carry away a very poor impression of you, as a person. If he is joking about that person today, he may well do so about you tomorrow.
- Be a true friend, in order to be a good friend. If you value your friendship and care for the person, it is better to be truthful, even if it seems distasteful at that time, than to risk telling lies, to ‘keep’ a friendship. A true friend is one who shares your joys, as well as assists you in times of trouble. The ‘fair weather’ friend is one who wants to share the joy, but abandons you, when you are going through trouble. Actually it is only during times of trouble, that you really need a ‘true’ friend the most. When a friend is in trouble, don’t give empty words like ‘Call me if you need anything’, when you mean nothing of the kind. A person who really means to help, will start doing something to help, no matter how small, to demonstrate the quality of his friendship.
- Friendship usually involves some sacrifice. It is the very opposite of selfishness. There is no ‘By the way, can you do this ?’ You must go out of your way, to help a friend, if you genuinely feel that he should come out of his misfortunes. The friend will reciprocate the same kind of help to you, in your time of need. A ‘fair weather’ friend is like an acquaintance, he remains as long as he is not needed for anything ! It is just like a ‘friendship’ born out of some ulterior motive, which never lasts, once the ‘job’ is done. A true friendship lasts forever. Even one ‘true’ friend is better than having hundreds of ‘fair weather’ friends, who are worthless in times of need.
- Be an Empathic listener. Empathy differs from sympathy. Sympathy is when you agree to what the person is saying, even if it is wrong, just for the sake of friendship. It actually is a betrayal of friendship, since you are being dishonest. It can often become a crutch, on which your friend is leaning. You are harming him, more than helping him, by justifying his wrong deeds with sympathy. An empathic listener only tries to understand ‘logically’ what the person is trying to say, after which he may try to convince the person, diplomatically, that what he is doing may be wrong, and what should be the correct course of action, without hurting his sentiments.
About the Authors
Mr. Vikram Gokhale and Mr. N. Nanda are both Marine Engineers, who are senior faculty with premier Maritime Training Institutes. They have extensive experience, not only as teachers in the Marine field, but also practical experience as shipboard engineers, in tackling a variety of problems. They are also authors of the popular NG Series of text-books.