Visibility

Its appraisal time and you gear up with your proofs to talk to your supervisor about what all you have done the whole year. The call with your supervisor starts and you generously talk about the projects, appreciations, accolades etc. Supervisor listens patiently and finally he chips in with a statement “You should ensure you create visibility” and you immediately know what your rating would look like now. Does that statement “You should ensure you create visibility” sound very familiar to you? If yes, then we are on the same page.

Wondering why you got a poor rating after performing well? Well, it is because of lack of visibility

Wondering why you did not get promoted? Well, it is because of lack of visibility

For non-IT people reading this and trying to comprehend what visibility means,

  • Visibility is not testing if you are able to see things clearly on the computer screen
  • Visibility is not sitting near your manager
  • Visibility is not showing your face to your manager or top management each day and wishing them good morning
  • Visibility is something that boils down to “Making yourself known to influential people in the organization”

To put it short – People who can influence decisions should know you.

Visibility in IT industry is defined as a strong pressure inducing keyword that has the capability to dent an individual’s confidence however good he/she might be.

In very colloquial terms, Visibility is the most abstract, ambiguous word yet commonly used to screw one’s life.

Let me give you a background. An IT employee is required to not only work in his project but also is expected to do some extra tasks to earn brownie points.

Definition of these extra tasks are “Tasks that add value to the practice/vertical/horizontal/specialization you are in”

People who aspire for the highest rating push hard and do most of the below things or all of them,

  • Mail to as many influential people as possible to get their work known
  • They research on trends posted by X, Y and Z magazines and update it in Newsletter
  • They try to take information available on the internet and make study materials
  • They try to represent existing documentation as workflows/flowcharts just to enhance readability
  • And many more junks

But do these extra tasks add any value to the practice/vertical/horizontal?

A question arises deep inside – Honestly how is an employee judged these days?

No more are you judged,

  • By your integrity towards your work
  • By your commitment that you put in striving to achieve perfection in the deliverables you send
  • By your honesty in saying ‘No’ when you are not aware of something
  • By your excellence in work.

But you are judged,

  • By your ability to network
  • By your ability to talk (even if it doesn’t make sense) (Being quiet/silent doesn’t mean anything bad. Little do people know that being silent makes you listen more and saves enough energy for you to work in a much more effective way)
  • By your ability to create additional documents (apart from project) that are of no value to the business but look adorable (eg: newsletters, case studies – jargons in case studies would be copied from 100 sources and there is nothing original in it)
  • By your ability to drink socially with the management

Wow!!!! Amazing isn’t it??

Networking is individual’s wish, drinking socially is individual’s wish, being talkative is individual’s wish, creating junk documents is absolutely individual’s wish. It is sad state of affairs that what is to be considered as one’s inherent nature is being tagged to visibility and rating.

Commitment towards work, integrity towards work, striving to attain perfection at work, being a good team player – These are mandatory for an organization to move ahead and these are the things that should create visibility. Why don’t you judge and rate based on these?

When talking about extra tasks, if you do a white paper, if you innovate, if you fine tune the processes, then that is adding value. But how many do this? Or how many are given a platform to do this? To add value to a topic say ‘X’ or to innovate beyond ‘X’, one should have had at least some basic exposure to ‘X’. How many employees in the organization are given exposure to products/solutions beyond the major documentation work that drives IT now. Then where will innovation jump from?

Also, a person can contribute to extra tasks only if his project is relatively less complicated or takes less time to complete. There are projects that are very complex, very demanding, there could be tough customers to deal with, project might demand new skillset to be acquired quickly etc. But none of these parameters are taken into account. Rather the projects irrespective of its parameters are considered as equal while rating an individual and everyone is expected to do extra tasks irrespective of what kind of project they were involved in.

Now having said all this, I don’t blame the employees who go the extra mile to gain visibility and the highest rating. They do it because it is part of the system.

There is something called “Leadership” (Most abused word in IT) in many big IT companies. Leadership constitutes the Middle level and Top Management or in some places it is only the top management. This leadership is the one that voices its views/opinions stating what is apt when HR policies come out.

But this leadership in IT has nothing to do with ‘Real Leadership’. They don’t even come 2% closer to it. Their thought like most other employees is to survive. I personally am not ok with giving the term leadership to a specific set of people (People at the middle/top management) given the fact that they are also the same as every other person in the organization i.e. fighting for their own survival. The truth is that a lot of them who hold the tag ‘leadership’ didn’t ask for it. It was just pushed based on designation. A true leader can even be in the bottom rung of the pyramid. Leadership and designation just don’t go together.

Finally, if ever there is a day change will come in the way IT operates, then it is when the Leadership assumes responsibility for the name it has and the HRs don’t initiate policies for the heck of it.

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Marks – They are just numbers and not life..

With the 12th results coming out and with the 10th results to come out, there is so much talk around about marks, State 1st rank, what the toppers spoke when they were interviewed, whether boys scored higher or girls scored higher, which city has the highest pass percentage etc.

Oh God! Why is there such obsession with marks? 

After the 12th results have come, I have heard 4 instances of students committing suicide and that is precisely the reason why I am writing this. There could be more instances as well. Seriously why is this happening every year? Are marks so important than ones life? I plead to parents to place less emphasis on marks as they really aren’t the deciding factor of ones life. 

Swami Vivekanada says “We want the education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet”. 

I am sure you will be able to answer these questions,

  • How much did your son/daughter score in Maths and Science?
  • How much do you want your son/daughter to score?
  • What/Where does your son/daughter aspire to study? 
  • Do you think he/she takes enough efforts to achieve his/her goals?

Can you answer these questions,

  • Does your son/daughter know to fix basic electrical/plumbing faults?
  • Does your son/daughter know to correlate the concepts learnt with the outside world?
  • Does your son/daughter know what is good for the environment?
  • Does your son/daughter know how to plant a tree and nurture it?
  • Do you know what kind of attitude towards life your son/daughter has?

If you can answer at least half of the questions like these, then hats off.

Why are we stressing so much on marks? What benefits does it give you? It only leaves your kid with health problems/mental stress after 17 years of education.

People see education as a way to make money. If you believe great marks will give you great jobs, yes it might happen. Am not denying it. That is how our stupid society is built and they trust marks, marks and marks. Someday say the economy is in shambles and people are thrown out of their jobs. What will people do? How many will have the guts to face life? They never learnt life skills as part of their mark oriented education. 

But if you educate your kid with life skills and with sound knowledge like how Swami Vivekanada says, then you leave your kid with the abilities to handle challenges effectively, abilities to lead a company, abilities to scale greater heights soon as the foundation is strong, abilities to venture into ’n’ number of things and a lot more.

My kind request to all parents is when you get to know the marks of your children..

  • Whatever the mark might be, appreciate your child for the effort that he/she has taken
  • Don’t compare his/her marks with someone else’s. Each child is unique. 
  • Everyone makes mistakes and mistakes occur at any moment even without our knowing. For some students, such mistakes might occur in board exams as well. All this is part and parcel of life.
  • Don’t pull their self esteem down by criticising them

My kind request to students..

World is full of opportunities and you can create a niche one for yourself as well. So please don’t quit life or lose your hope. Just stay positive. You are the future of the country. Jai Hind!

Life or Luxury?

When I was a kid, I heard these time and again from my parents and people around me.

  1. Let us see who eats and finishes first – I would gulp the food and say “Yayyyy I am firsttttt”
  2. Let us see who runs and touches the wall first – I would run with all my heart and say “yayyyy I am firstttt”
  3. Let us see who comes first in this game – I would take shortcuts to finish the game first and would shout in sheer joyyy

These basic expressions/statements place emphasis on the word “FIRST” and kids start presuming that coming first is something unbelievably awesome. This concept of FIRSTTT doesn’t end at home. It continues even after the kid joins school.

When I was in 1st standard, I took part in the running race held for kids. School decided to shortlist good runners from that large pool of little ones and conducted a race for them. Finally they selected the top 3. I ran hard and came 3rd.

Post the race, the winners’ announcement was about to happen. The MC (Master of Ceremony) was all set. She calls the 3rd place winner – “The 3rd place goes to Anand”. I calmly came and stood on the podium. Claps come in from the audience.

Now she calls the 2nd place winner. The 2nd place goes to Ashwin. The kid calmly comes and stands on the podium. Claps come in a little louder from the audience.

And now she calls the 1st place winner. With all the stress that she could manage with her tongue, she says “The Firsssssttttttt Placeeeeee Goesssss ttttttoooooooooo – Anishhh”.. And the audience without their knowing clap hard and loud for a long time.

You should have looked at my face and the other kid’s face on the podium. We felt that the attention given to first prize winner was much more than our prize itself.

Look at the stress that is being placed upon Firstttt. It might sound great for the comperer but it doesn’t sound great for the kids’ future.

Now from smallest of games, let us move into education and here the environment just doesn’t spare a kid. Everyone wants to grow toppers and rankers in their homes.

I grew up scoring good marks and I came first almost in all the classes till college but ultimately I wasn’t educated for 19 long years. I mean I couldn’t apply what I learnt. It was all about racing ahead of others.

Racing.. Racing… and Racing ahead in life…

It doesn’t stop here. This attitude grows up with us. Once we start working, we start comparing ourselves with our peers and we evaluate our standing. Be it in terms of designation, salary or whatever.

I sometimes crave to go abroad after seeing my friends in different parts of the world. But why is that craving there in me to go abroad? If I think why I am in India and why my friends are living abroad, I have only one answer. I chose to study in India and they chose to study abroad or they got a chance to go abroad or they decided to go abroad to make a living. I don’t find any other difference. But still why do I crave? It is because of what I have heard till now.

From when I was a kid, I have heard tons of statements like these from my parents, relatives, friends.

  • Rahul is in a very nice company. He is earning Twentyyy Lakhs..
  • This girl Neha grew quickly and is with the designation “Director”. She must be minting money
  • Wow he is in the US. Wow he is in UK.. He is earning so much there. He went onsite and he bought a house. Great!

Wow factor is in the LUXURY is what we are conditioned to believe. And that is why most of us go towards it.

We start comparing ourselves with others, we begin to compete fiercely with just the motive of earning more, living abroad etc, we get stressed because that is not what we want to do and finally we lose our happiness. Some go into depression as well by getting way too stressed about the situation they are in.

Is all this worth it?? You get a chance to live your life just once. Just F*** the luxury.

Coming first, earning more, living abroad – What is the obsession with all this? The core purpose of life is being happy with what we do. But when that happiness is lost, then what is the purpose of having such obsessions.

Kids come with a fresh mind always and they always see things equally. It is we who do slow poisoning in their mind. And this poison starts killing the kid’s happiness in different ways when it goes to school, college and work.

Let us not emote in awe when we talk about luxury. Appreciate the man who earns Rs.5000 a month and also appreciate the man who earns Rs.100000 a month. Let us not emote in awe when we here the term ‘first’. Appreciate everyone who has attempted/tried whole heartedly. Let us not emote in awe when we see someone go abroad. Appreciate every country and its positives.

17 promises to my son

Hey Ishu Kutty,

On your first birthday, we promise you certain things in life and these promises are blurted out straight from the heart.

  1. We would try our very best to give you exposure to many things around to the maximum possible extent which would help you find out what you love to do in life. It could be anything. We mean it. It could be anything.
  2. We wouldn’t care about marks but we would care about your practical/real life understanding of what you read.
  3. We wouldn’t let you down in times of crisis or when you are at fault. We will be by your side and give you the space to learn from your experiences
  4. We shall instill ethics in you not by preaching but by behaving.
  5. We wouldn’t degrade you however silly a question you ask or however silly an act you do. Everyone is silly at times and everyone doesn’t know everything.
  6. We wouldn’t get influenced by what others say about you or we wouldn’t compare you with others. We will always trust you and your abilities.
  7. We will raise you without any caste/community influence. Probably we will request you to be a part of one community which is humanity.
  8. We would give you more experiences than materials.
  9. Your mom and I might have small fights but it doesn’t mean end of the world. We will still love each other. Like you and your friends will fight and patch up in sometime, so will we. But we promise we wouldn’t fight in a way that disturbs your mental peace. We know the best gift a child can get is ‘parents loving each other’ as this helps in creating a conducive atmosphere for the child to grow up well in life.
  10. We will be a kid when you are a kid, we will be teens when you are a teen (Just talking about the mindset. Our body will not be as flexible as yours but we shall try to keep ourselves fit :)) and we will stay away when you feel you want to have a life of your own.
  11. We will keep ourselves updated to be in sync with you and your environment when you grow up
  12. We wouldn’t trouble you by expecting much
  13. We promise to react by putting ourselves in your shoes whenever you narrate an incident and not react based on how we would have reacted to the situation
  14. Just because we are elder to you, it doesn’t mean we will be right in our views and we won’t listen to your perspectives. You can voice out your perspectives at all times. We will accept your perspectives whole heartedly in anything that we discuss 🙂
  15. We will involve you in every decision that we make as a family. We wouldn’t separate you thinking you are too young. Young minds have great ideas is what we believe.
  16. We will give you loads of hugs in the years to come 🙂 We feel a hug can heal your internal wounds, give you emotional contentment, boost your self-esteem and many more 🙂
  17. Last but not the least. Just because you were born to us, it doesn’t mean we own you. You can be who you are.

Now that we have made many promises, we might slip away a few times from them not intentionally but by mistake due to the circumstances that surround on that particular day. To err is human. 🙂

Happie birthdayyy in advance Ishaan. We love you so much. Loads of hugs and kisses from dad and mom 🙂 As I end this, tears roll down my eyes for you brought in so much happiness in our lives 🙂

 

‘Sorry’ – Relationship Strengthener

Few days back I saw a mom asking her little son (about 4 years old) to say Sorry to his friend. Conversation went this way..

Mom: Amog, you pinched Samat. Say sorry to him

Amog: No I won’t..

Mom: Amogg, mistake is yours. Say sorry..

Amog: <Remains silent>

Mom gets angry and keeps insisting Amog to say Sorry and finally ‘Sorry’ pops out of Amog’s mouth.

This incident left me pondering for sometime on what could be the possible reasons for the kid fussing to say a simple sorry. Array of thoughts ran through my mind and I have jotted them here.

Children emulate parents. Don’t they?

When parents fight, most of the times I don’t see the word “Sorry” pop out from either of them. Their fingers pop out immediately pointing towards the other. They have their egos intact and keep their faces as stern as possible in different directions. Kids see them and learn from them. When kids fight with someone, they emulate the same behavior. There is no point in insisting the kid to ask sorry when parents don’t do it. We are great at giving gyan to others especially kids but not at giving gyan to ourselves.

Some people say I don’t like to say sorry in relationships. Is this a fashion statement? Probably yes.

Be it a fight with your spouse or with your kid, with your friend or with your relative, ask sorry to them. When you ask sorry to your kid, your kid will automatically say sorry to you and to its friends. Most importantly it sees ‘Sorry’ as something that helps strengthen a relationship

Certain beliefs are held by people when it comes to asking sorry and these beliefs stop them from asking it.

  • “People feel they would be punished/abused even after asking sorry”. Eg: You committed a mistake in your organization which resulted in 2 weeks delay in delivering a project but the management does not know whose fault it was. If you ask sorry, you are trapped and probably it will reflect in your rating.
  • “If people ask sorry, they feel their self worth goes down” when actually it doesn’t
  • “Sorry means people are exposed and they are a shame”

Sorry doesn’t mean we are a shame. It means we have introspected, have had self-realization and have learnt from our mistake. It is ok if people get to know that we made a mistake. What is the big deal?  Everyone does mistakes. ‘Sorry’ infact has lot of benefits

Benefits of asking sorry:

  • It makes you feel light and at ease
  • Your self-worth goes up because you are transforming to a better human being
  • It tells people around that you are a nice person
  • It tells people around that you are learning from your mistakes
  • It tells people around that you take responsibility for your actions
  • It makes you a far more approachable person

If “sorry” would have been uttered then and there all over the world,

  • World would have seen lesser number of divorces
  • World would have seen lesser number of hospitals
  • World would have seen lesser number of counseling centers
  • World would have seen lesser number of prisoners
  • World would have seen lesser attrition in organizations 🙂

Just do 2 things for sorry to work well in life,

  1. Accept responsibility and ask sorry without any hesitation (Push yourself to say the 5 letter word)
  2. When someone says sorry, appreciate it and just accept it as a sign of realization and not as a starting point to criticize the individual

Let us strive towards creating a value rich generation and not a wallet rich generation

Frequently asked Interview Questions – Standard or Substandard???

There is one thing I hate about the HRs/Interviewers. I am not generalizing all of them. But some HRs/Interviewers mock (Either after the candidate has left or right on the candidate’s face) at the way prospects/candidates answer questions thinking that there is absolutely no flaw in the questions asked by them. This blog is from my experience after attending nearly 30 interviews till now and from my peers’ experiences. The questions that they pose and the answers that they expect really fuddle me.

When you want a concrete/specific answer, then the question asked must as well be specific. Here are some sample questions asked by interviewers.

Tell me about yourself:

There cannot be a more generic question than this. I can talk any crap that comes to my mind. If HRs/Interviewers expect the prospect to tell about his work experience, then the question must be “Tell me about your work experience”. If they expect something specific in ones work experience and if they want to know a little about the personal qualities, the question should be like “Tell me who are your clients, what you did for them and what tools you used in the project. Also, state some of your hobbies, soft skills that you have and your best positive qualities?” Wouldn’t this give clarity to the prospect as to what he should do?

If you ask about the prospect’s work experience, some will try to tell all the things that they have done and some might keep it crisp. The ultimate aim of the prospect will be to sell himself in a way that he thinks will fit the requirement. He just can’t predict what you expect or what is running on your mind.

Some interviewers cut short by showing faces and try to ask them about something else. In reality, how is the prospect supposed to know if the employer is looking for his soft skills, attitude towards things, work experience, mix of all etc. If it was the interviewer who asked the prospect “Tell me about yourself”, he has to pitch in every time and drive the prospect in such a way that he/she answers specific to his expectations.

You want the prospect to be confident. But when such a generic question is asked, the prospect is not sure about what you are expecting and how do you expect him to be very confident about what he is saying. Confidence comes only when there is clarity.

If the prospect is going to beat around the bush even after the question is specific, then that is different. Firstly, the HR/Interviewer has to take the onus of being specific. They just blindly cannot impute the fault to the prospects.

The primary reason why interviewers are not listening in a very involved manner when someone starts to tell about himself/herself is that they ask this question just for the sake of initiating. If the interviewer does some homework on what he wants as an answer to that question, he will surely drive the prospect towards that.

Where do you find yourself 5 years/10 years from now?

Do you know where you will find yourself next moment?

I once told that I want to be a soft skills trainer/child psychologist or I will be striving hard to become one when I was asked “Where do you find yourself 10 years from now”. The HR looked at me bizarrely and asked “how would this role help you achieve that.” “The role as such wouldn’t help me much. 10 years from now is a very long time. That is my aspiration. Now I work to earn to make a comfortable living” I replied.

Of course I didn’t get through the interview. If I were to ask the HR the same question, what would she say? When we see new things in life, we get different exposures and based on that, we might change our desires, aspirations etc. If you were to ask me for the year or so, I can answer your question. 5 years is way too much. Please don’t ask question for the sake of asking it. Do you think you will get any reasonable answer if you ask this? Every answer for this question would be fictitious.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

First coming to strengths – The prospect starts narrating his strengths;

Prospect: My positives are I am optimistic, I have a never say die attitude, I don’t panic in tough situations Bla Bla Bla.

HR: Can you narrate an incident at work to substantiate that you haven’t panicked in tough situations.

Nothing comes to the prospect’s mind immediately as every prospect goes through some degree of nervousness during an interview.

HR assumes that he can’t even state a situation or sometimes the HR would try to trick him. HR would ask “You said that your project manager was bad and unprofessional. Why have you succumbed to a tough situation because you are trying for jobs now?”

Prospects would give their own reasons and it would go on and on. But I feel this isn’t the right way to validate a person’s strength.

Aren’t there ways to judge how a person reacts to situations rather than asking him/her for past situations? Will the HR be able to give 2 instances right away where he has motivated people?

Give the prospect a difficult situation and find out how he tackles it. Give him a problem and check out if he is an optimist. Why can’t the interviewers think of any situations and ask the candidates? Isn’t that their lack of preparation? A good interviewer will try to get the answers from the candidate through different methods. I have seen a few.

Now let us take the weaknesses part: Commonly stated weaknesses – Anger, Perfectionist. Anger is good in certain places and being a perfectionist is good in certain ways. They are context specific. So, people play safe with weaknesses like these. If any other weaknesses are stated like I am unorganized, I am lackadaisical, etc.  then these are correlated to work directly. If HRs just have the intentions to know if someone is confessing honestly, then people would state those. Else, they would wear the mask of a God. It is actually better to avoid these questions. Anyway the answers are going to be fictitious and not the self-realized ones

Why do you want to switch jobs?

Obviously there is a need for a switch right? It might be Salary, Poor environment, Cranky Manager, Politics, Peer Pressure (Salary, role) etc.

I personally know a HR who is in his 7th job in 6 years. He also asks the same question to the prospects.

People definitely have a reason to switch which many conservative Indian HR minds are not ready to accept. So prospects beat around the bush. Why should it always be the fault of the prospect regarding the job stability and why not the fault of the employer for project stability, for misusing the employee saying that there are lot of projects, for not giving hike etc.

I guess the standard questions need to be relooked at to improve the interview standards. Prospects tone, attitude towards the problems given to him in the interview, credibility in his points, conviction in his answers etc and many more are parameters to judge the candidate rather than these stupid generic questions.

Leave your views/suggestions on this. 🙂

STA-STA-STA-STA-Stutterers – ACCEPT THEM

I was born with a stuttering defect. The first time I stuttered, my parents noticed me saying “P-P-P-P-Play” and they noticed me stutter few other times. I grew up to go to school. I was teased at school by other kids for stuttering. They called me “A-A-A-A-Anand”. I had the question “Why me”? I would be fiercely angry and I have hit few people and I have cried few times as well.

I have such bad memories in school sitting in the back of a classroom. When the teacher told all students ‘everybody is going to read a paragraph’, I skipped ahead to my paragraph and with the fear of being mortified, I read the paragraph enough number of times so that I wouldn’t stutter and stammer when I am called upon.

My parents encouraged me and really took good care of me so that I don’t lose my confidence by comparing myself with my peers. They took me to the speech therapist and I practiced hard. I got rid of it when I was in 7th or 8th. I used to stutter very very rarely at that point. It just couldn’t be noticed after that in fact. The sense of relief was bigger than anything else at that point. But it just left me to visit me 3 years back. I started noticing it again.

That was the time I was pursuing my passion “Toastmasters” (a forum for public speaking). My aspiration is to become a trainer and toastmasters served as the right platform for me to learn and experiment with public speaking. I was 5 months into it and I found myself doing well. Suddenly I noticed me stuttering few words. I became conscious about it. The more conscious I became, the more I stuttered. I feared if I would feel the same way like when I was a kid after so many years. Now, I tried to elude speaking in Toastmasters. I feared to stutter because people there knew me as someone who could talk fluently. I didn’t want them to know. The more I pretended, the more I became conscious and the more I stuttered. I stuttered in front of my club members. People looked at me bizarrely. “Does Anand Stutter?” was their reaction and “WTF! I didn’t want this” was my reaction. I didn’t like my weakness getting exposed to a larger audience. Slowly I was trying to get over it. I realized that to get over it, I had to accept the fact that I stutter but it was very hard.

Not only here, but in many places I feared stuttering. One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter. Given below is a list of incidents,

  • There were times when I struggled to tell the bus conductor my bus stop’s name “Thirumangalam”. I said Th-Th-Th-Th-THrumangalam” and I felt embarrassed when the co-passengers looked at me.
  • There were times when I ordered carrot juice at office and stated that particular name for 15secs – “Ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-carrot juice”.
  • There were times when I felt inferior in front of people who spoke fluently
  • I have held myself back with the fear that I would not communicate my idea well
  • I felt awkward to speak in front of public. I still remember the day when I stuttered in front of 200 people while giving a presentation in my MBA days. I felt totally out of place.
  • The fear if I will stammer in front of a new person i.e. if he would get to know my weakness
  • Even when I attend interview, this stuttering which is natural to me is taken as a sign of nervousness.
  • When my bride search was on, I had the fear if I will be accepted by my partner. Will she think that our kid will also have the same problem and will she neglect me? Yes I have been accepted and thanks to my wife.
  • Post marriage, I fear how to face my in-laws and talk to them without stuttering. If they get to know that I stutter, they would think that I have ruined the life of their daughter. The only person whom I told about this problem before marriage was my wife and I never told her parents.

Fear, Fear and Fear… I hated it.. Fear was almost eating me..

I came across another story which made me write this blog.. A good friend of mine stutters like I do.. He got married recently. He shared his feelings with me 2 weeks back. This is what he had to tell me,

———-My wife keeps telling me “Talk slowly so that you will not stutter”.

I tried hard but sometimes I did make mistakes. I mean I spoke faster and I stuttered. Sometimes because of the presence of in-laws, or new people around, or some sort of stress, I was nervous and I stuttered more.

I once took my wife to a get-together with my friends.

I was so enthusiastic to meet my friends and with the same enthusiasm, I spoke fast without my knowing and I stuttered more times than usual. Immediately after my friends moved away to take their plates for dinner, my wife questioned me “Now why did you stutter? Did you notice why you are stuttering? It is because you are speaking fast. How many times do I tell you to talk slowly? You just don’t seem to listen.”

From that day onwards, whenever I meet with my friends or her friends especially, I become very cautious and I mostly don’t speak a word. When my close one is so watchful of me stuttering, I am pushed to a situation where I have to be cautious. Becoming more and more cautious is making me feel more inferior and it is making me pretend more in an unnatural way. I somehow feel very depressed about this issue. I wanted to share it with you. I would have felt very happy if my wife would have said “I don’t care if you stutter in front of people. All that matters to me is you expressing your views with all courage and completing your sentences without any inhibitions”.———

He wept in the end. I was able to relate to his emotions completely.

“Watch your stuttering, watch your stuttering.. Why did you stutter now?, Talk slowly etc.” When one asks/says these time and again, it hurts very much. Even if one asks this in a concerned manner, it hurts very much. What many people don’t understand is that the stutterer knows much better about his problem, about what he is doing, about what he has to do than the other people around him/her. There is no use in pointing it to them. It seems to them like someone is pointing out at their limitations. Telling someone to watch it every time only makes them more conscious about their way of expressing. By doing this, expressions seem lifeless. To add life to their expressions, try listening to them without taking note of their stuttering. It gives the stutterer immense confidence to talk to you. When someone is with you and stands by you how much ever you stutter, then confidence just oozes out in no time.

Having said all this, I did try out few things to overcome this.

Firstly I accepted that I stutter and I reiterated that to myself. Secondly, I accepted that I can stutter in front of people. This made me less conscious. Then I figured out some other ways to overcome it. I am not sure if stuttering can be cured but I am very sure that stuttering can be minimized to a larger extent by doing the below mentioned things.

  • First step is to bring your breath under control. Do yoga
  • Take a breath after 6 to 8 words are spoken
  • Talk slowly
  • Try out different pronunciations or accents that make you stutter less or that eliminate that stutter. US accent made me stammer less. I tried it off late. US people place stress on a lot of words and I similarly I tried placing stress on words like “Ifff, areee, orrganizedd” and that helps me cope up with the stutter in an efficient way. But I am still finding a way to cope up with my mother tongue Tamil.
  • Last but not the least, Environment to serve as the greatest support

Guys, when you find anyone who stutters, take time out in listening to him/her. He/she might piss you off sometimes by uttering a word for 10 seconds by stuttering, but you can give him immense confidence by listening to him so keenly. You can make or break him with your actions. Environment plays a major role in grooming stutterers. I hope you will extend support to a stutterer when you meet one next time.

Priyanandhan , my good friend has come a long way in life after he joined toastmasters (A supportive environment where one hones his/her public speaking skills). He was confined to himself. He felt he was neglected because of his stuttering. When he found people who accepted him whole heartedly and provided him the warmth, he grew in confidence from a person who wasn’t able to utter his dad’s name to a person who is inspiring many with his speeches.

To conclude, Breaking words is not a sin, but breaking hearts definitely is.

Please share this blog with your friends to create some amount of awareness.