Category Archives: Humour

Cheap Shots

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Earlier this week I attended an award function, and a communist politician was called to present cheque to a journalist. The host editor declared that he is going to take a cheap shot and said- This is for the first time you would have seen a communist openly giving money to a journalist. The communist, not to be left behind, retorted- yes, but not own money, someone else’s.

In the same function, another politician poked a renowned politician by asking him to -hold on to secularism. This leader’s position has been challenged by his protege recently.

After these cheap shots, I thought of mine. Again this week only, I received a note from another department requesting for some jobs to be done. My boss agreed for some jobs, and declined to do others and asked me to communicate to the originator of the note, who is a year or two junior to me. I called him up and conveyed, he got agitated and said all this while your department was doing these jobs, why no this time. I tried to calm him down, but he persisted and asked me to tell my boss to reconsider, i refused obviously. He said- if you can communicate his message to me, you jolly well communicate my message to him. I was pissed off and remarked- He is my boss, you are NOT. How is that for a cheap shot. That person put down the phone angrily but later called me to pacify.

On an earlier occasion, a senior from other department called me to carry out a job involving financial implication, without any written communication. I asked him to speak to my boss. He said, his boss will talk to my boss. Which he never did. This guy calls me up again in the evening to do the job. I told him, I won’t do until a written letter or someone speaks to my boss, Mr. Chawla (changed for my anonymity). He started shouting to me using his seniority how I do not understand the importance and i bloody well do it. I retorted- I take instructions from Mr. Chawla only. And that shut him up. Why do some seniors think that they can boss around the whole organisation.

Now-a-days I feel like making cheap shots at my boss but I stop myself at last moment. Since he has given better rank than me to another junior, whenever boss gives me some important task and explains the urgency, i feel like saying why don’t you give it to your best performer. But one that will actually be very cheap of me, and second that junior is my favourite performer too, so I don’t want her to be impacted or thinking otherwise.

Though I have been trying to communicate and convey my feelings to boss through twitter and fb messages these days. Daring you say?

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Emotionally competent airhostess by Daniel Goleman

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It was Super Bowl Sunday, when most men are to be found in front of TV. A flight from New York to Detroit was delayed two hours, and the tension among the passengers- almost entirely businessmen- was palpable. When they finally arrived in Detroit, a mysterious glitch with the boarding ramp made the plane stop about a hundred feet from the gate. Frantic about being late, passengers leaped to their feet anyway.

One of the flight attendants went to the intercom. She did not announce in a stern voice, “Federal regulations require that you be seated before we can move to the gate.”

Instead she warbled in a singsong tone, suggestive of a playful warning to an adorable small child who has done something naughty but forgivable- You are staaaaaaaan-ding.”

At that everyone laughed and sat back down until the plane had finished taxiing to the gate. And given the circumstances they got off the plane in a surprisingly good mood.

From- Working with Emotional Intelligence

After reading this story I was reminded of an AIR INDIA flight I took a few months back. The pilot had a similar sense of humour and presence of mind. He spoke in a very friendly and lovable tone in an informal manner. Shared that the flight was delayed because of sudden change in weather. Trip might be bumpy due to rough weather, but he would try to avoid very rough pockets. And when in the short flight, refreshment could not be served due to poor weather, he apologised and said-on your next trip coffee due on me. Loved his informal and personal tone. I would blindly trust such a pilot in case of crash or emergency landing. May his tribe increase.

Award functions

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I wrote the post below on Jun 14, and as luck would have it, I had to go for gate-keeping and seat-warming duty of another award function last week. As usual, it was a pain in as many places it can be.

First of all the anchor. She was so casual about everything. There were CMs, Governors and CEOs of top companies. And she was not well-prepared, poor script and all. Then in corporate award function, she kept asking audience, any guesses in film award style. There was no link between her speech and the video being played. Throughout the programme, the award-specific tune was played intermittently in a very loud, jarring voice. There were typos in the visuals being shown. The welcome and introductory speeches were shamelessly selling the organisers products.

And to top it all, there were prizes for Director (Personnel) and Director(HR) separately for big companies and small companies. Then there was a prize for person of the year. Everyone had a good laugh. Some people suggested that they should start having a prize for men and women categories separately. And then for companies in different turnover groups- 500, 1000, 2000 and so on. You never know, that day may come too.

Award functions have become a joke these days.

From corporate angle, there are at least 100 national awards by as many organizations. Some of the interesting stuff I have noticed about these award functions, i jotted down.

-Most of the organisers are comfortable with assuring you an award, in return  to your company sponsoring their event. I have seen organisers create special categories of awards to include last minute sponsors.

-Speaking of categories, some organisers go very innovative in creating special categories to award all the companies. So if there are 75 companies participating, you would find 75 award categories. So almost no company goes back without an award. I have seen categories like companies with turnover of less than Rs. 25 crore-in the business of matchbox manufacturing. Can you go more micro than that.

-Most of the award functions have laughable audience. Almost half of the people are from organisers. Rest are representatives from different companies and their PR/protocol officers.

-You will meet same set of people in most of the award functions, in same type of hotels, with same venues, same giveaways and same format.

-Some organisers host cocktail and dinner, with the purpose of having more number of participants.

-Anchors are chosen at the last minute, with hastily done up script. Wrong pronunciations, many absentees, and whole script read out looking at prompter and no eye contact with the audience are a common sight.

-Smart organisers hold their events on weekends as they know there are chances of more people coming.

-People who had nothing to do with awards are entering into award business because they see an opportunity to mint money.

-There are many people who win the same award year after year, and still they are delighted every time.

-Many CEOs don’t mind pulling strings to ensure that award comes in their lap.

-Organisers have starting bringing out compendiums, souvenirs and special supplements seeking advertisements/advertorials from companies.

-There are pre-event and post-event reports which are again used as opportunity to get advertisements.

-Decision about holding many of such events are taken at very last minute resulting in chaos and confusion till the event is over.

Making workplace more enjoyable

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After self-confessed popularity of my blog, few frens have sent me consolation messages and replies @ one per month. Another boost to my ego has been my winning first prize in an article competition in office today. ya, i have this irritating habit of shouting from blog-tops, so here is that article. I won’t tell you though that i won the first prize in this contest which had two prizes and ye-lo, two contestants.

Making workplace more pleasant &enjoyable.


Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do, said Oscar Wilde. And as they say hard work never hurt anybody, but I figure why take the chance. If you are a follower of this philosophy, then you need not bother wasting your time in reading this article any further. You have already achieved your so-called nirvana of two-punch-one lunch.
I know you are one of those people who like your work so much so that you can
keep looking at it for hours without batting an eyelid or pen for that matter. Your day starts with countdown to the morning tea and so it goes on. You have given a new dimension to Maslow’s concept of ‘Self-actualisation’.
For the rest of us lesser mortals, yours truly has tried to gather and jot down certain thoughts on making work fun. First and foremost requirement for this is your attitude. It has to be positive with a capital p. Your attitude determines your altitude goes a clichéd saying. But then clichés are time-tested statements, right! Optimism is in my blood, as my blood group is “Be positive”. For others too it’s only a matter of making a habit of looking at the brighter side of things. That reminds me of the old story of a construction site. Three workers who were laying bricks on the site were asked the same question-
“What are you doing?” Answers were however far from same.
Worker A- Can’t you see, I am laying bricks!
Worker B- I am helping in construction of this huge building.
Worker C- Well, I am lucky that I am one of those laying the foundation of this landmark building. When this building is complete, I can say with pride that I am a member of the team which erected this building.
Same work, remarkably different attitude. Need I say more. Of course, giving a holistic view of things is also important so that employees can internalize the importance of their role in the whole scheme of things. Every one is important and every job is significant.

A  quote by Martin Luther King Junior seems apt here, “If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”
Choice is basically ours, we make the work boring or fun. We are no doubt, helped in this task, by our seniors and peers. Notesheet writing is an important part of our day-to-day jobs. I also used to dread the prospects. But since the day a senior official casually remarked that notesheet writing in PSUs is akin to TOEFL, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, my whole perspective has changed. Now I also try to perfect the art of notesheet writing helped by my seniors. It is fun learning the nuances. E.g. you don’t mark a note to your senior, you always put up a note. Marking is a senior’s prerogative. Noting side, copy-side, numbering of signs, cross-referencing, flagging, highlighting, reiterating, summarizing and the numerous ways in which a proposal can be worded to indicate the actionable and outcome. Public Sector job is cakewalk, you said, huh!
Working in PR has its own challenges. Now you can either get angry during such
moments or laugh them away. I had joined PR way back in 1997, and was
enjoying the chance to cover important events. I was thanking my stars for good
placement, when one day a small girl called over my intercom and asked, “Uncle, is it PR?” Yes, I said. And here comes the big pin to puncture my ego-bubble when she says, “A dog has died in front of our house. Can you please get it removed.?” So much for job importance. But instead of giving her a big lecture on importance of PR, I gave her the number of Health Services Department, and later we had a good laugh at the incident.
The most common hindrance to making the workplace more pleasant and enjoyable, would appear to be- Bosses. Now every boss has a boss and so on, but the refrain will remain the same. From my personal experience of working for 18 years, I have found that bosses always seem to be wrong. But in the same vain, I would add, at the cost of sounding a hypocrite, that in retrospect, every boss I worked with has made me a better manager in one way or the other. It might be unintentional or well-intentioned, but it did happen. That has made me wiser not to complain about bosses’ attitude and rather learn from it – to be like that or not be like that. This happy-go-lucky attitude has helped me enjoy work much more. Any takers for the idea!
As for more pleasant and enjoyable experiences, you just need to be a keen observer of your surroundings at workplace. Believe me, it’s a jungle out there. That includes the observer too, of course. There are people with crab-mentality, peers shedding crocodile tears, there are hares/horses and then there are tortoises/donkeys, people with catty attitude and dog’s bark and bite too, then there is your mouse chasing cheese and fishes of many types, ants and elephants, the list is endless. I have dealt with this subject in another article of mine titled “Management Panchtantra”, where I admitted to have the
qualities of all these animals before you pounce on me for being judgemental.
At times you tend to be frustrated with the way things are. But then the best way to look at things at those times is to adhere to the philosophy, “If you can not cure it, you must endure it.” Or as Gandhiji said to the effect that Be the change you want to see in the world. If even this does not help, think global, and ponder “Does it really matter?” “Kyaleke aaye the, kya leke jana hai” funda.
Because workplace or any other place, life goes on while we make other plans. So we better get hold of things and catch up. In the words of Samuel Johnson, “Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought, our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.”
Another quality that can make our lives easier is to be grateful. In these times when everyone is talking of job-cuts and pay-freezes, we are safe and secure waiting for our wage revision. We must be thankful to the Almighty for all these mercies and consider our work not a chore or burden, but a duty and responsibility. We are getting paid for it, and well-paid at that. Enjoyment and pleasure will automatically follow.
In the end, I would just say that for making workplace more pleasant and enjoyable, we need to realize that happiness is a state of mind and it comes from within. So, let the fun begin.

English Vinglish

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An acquaintance recently shared an incident about the flexibility of english lang.
A boss had marked a training related paper to his junior. The paper was a request for nomination of one person for attending the training. Boss wrote “Please attend” and marked it to that junior. After two days, when junior submitted that paper with a note for tour approval, boss had a change of mind. He refused to allow, but he had marked on the paper, and he did not want to overwrite. So his creative solution! he added ” to this”, so making the noting read as “Please attend to this”. Hmmmm.
This reminded me of oft-quoted similar incident, maybe false. There was this top boss who received a proposal for approval. Apparently, he was not given his cut, so he remarked “Not approved”. Affected party approached him, requested, gave his cut and asked to amend the remarks. He just added an E. So “Not approved” became “Note approved”. Imaginative na!
Then there is this incident of my angreji-gyan. I have this foot-in-mouth disease since long, you see. Years back, I was sitting in front of my boss with a lady colleague. We were just chatting. I made some funny comment on the lady colleague. Boss smiled naughtily. I explained, “I was just pulling her legs.” Bosses are bosses. He corrected my angrezi then and there in front of her and said, “Sanjay the phrase is pulling-her-leg. Pulling her legs has a totally different meaning.” That office was on ground floor, or I woould have jumped out of the window. Thank god for the lady, she pretended not to understand. I have many such goof-ups to my credit.

Humour at Work

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Humour keeps you going, at work or at home.

Some instances happen by chance, which remain in your memories for long.

Typos in office are always a great sense of humour. We in PR Department get tenders published in newspapers for purchase or sale of items. One such tender was going for publication and at the very last moment it came to me for final look, and what I noticed was the tender for sale of TMT BARS was going to newspapers, with the two middle letters of the word BARS interchanged because of a typo. Thank god we noticed it there otherwise next day would have entirely changed the line of business of our company, with an entirely unique product.

Another typo was in the same vein. We had a national level seminar and I was coordinating with the Emcee / Compere for the final script. After various rounds of emailing, when the script was to be given final go-ahead, I noticed that in the phrase public sector undertaking, she had forgotten the letter-L in the word PUBLIC. We had a good hearty laughter imagining what would have happened if she had actually read that script.

At times, humour is at your cost. One such example is when I and a lady colleague were sitting with our boss. I was trying to make fun of the colleague, and just to make things clear, I said I was just pulling your legs. And our ever-intelligent, ever-smartass boss remarked in front of her- You were really pulling her legs, because I did not see you do that, I thought you were pulling her leg. He was correcting my usage of the idiom, of not using legs but leg. However his visual description embaraased the lady colleague a lot.

Same show-off boss once shouted at me in front of many colleagues. I went to him later and said, you praise in public and reprimand in private is a basic management principle. So please follow that. Next time when he wanted to shout again, he came to the hall and told me in front of others-Come to my room, I need to take you to task, and you don’t want me to shout at you in front of others. So the treatment proved to be worse than the disease. How considerate.

While working in an insurance company branch, I was also appearing for my Masters exams. There were four papers and tests were every alternate day. After taking a test in the first half, I went to office in 2nd half. Branch Manager called me and asked how did the test go. I said fine. Then he advised that I should have rested, so that next day I can prepare well for the other test. And he could not control his laughter when I replied nonchalantly, “That is why I have come to office Sir.”

Recently our office is undergoing renovation, and plan is to assign new cubicles to all. Hinting at my heavy weight, I joked in front of our boss that cubicle size should be as per weight of the employee, so I should get a bigger cubicle. Not to be left behind, she replied tongue-in-cheek that it should be the other way round, so that you guys are encouraged to lose weight. Boss is boss.

By the way, did I tell you that a few months after my joining PR Department, a little girl called and asked- Uncle, is it PR Department. To my yes- she responded, there is a dead dog lying in front of our house. Can you please get it removed. What a morale-booster that was about image of our department.