Moonlighting – Is there a problem

Organizations have traditionally objected to employees moonlighting, believing that it can hurt their interests in the long run.

For one, moonlighting can lead to employees working on projects that are not related to their primary job. Thus they may miss important meetings or deadlines due to the time they devote to their secondary jobs.

Second, employees who moonlight are less likely to stay at the company for very long. These workers may feel neglected and undervalued by their employers, which could cause them to look for other opportunities elsewhere.

Third, it may also be difficult to monitor employees who are moonlighting. Unlike employees who remain at the company during the day, these workers do not have supervisors who can keep a close watch on their activities to ensure they are doing their jobs properly.

Finally, employees who moonlight may end up stealing proprietary information from their employers and selling this information to their competitors. This can threaten the survival of the organizations they work for, especially if they use the information to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Given this, organizations should consider allowing their employees to moonlight only if it can provide them with certain benefits. For example, such an arrangement could help an organization expand its operations and improve its bottom line if it is able to hire more talented workers with more diverse skills.

However, it is important for these organizations to take the necessary steps to protect their sensitive information and ensure that their employees are doing their jobs properly if they are to allow employees to moonlight. For example, these organizations should limit the number of hours their employees can work at their second jobs and ensure that they do not work on projects that have any connection to their primary jobs. Furthermore, these companies should monitor the activities of their employees to ensure that they are not in possession or have access to confidential information that could hurt the interests of their employers.

Organizations often prohibit their employees from moonlighting because it can be detrimental to their overall interests. First, it can be very time-consuming for employees to moonlight, which may cause them to neglect their primary jobs and miss out on important tasks and deadlines. Second, many employees may not be able to balance their two jobs effectively and end up neglecting one or the other. As a result, they may find themselves making costly mistakes in their primary jobs or failing to complete their secondary jobs on time.

Third, some employees may be tempted to use their access to confidential information at their primary jobs to obtain a competitive advantage in their secondary jobs. This could have a serious negative impact and could end up hurting the bottom line of their primary employers.

The reasons why employees choose to moonlight

  1. Financial prospects – When employees feel that they are underpaid or not able to meet their financial needs, they look for alternatives or side hustles that could provide them with much-needed support.
  2. Career prospects – When employees do not see career growth prospects or see that there are not enough possibilities or opportunities to expand their roles, then they may choose to find or work towards greener pastures. This they do to secure their future prospects.
  3. Workload – Employees may find that they are being overloaded with work and the financial rewards are not commensurate, then they may be looking at moonlighting as an option to safeguard their prospects in case they eventually choose to quit their primary jobs. It could also be that they do not have enough work in their primary jobs and would like to use their spare time to explore options outside.
  4. Learning opportunities – When employees find that there are not enough opportunities to learn and enhance their skills in their primary jobs, they would find gigs that would help them not just learn but also additionally give them some money as an added benefit.
  5. Lack of trust – When employees see signs that their jobs are not secure and their employer is laying off people and/or there is news/gossip that goes around about such an eventuality, then they may choose to moonlight as a defensive response to safeguard their own interests in case such an eventuality does occur.

There could be many more reasons unique to each employee. It is for organizations to be able to proactively deal with the eventuality of employees moonlighting and take corrective action that could help mitigate the business risks.

One must remember, that as much as organizations can look for a diversified business portfolio based on the changing market conditions, employees are entitled to do the same.

One can’t complain!

Work-life balance – A mirage you may well stop chasing

Working women would definitely relate to this one! and the men too…

Have you ever found that going on a dream vacation and coming back refreshed and ready to take on the world once again is sort of a myth?

Does your nature help in getting work-life balance?

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You are not alone!

Moving back from seeing the extraordinary comforts of someone cleaning up our rooms, and making beds every day to doing endless loads of laundry to meeting workplace deadlines can be a wake-up call.

The reality of what lies ahead of us in our “real life” is intimidating, to say the least.

I find that many of us struggle to reconcile our desire to do great work and be a great spouse/parent/daughter/friend. We might in the name of work-life balance aim for perfection in every area and fall short, sometimes spectacularly so, and on a regular basis.

Work is not only the creative outlet we so desperately seek, but it helps us support our family in a meaningful way.

As a working parent, you would have experienced the fact that every minute you spend at work is the time you are not spending with your kids and family, and there is a certain amount of guilt and frustration that comes with that reality.

Work from home as many would have thought would bring in the much-needed balance in their life ended up being no more than a ‘mirage’.  Being surrounded by noisy kids, elders, and family, in general, demanding your attention has been draining, to say the least for many. 

For working women, possibly the time away from home and the commute to the office would have been such a welcome break daily was suddenly taken away.  They seem to be now the first and the last to get in and out of bed, what with massive amounts of laundry, meals to be made, floors to be kept clean, making beds for others and the chores are endless.  This has not changed much as even for those who have had house help handy.  Supervising them and getting all of it done would have been more frustrating than managing employees and/or colleagues at work.

Many I know of have done away with such help as they always felt that the work done was not according to the standards that they have in mind. 

This problem was accentuated for all those who have ‘Perfectionism’ as a personality trait.  It is starting to take a toll on their physical and mental wellness.

It is also resulting in increased levels of absenteeism at work leading to piling up work and stress.

Do you ever experience a day where you feel as if you have provided your kids with the love and attention they require, in addition to delivering excellent work and getting some time alone to unwind and recharge? The answer may actually, be a no.

On numerous occasions, one or two of the topics have been addressed while the others have been neglected. More often than you’d like, you would have found yourself losing your temper with children, and possibly have trouble concentrating fully on your work.

I frequently get the impression that we could never realistically attain decompression and recharge.

The hardest lesson in all this is to learn on this quest for balance is that you can’t be flawless. The true fallacy is that balance is a kind of perfection in and of itself.

Giving 100% to everything all the time is out of balance; you need to take from some areas and contribute to others to balance them. That has been a hard truth for most to accept.

Can you truly achieve the elusive work-life balance?  Is it a mirage that you have been chasing?

One way I have been able to get a semblance of balance is to not expect a perfect life.  I would like to take life as a continuous journey where I am able to soak in the experiences as they come along.  The breaks for me are just pitstops to cool the engine down and not as another means to goals like having a bucket list (aka to-do list) as some would have it.

Balance can be achieved by doing nothing – a sort of ‘stillness’.  It is like the handheld weighing scale held by the street vendor.  He has to hold it ‘still’ to get the measurements right.

There could be many more ways to understand whether you truly can accomplish the so-called work-life balance or what could be potentially coming in your way of dealing with this mirage.

Becoming self-aware and understanding what in your inherent nature/trait contributes to your sense of well-being and of the environment you live in.

By the way, it’s not just the working women but men too who have been at the receiving end of this elusive mirage.

DM me for a self-assessment if you are one among many who seek balance!

Exponentially Boost Your Employee Success

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Looking to exponentially boost your employee success? As a human resource manager and business leader, the one thing that runs in your mind is about boosting employee success which would eventually lead to your business success.

If that resonates with you, then you are also confronted with managing the critical balancing act on one of the ‘competing values’ as Quinn’s Model illustrates – that of ‘Results’ Vs. ‘People’.

You notice that when you fiercely drive business and that becomes your only focus, the people side of the story does get hit – though that is never your intention. The problem is that you are so intensely in pursuit of achieving the results that you almost always lack the time to invest in your ‘People’.

You may argue that you do have a strong employee engagement program in place.

Why then do we see an increasing rise in attrition and the level of stress in employees?

Why are more and more people looking for and talking about the need for work-life balance?

It’s time that you started looking beyond the obvious and the ordinary.

Employee Family Wellness Program

Families are important in our lives because, for better or worse, we often adopt the routines and demeanors of those who are close to us. They influence everything about us, including what we think, feel, and even do.

Therefore, incorporating the families of employees in those activities might be a wise option for those who lead employee wellness programs in organizations and are considering potential initiatives to help employees stay on the path to better health and wellness.

Why? Because absolutely nobody can better affect the physical and mental wellness of your employees than their family members.  No not even you or your employees’ doctors.

The effect of Family on Health and Wellness of employees.

Have you ever tried to kickstart a new habit, like an early morning exercise routine?  If you see your spouse or partner still in bed when you wake up, it will be much more difficult for you to drag yourself out of the house to exercise.  You may be tempted to stay back as well.  On the other hand, you’ll both commit to going together it may be a lot easier and you can push each other on days when one feels a little lazy.

The same is valid for other facets of well-being and health. Consider what happens if you advocate healthy eating at home but your spouse keeps bringing home ice creams and cheeseburgers for the kids.

According to research, when one member adopts a healthy practice, the other partner is more likely to follow suit. For instance, the study discovered that about 70% of men were inclined to increase their level of activity if their spouse did the same. However, without spousal influence, only about 30% made such alterations.  That is almost 50% lower rate of success.

If your employee has a happy family life that is healthy, supportive, and strong then it is more likely to spill over to their workplace.    When employers are able to extend wellness programs to family members, it clearly demonstrates to the employees that their organization cares about their well-being which goes beyond the workplace.

Including families in Wellness Programs

Organizations must find ways to extend the wellness programs to include families which can be an important and very strategic initiative toward a happier and more productive employee.  When an employee knows that there is a whole ecosystem working behind the scenes to keep him and his family safe, he/she would be able to work at his/her full potential.

There is a lot to learn from the Indian Armed Forces in this regard from where my experience of such programs and the immense benefits that it has to offer.

One such benefit is definitely a highly motivated workforce that is physically and emotionally strong!

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“Exponentially Boost Employee Performance”

Toxic is your work culture?

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It is time to STOP living in ‘denial’

“The key to being a good leader is keeping the people who hate you away from those who are still undecided.”

HBR describes Culture as “consistent, observable patterns of behavior in businesses”. It affects the way we interact, communicate, and handle one another. Our decision-making processes, our tolerance levels, and our day-to-day emotions.

Toxic work culture

You’ll see that this definition excludes free lunches, endless vacations, and snacks. These benefits make it easier for people to put up with a bad culture. Driving continual disruption, transformation, digitization, and innovation as a business may seem fantastic.

Not so much, though, if the typical employee isn’t prepared to handle the challenge. Globally, businesses have expressed to us their concern that they are losing their culture. More workplace cultures are becoming a terrible mashup as a result of rising stress.

In my conversations with top HR executives in the last 30 years, I’ve posed the question regarding organizational culture, and they all seem to agree that over 80% of companies suffer from toxic work cultures.

If you were to ask employees privately to describe their organization’s work culture, more than a few might answer; high stress, overload, low morale, insecurity, and toxic leadership.  Though the executive leadership may almost always deny that such a thing even exists in their organization.  They would like to believe that all is hunky dory and would like to use the cover of ‘business results’ to affirm that all is well.

Studies have shown that everything from employee contentment, fatigue, and teamwork to objective metrics like financial performance and absenteeism is influenced by emotional culture.

Numerous empirical studies demonstrate the major influence of emotions on people’s performance on tasks, level of engagement and creativity, level of commitment to their organizations, and ability to make judgments.

Better performance, quality, and customer service were invariably linked to positive emotional cultures. Similar to how unfavorable emotional cultures were linked to high turnover, poor performance, and group anguish, despair, and dread.

When the subject turns to company culture, ongoing stress and negative emotions translate into people not treating each other well.  The leadership styles do have a great influence on company culture.  The question is do leaders influence the culture or does the culture influence the style of leadership?

If we believe that the company culture is made of consistent, observable patterns of behavior, then it is more likely that stressed-out employees and managers may contribute immensely to the toxicity of organizational culture.

In the face of a tough culture where “faster and cheaper” is the norm for businesses, it is easy for leaders to slip into styles that may not serve them in the long run and turn not just their behaviors but also the culture into a toxic one.

Leaders, therefore, need to urgently get out of ‘denial’ and become ‘mindful’ of the influence they have on building the culture in organizations.  They need to own up to the responsibility at all levels.

The problems of toxicity in work cultures are more pronounced than ever post-pandemic.

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What according to you is the fallout of a toxic culture and leadership?

  1. Low morale
  2. High stress
  3. High turnover
  4. Poor performance

Self-handicapping Behavior – Pressing the self-destruct button

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Self-handicapping behavior and fear of failure to some of us are associated with feelings far more damaging than disappointment and frustration, such as embarrassment and shame. As a result, the prospect of failure can be so terrifying that we unconsciously lower our expectations for success. While lowering expectations may appear to be a reasonable approach, the manner in which we do so can result in us unwittingly sabotaging ourselves and others.

Self-handicapping behavior

Brinda, a woman in her late thirties with whom I once worked, had taken a ten-year break from her career in HR to raise two young children. Brinda and her husband decided it was time for her to return to work when her youngest child started kindergarten. Brinda quickly used her network to secure job interviews at four different companies. Despite her insider status and impressive credentials, none of them contacted her for a follow-up interview.

Brinda was deeply embarrassed by her failure, not to mention perplexed. Although she thought she had done her best, it soon became clear that her fear of failure had led her to unconsciously sabotage one opportunity after another. Or, more accurately, it became clear to me quickly. Brinda, on the other hand, was certain she had done everything possible to succeed.

“Look,” Brinda explained, “I understand why the first company turned me down.” “I didn’t have time to research it before the interview because my daughter had a big athletic event, and I promised to bake some cake for the school team.”

Brinda’s account of the second interview revealed an equally unconvincing narrative. “My mom called the night before and I got stuck on the phone with her for three hours. She was upset about my brother and his wife heading for break up, and I felt bad about cutting her off.”

“Well, what happened there was my nails were a mess and I thought I’d have time to do a quick mani-pedi before the interview, but I misjudged the time and got there half an hour late,” Brinda explained of the third interview. Perhaps forty-five minutes. Regardless, they refused to see me. “Are you kidding me?” I could certainly believe it, but I politely declined to nod.

Brinda went on to say that a severe migraine headache had kept her awake the night before her fourth interview. “I was completely exhausted!” “Can you believe I forgot to bring a copy of my resume?” I’m sure I’ll laugh about it later.” I doubted Brinda would find the situation amusing, but I held my tongue once more.

Most people who heard Brinda’s story would recognize an obvious pattern of excuses, avoidance, and self-sabotaging behavior that would almost certainly lead to failure. Brinda, on the other hand, was completely unaware. Her subconscious mind understood that by blaming obstacles for any potential failures, she could avoid the shame and embarrassment she feared.

Fear of failure drives many of us to engage in self-handicapping behaviors in which we exaggerate or create impediments to success without even realizing it.

Indeed, in order to have something to blame for our failure, we are often extremely creative in the self-handicapping devices we construct.

Many of us procrastinate and “run out of time” before a big test. We might go out with friends and drink too much the night before a big presentation, or we might sleep too little. We might leave our study materials at a friend’s house or on the subway. We might forget to pack the baking tray for the city-fair baking contest, or we might arrive at the marathon with only our left sneaker. And, as Brinda demonstrates, we can create an infinite number of physical ailments.

If we succeed despite these setbacks, we can give ourselves extra credit for succeeding when the odds were stacked against us.

Self-handicapping, of course, rarely leads to success. Furthermore, such strategies prevent us from accurately examining our failures and drawing useful conclusions about what we should change or do differently in the future.

Even when someone else points it out, the unconscious nature of self-handicapping can make us miss it.

Brinda was initially convinced that all of her excuses were valid and that her failure was the result of events over which she had no control. When I suggested otherwise, she replied, “You don’t expect me to break a promise to my daughter, do you?”

When we fail repeatedly or respond to failures in ways that undermine our confidence, self-esteem, and chances of future success, we risk turning our emotional cold into psychological pneumonia.

Because much of the anxiety associated with failures can compound, it is best to be cautious and seek help as soon as possible after significant or bothersome failures occur.

Which one of the following self-handicapping behaviors do you think affects people the most?

  1. Procrastinating
  2. Brooding
  3. Excusing
  4. Blaming

Honey, I shrunk myself!

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Top batters in the game of cricket have long claimed that when they’re in form the ball literally seems bigger to them (and therefore easier to hit). Not surprisingly, when their form deserts them and they are in a slump they report that the cricket ball appears smaller and more difficult to hit.  They seem to mishit more often than connect.

I decided to test this phenomenon of how the chatter in our brain especially after a failure impacts our performance and shrinks our self-confidence and self-esteem.

I asked a group of participants to kick a  football through a makeshift goal from a ten-yard distance. Each participant was asked to take ten kicks. Before starting, all the participant’s estimates of the width and height of the goal were very similar.

I observed after all had completed their attempts at the goal, those who failed at the task by scoring fewer goals were estimating the goal of being far narrower than those who succeeded.  The participants who succeeded were estimating the goal to be wider and the distance for taking the shot as shorter.

It seems that “failure” can make our goal seem literally more difficult and more imposing than it appears before you begin your attempt. Failure not only makes our goal appear larger, but it would also makes us feel “smaller”.

Failing can induce thoughts that make us feel less capable, less skillful, less competent, less intelligent, or even less attractive.  Such thoughts seem to have a huge negative impact on our self-confidence and on future efforts and outcomes.

I’ve come across many college students who after failing a midterm test, might view themselves as less capable and view the class as more difficult, making them more worried and less confident about doing well in the final exam. While some students may work harder as a consequence, others may be so intimidated that they begin questioning their ability to pass the class ever in the future.

But what if that failed midterm also happened to be their first college exam? What if they perceive not just the class but college as a greater challenge than they are capable of meeting? Because they are unaware that failing the midterm has distorted their perceptions (making the class and college appear more difficult than they are), they may make hasty and inappropriate decisions as a result. Indeed, many students drop out during their first year for this very reason – similar to kid #1 in my earlier post on failure.

Failure has a greater negative impact on our self-esteem. Many of us react to failures by drawing damaging conclusions about our character and abilities that seem extremely compelling at the time, even if they have no merit. Many of us react to failure by thinking or saying things like, “I’m such a loser,” “I can’t do anything right,” “I’m just not smart enough,” “I’m such an idiot,” “I deserve to lose,” “People like me never get anywhere,” and “Why would anyone want to hire me?” or similar assassinations of characters.

Few would argue that such depressing and ineffective thoughts have any redeeming qualities. Yet, all too often, we allow ourselves to indulge in them, utter them aloud, and validate them. If our six-year-old failed a spelling test and declared, “I’m a stupid loser who can’t do anything right,” most of us would rush in to refute every word and forbid him from ever saying such horrible things about himself again.

Such negative thoughts would, without a doubt, make him feel worse in the moment and make it more difficult for him to succeed in the future. Yet, far too often, we fail to apply the same logic and wisdom to our own situations.

Negative generalizations are not only inaccurate, but they do more harm to our general self-worth and future performance than the initial failure that spawned them. Criticizing our qualities so broadly makes us hypersensitive to future failures, can lead to deep feelings of shame, and can jeopardize our overall well-being.

Furthermore, doing so prevents us from accurately assessing the causes of our failure and avoiding similar errors in the future. For example, blaming our inability to achieve personal improvement goals on character flaws makes it unlikely that we will identify and correct critical errors in planning and strategic goal setting that is far more likely to be to blame for our failure.

When faced with failure, which one of these according to you is more likely to occur?

  1. Internalizing – self-doubt
  2. Externalizing – Blame outside forces
  3. Withdrawal – quitting
  4. Other – mention in comments

Emotional chills could turn into psychological pneumonia

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I visited a daycare center run by a friend of mine.  As I sat observing a group of four tiny kids playing in one corner of the room, I got to reflect on how we respond to failures in our life and the impact it has on our emotional well-being.

Here is what I saw.

Emotional chills

The four were playing with identical Teddy-in-the-box toys. To open the box and release the cute teddy bear inside, they must slide a large button on the box’s side to the left. They somehow seemed to figure out that the button is where the action is, but sliding is a difficult skill to master.

I saw Kid #1 depress the button. It was immobile. She pressed the button firmly. The box starts rolling away from her. She tries reaching out with her hand, but it is still out of reach. She turns away and begins to twiddle her thumb and play with her diaper.

Kid #2 fiddles with the button for a few moments before giving up. He sits back and stares at the box, his lower lip trembling, but he doesn’t open it. Tears welled up in his eyes.

Kid #3 tries to force open the top of the box. She then presses the button. Undaunted, she continues to experiment until ten minutes later—success! Teddy squeaks out as she slides the button, and the top springs open. She squeals with delight, replaces Teddy in the box, and tries again.

Kid #4 notices the third child opening her box. He flushes, smacks his own box with his fist, and bursts into tears.

When we fail as adults, we tend to react in very similar ways (albeit few of us resort to playing with our diapers). Failure can make us believe that our goals are out of reach, leading us to give up too soon (as did kid #1, whose box rolled away).

Some of us are so demoralized by failure that we freeze, become passive, and helpless (like kid #2, who quit).

Some of us fail but persevere until we succeed (like kid #3), while others become so stressed and self-conscious that we can’t think straight (like kid #4, who burst into tears).

How we deal with failure is critical to our overall happiness and well-being as well as our success in life. While some of us handle failure well, many of us do not. Failure always hurts and disappoints, but it can also be an educational, informative, and growth experience if we take it in stride, figure out what we need to do differently the next time, and persevere in pursuing our goals. However, as with many psychological wounds we sustain in daily life, ignoring the injuries failure inflicts can exacerbate a bad situation, and in some cases, make it far worse.

None of us reaches adulthood without encountering failure thousands of times, and many more such encounters await us in life. Failure is such a common human experience that what distinguishes us is not that we fail, but how we respond when we do. Such distinctions are especially noticeable when observing those who fail more frequently and frequently than anyone else’s children.

One of the most common ways for children to learn is to try, fail, and try again. Fortunately, children are generally persistent and determined (otherwise, we’d never learn to walk, talk, or do much of anything), but they can also react to failure in dramatically different ways.

Although our various ways of coping with failure are established early in life, we are not doomed to repeat the mistakes of our childhood. Even those who respond to failures in the most ineffective and damaging ways can learn to use more favorable and psychologically healthy coping strategies.

However, in order to do so, we must first understand the impact failure has on us, the psychological wounds it causes, and the emotional challenges we face.

Failures are the emotional equivalent of chest colds in that everyone gets them, and everyone feels terrible when they do. We usually recover from chest colds because we change our activities when we get them—we rest, drink warm fluids, and dress warmly. If we ignore a cold, it will most likely worsen and, in some cases, progress to pneumonia.

When we fail, we face similar threats to our mental health, but few of us are aware of the need to employ the psychological equivalents of resting, drinking warm fluids, and dressing warmly. As a result, many of our failures cause unneeded psychological harm, the consequences of which can harm our emotional well-being far beyond the impact of the failure itself.

How would you respond?

Ding-dong bell, Donkey in the Well

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One can’t get rid of difficult people from life.  You keep finding them along the way.  Throughout my consulting career, I have come across many people who ask me how they could deal with a difficult boss, colleague, spouse or family, or even client.  I keep thinking about ways in which you could navigate those difficult phases when you are confronted with difficult people.

As I ponder, I am reminded of the old Buddhist story of the Donkey in the Well.

The donkey in the well.  Dealing with difficult people

It so happened that a Donkey that was happily grazing the fields of his master – a farmer, accidentally fell into an empty Well, that was lying abandoned for a long time.  Fortunately for the Donkey, it didn’t get injured and had only minor bruises.  As he stood at the bottom of the Well, he gathered himself and started braying as loud as he could to get the attention of his master.

After about an hour of relentless braying, the master heard his cries and came looking trying to find from where all these cries were coming.  “There you are, it is you who has been creating such a racket. You deserve this” said the farmer to the donkey.

He was not just a cruel man but was long contemplating how to get rid of the old donkey as he felt he was no longer useful to him.  He found this to be a great opportunity.  In fact, he was also thinking of getting the dry well covered as that was of no use to him as well.

“Why not fill the well with mud, so that I can get rid of both the problems in one go?” thought the farmer.  He started to pour mud and dirt into the well with the idea of burying the donkey alive. 

We mustn’t underestimate the intelligence of the donkey though.  Initially, he was shocked at the way he was being treated by the person whom he served tirelessly for so many years.  He began yelling err.. braying louder and louder pleading with his master to spare him his life.  The farmer however didn’t pay any attention to the donkey and continued pouring mud into the well.

The donkey realizing that all his pleas were to no avail, paused and decided that it is best to deal with the situation by himself.  He gathered himself and the next time the farmer poured some dirt into the well, he calmly stepped aside and stomped his feet on the dirt.  He moved one inch above.  Each time the farmer poured mud into the well, he did the same, moving aside, shaking the dirt off from his body, stomping on it, and gaining about an inch in height.  Eventually, he rose enough to reach the top and jump out of the well.  And yes, before running away, he bit the farmer on his bum, just to remind him about how karma will catch up with him one day and bite him back.

This story spoke to me in many ways and more importantly how we can effectively deal with all the difficult people in our life.  The fact that you will always have someone who is ready to throw some dirt on you and make life difficult for you, it is the way you respond to the situation that matters.

Like the donkey in the story, it is best to shake off the dirt, stomp it under your feet and keep rising above.

And don’t forget that bad karma will eventually catch up with difficult people. 

Difficult people are not just difficult on others, but they are the ones who find it equally difficult to deal with themselves. 

How heavy is your Teacup? – Dealing with difficult people

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Stress could be one of the reasons why people become difficult on themselves and others. When you are stressed at work you carry it back home, give folks at home a very hard time, and then because of that hard time at home you have problems with your family that adds to the stress.  You then carry the stress from home back to work.  I see that people are stressed out even before they begin their day.

This vicious cycle of negativity and stress, so much so, that we really must learn to deal with that problem, whether at home or at work.

Dealing with difficult people - disengage

The old Buddhist story – How heavy is the cup?

The longer you hold it, the heavier it feels. If you keep holding it for five minutes, your arm aches, ten minutes – you will be in great pain, if you keep holding this for half an hour then the pain will be unbearable. What should you do when it starts to get heavy? Put it down for five minutes. Try this at home, pick it up again after say about five minutes and it would seem much lighter. Does that mean its weight has changed?  It’s exactly the same weight – it feels lighter because you disengaged with it for a while.  You took a pause, some rest.

The same is with difficult people. The longer you engage with them the more painful it will be.  The more stressed out you will feel as they become more and more difficult with time.  Like with the teacup, it is best to disengage for a moment – maybe take a 10 min. break or go for a walk.  You will feel a bit lighter when you come back and pick up the conversation again.

You would have experienced this yourselves many times at home or in the office.  When we keep engaging with those who are difficult, it does not just anger you, but you end up feeling a whole lot frustrated.  You may even feel exhausted at the end of such conversations, unable to think clearly.  It affects your judgment, and you tend to get caught in the vicious cycle.

Disengage to re-engage meaningfully – a way to deal with difficult people

What other methods do you adopt while dealing with difficult people at work?

That which ‘troubles’ you is your ‘TEACHER’

One such trouble comes from difficult people.

Difficult people and difficult situations in life are common.  You may not ever find a place where you can hide, run away or escape from difficult people.  They are part of life, and you have to accept that fact.

difficult people

You have to also accept the fact that the difficulty of dealing with difficult people comes from you and the way you react to them.

My dad once told me, if you ever find a difficult person, remember that you have to endure them only for a while, but do you know that they have to live with themselves their whole life.  It would be so difficult and painful.

It was such a wonderful reflection that I realize that when I see difficult people, I know that if they are difficult for me to live with, they are also finding it difficult to live with themselves.  It teaches you a very important lesson – of ‘compassion’.

It started to take away the hurt that I feel and directed my attention to the hurt that they may be living with.  It helps me understand what makes them so difficult for others to deal with.

I also come to realize that if they have been so difficult for you, then they would be having no friends, none they can relate to, as they are difficult characters to live with.  They might be so lonely.

You must realize the fact that difficult people may not be around you for a long time.  What lives with you is your thoughts, feelings, and reactions towards such people.

What lessons have you learned from the difficult people in your life?