TCDLive Weekend Lounge Talk Show

The TCDLive Weekend Lounge talk show aims to bring forth dialogue that often do not get the attention or people find it difficult to engage in. With the talk show as a medium guest and attendees explore a wide range of topics that could help them fully realize and reach their potential.

Disclaimer: The views, information, or opinions expressed during the TCDLive Weekend Lounge show/series are solely those of the individuals, authors, guest speakers who come on the show and do not necessarily represent those of The Critical Dialogue, its constituents, and partners, and its employees and clients.  The Critical Dialogue and its constituent partners are not responsible for any harm physical and/or psychological arising out of carrying out / following the views expressed and/or advice on this show.  This show is also not a substitute for any professional medical/non-medical advice.  Viewer discretion is advised.

S1E1: The Color of your SKIN doesn’t matter

Date: 25th September 2021
Host: Sree Kumar, Founder & CEO, The Critical Dialogue
Guest: Nageen Riffat (Nyn), Founder, Nyn’s Dreams

It was such an engaging session with our guest Nyn, on the TCDLive Weekend Lounge talk show.  The icing on the cake was so many turned up in support of the cause.

We’ve just scratched the surface

As the conversation moved along with Nyn’s story of her journey, her struggles, moments of vulnerability, withdrawal, emotional upheavals, to her transformation, and success; the show not just had its share of insightful moments, but had our attendees joining in with their own perspectives that were profound.
Women of color end up facing a wide range of micro-aggression

What was interesting yet painful to note was that despite so many years of discussing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion DEI, women of color face a significant amount of discrimination, bias, and harassment at the workplace.

  1. Being judged
  2. Questions on their ability
  3. Exclusion
  4. Suspecting their decision-making
  5. Questioning their commitment to the job, especially after motherhood
  6. Performance-related biases

Are some of the experiences that seem to take a heavy toll on women and are three times more for the women of color, who are victims of micro-aggressions.

Nyn shared with us briefly how she was able to overcome not just a wide range of micro-aggressive behavior at the workplace but go on to become resilient and successful.  In a world that was far away from her homeland, completely alien was something to really learn from.  She provided us with some ways in which that could be achieved.

  1. Believing in herself
  2. Continual improvement and upskilling
  3. Building a strong network of allies at the workplace
  4. Always looking to add value (focusing on what she can do to make a difference)
  5. Her willingness to seek help
  6. Developing high levels of self-awareness leading to,
  7. Enhanced self-worth and high-level of confidence

While the focus was on the challenges faced by women of color, this episode was all about the journey of an Asian Woman.

The next episode is to continue the dialogue on the challenges because of micro-aggressions faced by black women at the workplace. 

“It is harder for Black employees to advance organically from entry-level to managerial jobs; their attrition rates are higher, and many report a trust deficit and a lack of sponsorship and allyship.”

S1E2: Workplace harassment and bullying

Date: 2nd October 2021
Host: Sree Kumar, Founder & CEO, The Critical Dialogue
Co-host: Nageen Riffat, Founder Nyn’s Dreams
Special Guest: Oluwafemi aka (FEMI) Omotola, CEO, Owner, and Lead-HR Consultant, Shalom Shalom Consulting inc. ca.

It was such an engaging session with our guest Femi, on the TCDLive Weekend Lounge show.  The icing on the cake was like always so many turned up in support of the cause.

We continued from where we left last time..

This time the discussion on workplace harassment and bullying focused on black women of color and especially those who migrated to their host country with dreams in their eyes.

It was our special guest Femi who shared her journey in her own inimitable style that was not just engaging but came straight from the heart.  

“I had a spring in my walk when I migrated to Canada, with two master’s degrees, one in sociology and the other in industrial relations.  I didn’t think that I will encounter what I encountered when I got to the shores of my host country. The first thing that hits me was okay. My skin is black. I never thought about that before, when I was back home because everybody is the same, the same complexion basically.”

With her husband job-hunting and three children in tow, the start was not the ideal that I had expected.  She went on to share how she had to face up to harassment and bullying as she tried to settle in and take off on her journey.  Her story provided deep insights into her struggles, moments of vulnerability, withdrawal, emotional upheavals, to her transformation, and success; the show not just had its share of insightful moments, but had our attendees joining in with their own perspectives that were profound and a great learning experience.

Women of color end up facing a wide range of micro-aggression

What was interesting yet painful to note was that despite so many years of discussing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion DEI, women of color face a significant amount of discrimination, bias, and harassment at the workplace.

  1. Being judged
  2. Questions on their ability
  3. Exclusion
  4. Suspecting their decision-making
  5. Questioning their commitment to the job,
  6. Performance-related biases
  7. Receiving undue flak
  8. Not getting due credit for their success,

Some of the consistent themes we could hear while Femi went on to share her journey, that had their fair share of ups and downs.  From starting as a self-confident woman to losing it and regaining it as she navigated the emotional roller-coaster.  What she said was that not many are able to see what is going in inside the mind of a person who has to endure harassment and bullying on a daily basis.

She shared how the state of her mind and in her office was starting to take a heavy toll on her family, who had to take the brunt of it all.

When asked about how she was able to overcome the challenges and what is her advice to high-potential young black women who aspire to reach leadership levels in the organization, she had these few things to say.

Ways to stay on top of your game

  1. You must always invest in yourself, try and keep learning, developing your skill-sets and competencies so that you do not just match up but can be better than anyone in that role
  2. Find out what you are passionate about and invest some time taking it up, even if it is a side-hustle.  That can boost your confidence to new levels.
  3. Do not be afraid to speak up.  Bring difficult conversations to the table sooner than you do, so that you do not have to lose your sleep over it daily.
  4. Identify the early signs that you are becoming a victim of harassment and bullying, by listening to your body.  If you are not sleeping well, that could be one of the first signs.
  5. Build strong allyship.  Have someone who you trust and can share what you are going through.  It can act as a catalyst in overcoming the myriad problems you face.  That someone or people can act as your personal advisory board.
  6. Learn to make use of the employee assistance programs.  Do not be afraid of reprisal.
  7. Stop wearing masks and be your authentic self
  8. Whatever it is you love to do or take up – just start.  No matter how big or small the initiative is.  Start strong and stay the course.

Femi shared, how she not just started her entrepreneurial journey, setting up a consulting firm that would focus on creating an organizational culture that is truly inclusive, she also started a side-hustle by setting up a separate project, that of selling African fashion accessories and cultural artifacts.  That really gives her immense satisfaction and joy.

Insights from a few of our fellow attendees


“I believe that you need to build allyship and be the strong person and voice of reason! As a leader in my organization, we have developed Employee Resource Groups where we build up and embed DEI”
“it’s time to have a courageous conversation..  I insert myself professionally no matter what”
“I’m blessed to be in a global organization where DEI is embedded in all our people, product, and services daily”
“It’s vital to find an organization whose values align with both your personal and professional values.”
“instances of bullying are on the rise when cos are either performing badly or during crisis situations like covid? Its a means of trying to get people to leave”
“Most stem from the fact that the leadership is not committed to implementing safe workspace policies that already exist in organizations.  It must start at the top”
Angela Gala
“There are times, leadership resorts to means that are intentionally designed to force employees to leave”
“Most of the time the problem is at the top, and it will prevail as long as the leadership remains the same.”
“I quit my full-time job and started my own practice.  No more harassment and no more bullying”
Vikas Singh
Bullying and discrimination happen because:
1. Poor leadership – 
2. Poor team coordination and poor peer support.
3. Lobbying and voluntary ignorance from management (low to high, including HR, etc) and colleagues 

What can we do?

  1. We can grow stronger – awareness and preparation (somehow talking about it actively and passively)
  2. Focus on wellbeing 
  3. Maybe sometimes empathy for the bully (maybe he/she had a challenging background of being bullied self also). And try not to take things personally.

What are the positive outcomes:

  1. We can ask openly in the interview about the company’s discrimination policy and bullying policy. Ethical behavior etc.
  2. Talk to other employees working there and listen to their feedback. 
  1. Identifying bullies and confronting the situation with respect and acknowledgment. Sometimes the bulky do not know about his/her behavior. 
  2. Focus on self-wellbeing and self-preservation

Judith Carmody
“It’s imperative that we start to sensitize people early in their life and career.  Maybe it’s time we looked at teaching at schools and colleges and even parents about the negative effects of bullying and harassment.  Teach them how to deal with it effectively when they grow up and have to face it in the corporate world”

While the focus was on the challenges faced by women of color, this episode was all about the journey of an African woman of color.  Femi’s journey is an eye-opener and definitely a small step in furthering the cause of making our workspaces safe and free from harassment and bullying.

The next episode is to continue the dialogue on the challenges because of micro-aggressions faced by employees at the workplace.

S1E3: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

S1E3: Organizations Must Stop Shouting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Date: 9th October 2021

Host: Sree Kumar, Founder & CEO, The Critical Dialogue
Co-host: Nageen Riffat, Founder, Nyn’s Dreams
Special Guest: Torrey Davis, I/O Psychology, Organizational Strategist, Founder, Davis IOP Consulting

Disclaimer:the views, information, or opinions expressed during the TCDLive Weekend Lounge show / series are solely those of the individuals, authors, guest speakers who come on the show and do not necessarily represent those of The Critical Dialogue, its constituents and partners, and its employees and clients.The Critical Dialogue and its constituent partners are not responsible for any harm physical and/or psychological arising out of carrying out / following the views expressed and/or advise on this show.  This show is also not a substitute for any professional medical/non-medical advice.  Viewer discretion is advised.

It was such an engaging session with our guest, Torrey, on the TCDLive Weekend Lounge show.  The icing on the cake was so many turned up in support of the cause.

Behind the scenes

I was having a conversation with Torrey about the topic of workplace harassment and bullying and how people of color need to stop complaining and playing the victim all the time and start learning ways to “navigate” the rough and tumble of the corporate world; he had this to ask me….

“Sree, by navigating, are you suggesting that I need to become more white in order for me to survive?”

Why can’t I be comfortable in my skin – me being just me, and still be able to level up, succeed and reach top positions in organizations?

His questions got me thinking and our discussions veered towards the DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) policies in organizations that suffer from poor implementation.  He went on to say that the policies exist for a reason and are indicative of the fact that incidences of workplace harassment and bullying have occurred in the past that necessitated them in the first place.  

As it turns out, globally, these policy documents have become more of a medium of defending the corporations than those it was originally meant to protect. 

I find it insulting to those who are hired by companies that repeatedly shout diversity and inclusion, only to find it to be the exact opposite.  It is not just about color, race, gender, harassment, and bullying in its subtle form keeps occurring all the time, the so-called micro-aggression. 

Bullying and harassment happen at all levels and can be directed to your age, experience, skillset,  the way you speak, your attitude, and many such dimensions. 

Diversity, equity, and inclusivity in the workplace don’t mean you merely use it as a showcase – a splash here and a dash there.

Most organizations feel satisfied that they are meeting the bare minimum needs of diversity and inclusion numbers.  People at the receiving end of micro-aggressive behavior start to feel increasingly alienated and are constantly reminded that they are different and don’t belong.  

He said “As a man of color, I had to work harder, just to get equal respect all the while suppressing my personality to dispel the stereotype of a rebellious, non-conformist.

In #thecriticaldialogue #TCDLiveWeekendLounge show this weekend, we spoke to Torrey asking him to throw some light on his journey and how he not just saved his skin but saved his sanity to be successful in life?  

We asked him how to identify the signs of micro-aggression at work and ways to deal with it.

Let’s talk DE&I!

Torrey began his conversation by discussing, what he coined, “the roots” of his experience of DE&I. His journey began with his family and how he fit into his family’s nucleus because his parents and brothers respected each other’s differences. He discussed being exposed to his parents struggles within the workplace – his mother being bullied due to not engaging with cliques and workplace gossip. His father started out in the mailroom, even though he had personnel and  account experience due to spending 22-years in the Military. 

Torrey’s DE&I journey changed as he entered college and the working environment, where being a man of color brought about new unwanted experiences. Ultimately, the attendees gravitated to how Torrey defined DE&I: Diversity – “Other than me or different than me”. Equity – “Fairness, but fairness must be agreed upon by the parties involved.” Inclusion – “to actually be inclusive…thought process and perspectives, culture, communication, family status, working styles…must be considered.”

What is interesting about Torrey’s discussion is how it complemented Nageen Riffat’s (Nyn) conversation during Episode 1 of this season. 

However, Torrey’s focus was on organizations and how DE&I relate to men of color, and DE&I in the organization in general. Focal points of Torrey’s discussion were: 

  1. DEI – What’s wrong and why is it not having the necessary impact?
  2. Microaggressions
  3. DEI – implementation, what can organizational leadership do?
  4. Do you think having a DEI policy has become more a tool to defend the organization than those it is intended to protect?
  5. Employee assistance programs – are they truly helping promote DEI?
  6. Is a mandated independent external audit of DEI of organizations needed?

Are some of the experiences that seem to take a heavy toll on women and are three times more for the women of color, who are victims of microaggressions.

Torrey shared several different perspectives about DE&I in the organization that can assist leaders, managers, and employees with discussing the necessary elements needed within their companies to promote and exhibit diversity, equity, and inclusion:

  1. Not defining DE&I in a manner that is relatable to the masses.
  2. Speaking from my I/O Psychology and consulting lens, not defining good measures for DE&I is problematic.
  3. DE&I is more than what’s listed under Affirmative action. 
  4. Microaggression in the workplace
  5. Implicit bias.
  6. The four dimensions of DE&I – organizational, external, internal, personal.
  7. Employee assistance programs and mistrust.

While the focus was on the challenges faced by men of color in relation to DE&I, this episode focused on many organization concerns and DE&I. 

S1E4: Recovery and Resilience in the aftermath of domestic violence

Date: 16th October 2021

Host: Sree Kumar, Founder & CEO, The Critical Dialogue

Guest: Nageen Riffat, Founder, Nyn’s Dreams

Disclaimer: the views, information, or opinions expressed during the TCDLive Weekend Lounge show / series are solely those of the individuals, authors, guest speakers who come on the show and do not necessarily represent those of The Critical Dialogue, its constituents and partners, and its employees and clients.  The Critical Dialogue and its constituent partners are not responsible for any harm physical and/or psychological arising out of carrying out / following the views expressed and/or advice on this show.  This show is also not a substitute for any professional medical/non-medical advice.  Viewer discretion is advised.

It was such an engaging and deeply moving and emotional session with our guest, Nageen, on the TCDLive Weekend Lounge show.  We were blessed to have so many turned up and also registered their support of the cause.

Behind the scenes

I was talking to Nageen Riffat, Founder, Nyn’s Dreams and Award-Winning Speaker on Women’s Empowerment and Author of the best seller #HerRhythm – You are more than your survival story”

Her story literally shook me to the core, and I couldn’t get myself to even imagine the trauma this powerful lady had to endure, two young boys in tow, with no guarantee of what was in store.  I said to her “How could GOD be so unkind to such a wonderful woman? – Why was he a mute spectator, watching his creation being battered and bruised and left to fend for herself all alone?

“Sree, GOD helps those who help themselves, was her spontaneous response”.

“I tell you it was the worst experience in my life, a bad dream but it was also the best experience in my life . . . It made me a stronger person, and I feel like what I have gone through,  I can pass along to others, and I feel like I have this intuition when I’m around  people that are in those situations, and I try to make it evident but not obvious, that  I’m there for them if they need anything.”

Globally there are so many women who have been silently suffering or have been victims of domestic violence.  And a limited few who have not just recovered from the aftermath of domestic violence but who went on to rebuild and rebirth their lives.

When it comes to DV the victims/survivors inevitably experience trials and tribulations of recovery.  They are forced to contend with so much stress in the aftermath of domestic violence that may include recurring symptoms of trauma (like depression, anxiety) but also of the perpetrators who make persistent attempts to control them.  Controlling by stalking, breaking into their homes, harassing and threatening their employers, friends and family.

This has a deep impact on their ability to make decisions, concentrate and remain focused, and process their emotions. 

But there are also women who not just survived but gone on to define their own path, find meaning and purpose in their life and have now become a beacon of hope to several thousand worldwide.

While not much data exists in terms of how they were able to win back their life, leaving an abusive relationship and working toward recovery, those who have shared their journey are really making a difference.

Their stories are filled with how their road to recovery took a tremendous amount of personal strength, self-awareness, resilience, emotional intelligence and self-control.  The common theme is that they stopped playing victim and waiting for someone to come save them and started taking charge of their life.

In The Critical Dialogue #TCDLiveWeekendLounge show this weekend, we spoke to Nageen Riffat on the topic “Recovery and Resilience in the aftermath of domestic violence”

We asked her to share her story of not just how she rid herself of the traumatic relationship but also about her road to recovery through resilience.

God helps those who help themselves

Nageen began the show by sharing her story from early days of her childhood, about what shaped her dreams, the influence of her dad and how growing up as his adorable princess she dreamt of living a life truly made of those dreams.  

She said, little did I realize that those very dreams were going to be shattered post her marriage.

Her deeply moving tale of woes, inner-conflicts, domestic abuse of both the physical and the emotional kind and her slow and painful road to recovery, resilience and transformation is what made the show invaluable.  There were lessons to be learnt at every stage, at times as a host I felt that I just let her be and continue, but honestly there is so much to her story than mere survival, as she wrote in her book #herRhythm – you are more than your survival story.

I tried to keep the focus around topics that I thought would really be beneficial for fellow women around the world.  Those included:

  1. How living in denial doesn’t help your cause?
  2. Reclaiming yourself – need to invest in self-care
  3. The power of belief
  4. Repurpose your life – start dreaming again
  5. Decisions and choices that EMPOWER
  6. Forgiveness – how that helps in recovery
  7. Stand up for your rights
  8. Re-birthing – find renewed purpose, meaning, and energy to succeed

Honestly, as much as I thought it would remain focused on these topics, we veered towards some more basic and pertinent ones that deserved attention.  As is always the case with the TCDLiveWeekend Lounge experience, we always remain open to bring to table that which matters even if it demands of us at times moving away from pre-fixed agenda.

The idea of “Dialogue” is just that after all, isn’t it.

We started talking about how;

  1. Cases of domestic violence go unreported – Nageen shared that over 90% of the domestic violence cases go unreported, not just because at times victim/survivors themselves are unaware that they have been subjected to abuse but also because of the cultural stigma that is attached to it.
  1. What stops victims/survivors from reporting cases of domestic violence – She said that many do not report because they don’t want their family name to be dragged to courts or litigations.  They do not want their own kith and kin, friends and colleagues to end up facing the wrath of the abusers.  This is particularly the case when the perpetrator is a person of high influence, both in terms of money, muscle and connections.  The problem she said was at times the victim/survivors family themselves are to blame as they don’t want to get involved and invest their energies in pushing the victim back into the fire.  Instead of trying to stand up and fight for their kin, they at times can be perceived to be more siding with the perpetrators and their families.  That is the sad part, she said.  This really has a deep psychological impact on the victim as they become highly untrusting of others and withdraw into a cocoon to suffer in silence. As Nageen said, it starts to impact so much that it goes on to impair the thinking and decision making faculties of the victim/survivor.
  1. It’s not just physical, the psychological abuse goes unnoticed – Nageen spoke about how it was not just about the physical abuse victims/survivors are subjected to but the intense  emotional/psychological abuse they are subjected to that often goes unnoticed.  She said while the scars from physical abuse are visible and are a grim reminder of what she had gone through each time she goes in front of the mirror, it is the emotional trauma that is hard to overcome.  Especially when you have no one to talk to and are alone, it comes to bite you again and again, not allowing you to forget your past.  She said, physical scars may heal over time but the emotional ones take a long long time.  You can never completely heal from them though you can work towards reducing the negative effects of those on your psyche and on your life ahead.
  1. Why are married women with children less likely to report against the perpetrators of violence? – When you have innocent lives who are dependent on you and expect you to be the protective blanket around them, you cannot afford at times to be seen as vulnerable.  Your instincts naturally are to bear with the abuse, lest it start touching your children’s life.  The perpetrators of domestic violence can emotionally manipulate children, physically threaten them to get their custody.  For them, not being able to get custody of their kids is the first and a great sign of their failure, which they would not like a bit.  They would go to any extent to ensure that the victim/survivor is physically and emotionally isolated.  They can threaten, use coercive force, and even be prepared to kill, just so that they win.  The fear they instill in the victim is just enough for them to remain silent.  

    The other interesting point she raised was that when you have kids and you want them to grow up in a good family environment, you keep trying your best to make up with the perpetrator with the hope that this is just a passing phase and one day things will turn out to be good.  What she said was profound and very important – you cannot afford to live in denial.  You have to accept that you have failed in your efforts to make this work.  It’s time to move on.  When you are faced with the choice of either ‘giving up’ or ‘standing up’, she said make the choice of standing up to fight another day.  That is what made her to be what she is today – A true woman of substance.
  1. If the abusers would have grown up in a family which condoned such acts – to this question, she was not wanting to sound like she is empathetic to the perpetrator.  She said, it is sad that it does happen most of the time that women in the family of the abuser, do not even realize that another woman like them is getting violated.  They either are mute spectators or contribute to the problem.  She said, such women fail to even realize that they are mothers, sisters, daughters themselves.  It is so damn difficult to fathom that they could become party to domestic violence.  She went on to say that unless women in the violator’s family, his kith or kin don’t take a stance, this kind of violation is not going away any time soon.
  1. The effects and impact of covid-19 pandemic in an increase of domestic violence – Nageen spoke about women and especially working women, who have been victims of subtle forms of abuse, the psychological kind, which has been on the rise post pandemic and work-from-home scenario.  The only time a victim/survivor used to get to be with themselves was either in the shower or during their commute to and fro office.  With work-from-home, that luxury has also been taken away.  There is very little time for self-care which these women get with expectations of them being super-woman who could work almost 18-20 hrs. A day, supporting family, children, parents, work and much much more.  The exhausted mind has no time to think of rejuvenating for self-care.  She said, she had to wear a mask throughout the day, at office – to show up as a confident and decisive person, with children – as a strong and powerful lady, with husband – as a caring and affectionate partner, with in-law – as a devoted daughter in law, with parents as a loving caring child, with friends as a – bubbly enthusiastic person, Phew!  You never really are you!
  1. The need to sensitize and build awareness. Nageen spoke at length about how women must invest in their self-care and build their self-worth.  They must work hard to develop competencies that could help them not just take up jobs but also become self-reliant in the face of adversity.  She said, the very fact that she was well educated and had a successful career helped her to escape from the clutches of an abusive relationship and gave her the confidence to make a life of her own in an alien land.  Today, she goes about conducting sensitization programs, workshops and skill builders and works with NGOs and community centers to empower women to stand up and be noticed.  She kept repeating throughout the show that self-care was the key.
  2. How organizations the world over can support She talked about how organizations can support the victim/survivor of domestic violence by not just being sensitive to their needs but also to provide them with the time, space and necessary resources to not just recover but get a life of their own making. She highlighted that while she was fortunate to have colleagues and an organization that supported her through that face of trials and tribulations, often she comes across women who have been let down by the very company or colleagues with whom she would have spent years working.  Organizations must come forward to employ and promote more women in the workplace.  Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the true sense.

The show definitely highlighted, and did not miss the fact that there is a great need for women to come out in support of women, if we want to see any significant change – whether in families or in the workplace.

The key takeaways

Support, Educate, Empower, Develop (SEED) as I would like to call it, is important in helping women fight against abuse and violence.  This needs to be backed by creating a fertile ground that has Social and Institutional support, Community support, and more importantly a cultural revolution of sorts.  One small step at a time.

TCDLive Weekend Lounge show is committed to bringing to dialogue all such topics that deserve our attention.  

May the world become truly inclusive!

S1E5: Mental Wellness Recovery – an active change of ideas and attitudes.

S1E5:  Mental Wellness Recovery – An active change of ideas and attitudes

‘Recover’, ‘Reignite’ and ‘Rejuvenate’ Your Life

Date: 23rd October 2021

Host: Sree Kumar, Founder & CEO, The Critical Dialogue

Co-hosts: Torrey Davis and Nageen Riffat

Guest: Karl Berry

Disclaimer: The views, information, or opinions expressed during the TCDLive Weekend Lounge show / series are solely those of the individuals, authors, guest speakers who come on the show and do not necessarily represent those of The Critical Dialogue, its constituents, and partners, and its employees and clients.  The Critical Dialogue and its constituent partners are not responsible for any harm physical and/or psychological arising out of carrying out / following the views expressed and/or advice on this show.  This show is also not a substitute for any professional medical/non-medical advice.  Viewer discretion is advised.

It was such an engaging session with our guest, Karl, on the TCDLive Weekend Lounge show.  As always the critical dialogue went long and was so engaging, with attendees providing their insights and observations towards the end of the show.

Behind the scenes

I was talking to Karly Berry, founder and CEO of the Community Care and Resource Council, Dallas, Texas, USA and the conversation veered towards mental health, mental wellness, and post-traumatic recovery.

It was #thecriticaldialogue I thought highly relevant with scores of people reporting problems with mental wellness post-pandemic of now over 18 months.

The trauma has not spared anyone, young and old alike, business and working professionals, gender, race, culture, nationalities, the whole world.

Today many the world over are dealing with devastating losses of both the personal and the professional kind.  From losing dear ones to the loss of jobs and relationships to accumulating huge business losses.  People still seem to be reeling under the after-effects of a calamity of proportions they would have never ever imagined they would face in their lifetime.

I asked Karl to tell me about what he thinks is the way forward, the steps one can take to ‘recover’, ‘reignite’ and ‘rejuvenate’ one’s life when faced with such physical and emotional upheaval.

He said to me, Sree, “It simply boils down to making a choice between ‘bad thinking and ‘good thinking”

I wanted to explore further the critical dialogue as I asked him to tell me more, and who is better than Karl himself who is a great example of someone who lost it and fought – fought well to recover all that he lost.

In #thecriticaldialogue #TCDLiveWeekendLounge show this weekend, we spoke to Karl asking him to throw some light on his journey and how he made his mental health recovery possible by an active change of ideas and attitudes.  

We asked him how to identify the early warning signals of mental wellness issues, what can one do to overcome the problem.

The dialogue! – a context

The word impossible (IS) no longer part of the scientific community’s vocabulary” – Christopher Reeve

From being an established Hollywood star and playing Superman to an accident that left him as a quadriplegic to recovery and beyond, Christopher Reeve set an example of how your ability to tap into your inner courage, move forward with your life, and even reinvent yourself is possible. 

That’s what transformed him from being not just a start but going on to being a legend. 

“He toured the world to meet scientists, public representatives, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists. He became the voice, and above all the beacon of hope, of all those who live with paralysis”.

He found ‘new meaning’ and ‘purpose’ to his life.

His story is much talked about as he was a star, but there are many in this world who have been doing similar work and have gone through the process of ‘recovery’ and infused new meaning to their life and are providing hope and doing service to the community.

The Critical Dialogue revolved around the following topics

  1. Good Thinking/Bad Thinking
  2. Recovery
  3. Active change ideas and attitudes
  4. Getting back what was lost
  5. Karl’s lived experiences
  6. School/College
  7. Job
  8. Counsel from Minority Owned Businesses
  9. Logic to change you thoughts vs Acting to changes your thoughts
  10. Programming the subconscious mind – Spirituality – Honesty Open-mindedness and Willingness

It was a free-flowing unstructured discussion around these topics and Karl shared with us his own experiences of being a drug addict, doing it daily, every day, and how he had all but lost it, before taking the course of spirituality and transforming himself completely.

He shared with the audience how he then started to find meaning by helping others who faced similar mental health problems, through community outreach programs.

While no direct answers were available, as is the case with dialogue, we engage in conversations and let the audience pick for themselves parts that they relate to and find useful.  

In the lounge it’s you who decides what you need to be served – it’s always your choice.

You could listen to the TCDLive Weekend Lounge Podcast or watch the video to learn more.

TCDLive Weekend Lounge show is committed to bringing to dialogue all such topics that deserve our attention.  

May the world become truly inclusive!

TCDLive Weekend Lounge Talk Show
is committed to bringing to dialogue all such topics
that deserve attention.  

May the world become truly inclusive!

An IDIOTS Guide To Success!

Yes, you heard that!  I am and have been called on numerous occasions an idiot. 

Should I call them perceptions, judgments, or facts as evidenced by my actions?

Hmm… I don’t know.

What I know for sure is that as an established idiot, I can help you in many ways.

Ways to be highly successful in life.

Ways you would have never ever thought of or imagined.

Ways, if not guaranteeing success will surely help you avoid pitfalls which could come your way in life’s journey.

Hello there, this is your host Sree Kumar with #thecriticaldialogue series “An Idiots Guide To Success”, where I share with you my secrets to success which you could never possibly learn from successful people.


In this episode we explore how NOT taking responsibility and blaming is the IDIOTS way to Success!

Today, I tell you how? It is absolutely fine to NOT take any responsibility for your life!

I always believed that I was entitled to a great life – that there is someone, somewhere (certainly not me) who is responsible for guiding my life.  A higher power which already knows my story and has written about it in detail.  That no matter how much I try, I cannot change the script.  Mind you, it is copyrighted. 

It is that power which is completely responsible for the quality of life I lead.  It is responsible for my happiness, my career, my family and my personal relationships.  So much so that it also manages all my financial resources.

I trust that power very much and have been brought up and conditioned to believe in it.  It’s such a wonderful feeling to have believed in that power all my life you see.  I don’t have to lift a finger to get things accomplished in my life. 

All I need to do is to pray and believe in my destiny and let that power take care of me.

So today’s lesson from the ‘idiots guide’ is that in order to be successful, you don’t have to take any responsibility for everything you experience in your life. 

Remember, you are not responsible for your achievements as it is already preordained.

You are not responsible for the quality of relationships as no matter what you do, others have their script too.

You are not responsible for the results you produce as they have already been defined and delivered into your book called life.

You are not responsible for the state of your health and physical fitness as no matter what you do or how much you try – death is inevitable and that is the only truth.

You are not responsible for your income and debts as it is entirely dependent on those who pay or lend you the money.  I say that once again, they too have their script to follow.

And lastly you are not responsible for your feelings as they are always guided by the happenings around you.

It’s so easy! Isn’t it?

You have been given the power to blame!

Please use that for your own well-being. 

I have led all my life using this unique gift of blame which the supreme power has armed me with.  It was comforting to blame my parents for the lack of a comfortable upbringing;

Blame my bosses for not knowing my worth

Blame my friends for not being there when I needed them

Blame the media for all the negativity in this world

Blame my clients for not being intelligent enough to understand the utility of my products and services

Blame my spouse for not being understanding

Blame the weather for staying indoors

Blame the economy for my financial state

Blame the astrological chart for the way my life has turned out to be.

Go ahead and pin the blame on anything and everything which bothers you.


Remember, the script has already been written.

I hope you have by now got the first lesson from my “Idiots Guide To Success”?

In the next episode, we will explore this idiosyncrasy in a little more detail

By the way, if you didn’t like this first episode, I blame you for not getting the hang of what I am trying to tell you.


Carpe Diem – for a fulfilling life

Clara was so upset with the behavior of her neighbor that her early morning walk in the park was filled with overwhelming anger about incidents that transpired the previous day.

While she had good reasons to be annoyed, James was concerned about the effect it was having on her mind space. At that moment, he asked her a question “What if today was your last day in this world?”; “What would you be doing?”, “Would this incident occupy your mind?” Her quick response was “I would be least bothered about this lady”. I would be rather focused on getting on with what I love to do. My thoughts will be all about how I can get as much of life in a day’s time as possible.

Carpe Diem – It was a profound moment and made for some interesting conversations about how we must live every day of our lives.

As Clara shared her response, a sense of realization washed over both of them. The question, “What if today was your last day in this world?”, had stirred something deep within her. It shifted her perspective from dwelling on a negative incident to embracing the essence of living fully.

They continued their walk, but this time the atmosphere had transformed. The anger that had clouded her mind space began to dissipate, making way for a newfound appreciation for the present moment. They marveled at the beauty of the park, the gentle breeze caressing our faces, and the vibrant colors of the flowers in bloom. It was as if they were experiencing these simple joys for the first time.

Carpe Diem, or “seize the day,” became the mantra that guided them. They realized that life is too short to be consumed by negativity and grievances. Instead, we should focus on the things that truly matter and bring us joy.

They engaged in deep conversations about our dreams, passions, and the experiences they wanted to have. The incident with their neighbor seemed trivial in comparison to the vast possibilities that life offered them. They made a pact to let go of unnecessary stressors and channel their energy toward living purposefully.

In the days that followed, they actively sought out activities that brought them great happiness and fulfillment. They embarked on adventures, explored new hobbies, and invested time in nurturing their relationships.

They made it a point to express gratitude for the blessings in their lives and found ways to contribute to the well-being of others.

Carpe Diem became more than just a phrase—it became a way of life. They embraced the opportunity to make each day count, to leave a positive impact, and to savor every precious moment. The incident that had once consumed Claras’ thoughts gradually lost its grip on her mind. Instead, she focused on creating meaningful memories and living authentically.

Through this experience, they discovered that by living as if today is their last day, they freed themselves from the shackles of negativity and the burdens of the past. They found the courage to pursue their passions, nurture their relationships, and find fulfillment in the simplest of joys.

Life is unpredictable, and none of us know what tomorrow holds. But by embracing the philosophy of Carpe Diem, we can make the most of the time we have.

So, let us seize each day with intention, gratitude, and a zest for life, knowing that we have the power to create a life worth living, one day at a time.

10 Telltale Signs of Workplace Narcissism

Workplace narcissism can manifest in various ways. Here are some common signs that may indicate the presence of narcissistic behavior in the workplace:

1. Excessive self-importance: Narcissistic people frequently exaggerate their feeling of self-importance. They may assume they are better than their peers and want people to recognize and praise their accomplishments.

2. Desire for constant attention and admiration: Narcissists seek affirmation and attention from others. They are constantly looking for praise and respect for their accomplishments and may grow angry if they do not receive the credit they believe they deserve.

3. Lack of empathy: Narcissists frequently struggle to understand or care about the feelings and needs of others. They may ignore or minimize their coworkers’ worries, displaying little understanding or compassion.

4. Exploitative behavior: Narcissists may exploit others for personal gains, such as taking credit for their colleagues’ ideas or labor, taking advantage of subordinates, or manipulating events to further their own interests.

5. Arrogance and entitlement: Narcissistic people frequently demonstrate arrogance and entitlement. They may believe they are entitled to preferential treatment, unique privileges, or exemptions from rules that others must obey.

6. Manipulative communication style: Narcissists are good at manipulation and may employ deceitful techniques to obtain their desired outcome. They may engage in gaslighting, which is when they cause people to doubt their own senses or reality.

7. Strong need for control: Narcissistic people frequently have a strong desire to dominate situations and the people around them. They may micromanage their employees, refuse task delegation, or attempt to dominate group conversations.

8. Lack of accountability: Narcissists frequently avoid accepting responsibility for their errors or flaws. Instead of admitting responsibility, they may blame others, make excuses, or deflect criticism.

9. Fragile self-esteem: Despite their apparent confidence, narcissists frequently have fragile self-esteem that is quickly undermined. They may be too sensitive to perceived criticism or challenges to their ability.

10. Difficulty functioning in groups: Narcissists may struggle to cooperate effectively with others. They may have a tendency to dominate conversations, ignore others’ views, or undercut their colleagues’ efforts.

It is crucial to highlight that these symptoms do not always imply narcissism, as some behaviors might occur in people who do not have a narcissistic personality disorder. If you detect a trend of these behaviors in a coworker or supervisor, it may be time to investigate workplace narcissism.

Are you a victim of workplace narcissism?
Want to learn strategies to deal with narcissistic behavior in workplace?
Get in touch for a preliminary understanding of what you are dealing with!👇🏽

Confronting Inner Conflict and Embracing Transformation

In the depths of our being, the conflict lies dormant, waiting to awaken our restless souls. It is born from the forbidden seeds of emotions, desires, and thoughts that haunt us, casting a veil of anxiety upon our existence. How ironic it is that our instinctive response to this turmoil is to defend ourselves, yet we remain oblivious to the true nature of our inner battles.

The conscious mind rarely embraces the forbidden truths that reside within, choosing instead to shield itself from the discomfort they bring. Our defensiveness becomes a potent elixir, numbing the pain and granting us the ability to navigate a world that would otherwise be unbearable. But there comes a time when reliance on this makeshift remedy must cease, and the roots of our anguish must be unearthed and healed.

In the realm of leadership development, telltale signs of this defensive behavior emerge, like ghosts haunting the corridors of progress. We change the subject when confronted with certain issues, evading the unsettling truths that lie before us. Denial becomes our shield, proclaiming the absence of any problem, while our eyes betray our hidden fears. We turn a blind eye to admitted faults, hoping that ignorance will grant us a reprieve. We weave elaborate rationalizations, attempting to justify questionable actions that defy our moral compass. And in moments of sheer desperation, we even succumb to reckless acts, lashing out in defiance.

But let us not be slaves to these defensive walls we have erected. Let us cast aside the veil of illusion and face our demons with unwavering courage. For only by delving into the depths of our souls, by confronting the shadows that dwell within, can we truly break free from the chains of self-imposed limitations.

The path to healing beckons us, inviting us to embrace vulnerability and seek solace in the uncomfortable truths that lie buried. It is a journey that demands introspection, self-discovery, and a willingness to confront our deepest fears.

Let us rise above the allure of defensiveness and embark on this transformative quest, for it is through embracing our own imperfections that we become the architects of our own growth and the catalysts for change.

Leaders, despite their position of authority, are not immune to defensive behaviors that shield them from confronting uncomfortable truths. Here are some common defensive behaviors exhibited by leaders:

  1. Subject Change: Leaders may divert the conversation or shift the focus when certain sensitive issues are raised, avoiding direct confrontation and evading the discomfort that accompanies those discussions.
  2. Denial: In a bid to preserve their image or maintain control, leaders may outright deny the existence of a problem or downplay its significance, refusing to acknowledge the reality that challenges their leadership or the organization’s well-being.
  3. Ignoring Admitted Problems: Even when a problem has been acknowledged or brought to their attention, leaders may choose to ignore it, hoping that by turning a blind eye, it will dissipate on its own or lose significance over time.
  4. Rationalization: Leaders may engage in the act of rationalizing questionable actions or decisions, attempting to justify their behavior by providing seemingly logical explanations that may overlook ethical considerations or the impact on others.
  5. Acting Out: In moments of heightened stress or frustration, leaders may succumb to impulsive or reckless behavior, lashing out in defiance or exerting control in a manner that is uncharacteristic of their usual leadership style.

It is important for leaders to recognize and address these defensive behaviors, as they hinder personal and professional growth, impede effective decision-making, and hamper the development of a healthy organizational culture.


What are some of the defensive behaviors you have seen leaders exhibit?

  1. Denial
  2. Subject change
  3. Ignoring admitted problems
  4. Rationalization
  5. Acting out

If you are a Leader who is game to confront your inner demons and embark on a transformational journey?
Get in touch for a free 15 min. exploratory call. Mail me

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up

The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

In the small village of Nirantarpur, nestled amidst rolling hills and surrounded by a vibrant tapestry of nature, there lived a young girl named Maya. From an early age, Maya possessed a spirit that burned brightly with dreams and ambitions. She yearned to make a difference in the world and was determined to overcome any obstacle that stood in her way.

One sunny morning, as Maya strolled through the village, she stumbled upon an abandoned garden. Overgrown with weeds and neglected, the garden seemed to mirror Maya’s own dreams, obscured by doubt and uncertainty. Intrigued, she knelt down and began to clear away the debris, revealing a patch of fertile soil that held the potential for something extraordinary.

With each weed she uprooted; Maya felt a surge of determination coursing through her veins. She knew that revitalizing the garden would not be easy, but she was resolved to transform it into a vibrant oasis of beauty and life.

Days turned into weeks as Maya toiled in the garden, tending to each seed she planted with love and care. But as time went on, doubts began to seep into her mind. The garden’s progress was slow, and Maya wondered if her efforts were in vain. The path she had chosen seemed arduous, and giving up became an enticing option.

Yet, deep within her heart, Maya found the strength to persevere. She remembered the stories passed down by her elders—the tales of those who faced seemingly insurmountable challenges and refused to give up. Their unwavering determination inspired her to press on, even in the face of adversity.

As the seasons changed, so did Maya’s garden. Tender buds transformed into vibrant blossoms, filling the air with their sweet fragrance. The village took notice, marveling at the transformation and the resolute spirit that had brought it to life.

But Maya’s journey did not end with the flourishing garden. Empowered by her experience, she turned her attention to other endeavors that aligned with her desire to make a difference. She volunteered at the local school, teaching children the importance of perseverance and the value of never giving up on their dreams.

Maya’s story spread like wildfire, igniting a spark within the hearts of the villagers. Inspired by her unwavering spirit, they, too, began to pursue their dreams with renewed determination. The village of Perseverance became a haven for those who refused to let obstacles define their destiny.

Years passed, and Maya’s influence reached far beyond the borders of her village. Her story traveled to distant lands, inspiring countless others to embrace the power of not giving up. People from all walks of life, facing their own trials and tribulations, found solace and strength in her example.

Through her actions, Maya showed the world that the power of not giving up goes beyond personal triumph—it has the potential to transform lives, spark change, and create a ripple effect of inspiration that knows no bounds.

And so, in the village of Nirantarpur, Maya’s legacy lives on—a reminder that when faced with challenges, setbacks, and moments of doubt, it is the unwavering spirit of not giving up that propels us forward, fuels our dreams, and shapes the world around us.

If you ever felt like giving up on your goals, and are looking for a coach, get in touch 👇🏽.

The Secret to Coping with Leadership Stress in the Age of social media.

The need to strike a balance between privacy and transparency is one of the main issues facing leaders in the age of social media criticism. Leaders must be open and honest about their actions and choices, but they must also respect both their own and their team members’ privacy.

The requirement to control public opinion presents another difficulty. Social media can be an effective instrument for influencing public opinion, but it also has potential drawbacks. Leaders need to be able to maneuver this complicated environment and make the most of social media.

In the era of social media criticism, one of the primary challenges for leaders is finding a balance between privacy and transparency. Leaders must be transparent and truthful about their decisions and actions, but they must also protect the privacy of both themselves and their team members.

The need to manage public perception creates still another challenge. Although social media can be a useful tool for swaying public opinion, there may also be negative effects. Leaders must be able to navigate this complex environment and utilize social media to their advantage.

Transparency – an essential leadership attribute

An essential quality of a leader is transparency. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance between openness and privacy. Leaders should be open and honest about their plans, but they also need to respect the privacy of their team members and other stakeholders.

In order to strike a balance between transparency and privacy, leaders should take the following things into account:

1. The nature of information: Leaders should take into account how sensitive the information they are sharing is. Some information could be too delicate to be disclosed in public.

2. The audience: Leaders should take into account who they are communicating with. Specific audiences may find some information appropriate, but not others.

3. The timing: When delivering information, leaders should consider this. It could be more suitable to communicate some information than others at some moments.

4. The goal: Executives should think about why they are disseminating information. It might not be beneficial to share information merely for the sake of transparency.

5. The organization’s culture: Leaders need to take this into account. Transparency may be more important to some organizations than to others.

Leaders should make an effort to be open while still being aware of privacy issues. They should give considerable thought to who they will share their information with, when, and why.

How can organization leaders manage employee opinion?

By fostering a supportive work environment that promotes open communication and feedback, leadership in an organization can control and shape employee opinion. Additionally, they can give staff members chances to take part in decision-making and encourage them to express their thoughts and opinions.

A culture of trust and respect, as well as clear expectations and goals, frequent feedback, and acknowledgment, are other ways that leaders can influence the opinions of their workforce. Employees are more likely to feel appreciated and engaged if this is done, which can boost output and raise job satisfaction.

Leaders must learn to cut off the noise.

It is crucial for leaders to turn off the noise because it contaminates their thinking and decision-making. Experts in cognitive biases and errors in decision-making describe how noise—or unwelcome variability—clouds organizations’ judgments and what to do about it, according to a McKinsey paper. According to the paper, businesses should take measures to decrease noise in their decision-making processes, such as standardizing data collection practices and ensuring that all decision-makers have access to the same data.

By employing a well-defined decision-making process that includes asking for feedback from coaches and others, engaging in discussion with others, and challenging their assumptions by looking for evidence that contradicts their beliefs, leaders can learn to overcome biases that can creep into their decision-making process.

It’s also crucial to look in the mirror, reflect on one’s thoughts, and identify any firmly held ideas.  Strong self-awareness is a quality that successful leaders possess and use to guide their teams and organizations.

A new set of abilities and tactics are needed for leadership in the social media age. Effective communication, online reputation management, balancing privacy and transparency, and public opinion management are skills that leaders must possess. By doing this, they may win the trust of their followers and thrive in the competitive digital environment of today.

Taking the help of a personal coach can help leaders immensely.

By increasing their self-awareness about who they are “being” in the coaching session and how they are contributing to the client’s growth—or lack thereof—coaching can help leaders overcome their biases. Simply acknowledging and accepting that prejudices exist—to some extent—in all of us can be incredibly beneficial in your leadership journey. 

By providing a safe space for leaders to explore their thoughts and feelings without being judged, coaching can help them recognize their biases and work on them. Leaders can overcome their prejudices with the assistance of coaches who can help them create fresh perspectives and modes of thought. Leaders can learn to identify their biases and create coping mechanisms by working with a coach.

If you are a Leader looking for a reliable partner to help share and cope with stress?
Get in touch in all confidentiality.

Connect for a short 15 min. exploratory call! 👇🏽

Leaders are masters at this!

One quality all great leaders possess is their ability to “read between the lines” during conversations.  They are able to understand the subtext in people’s communication.

Our communication is frequently influenced by subtext.  In order to effectively communicate, it is crucial to learn how to use this information.

Let’s see an example to understand this clearly.

We must always remember to separate the overt from the covert – what we perceive and the reality.

Imagine that you are walking by a crowded street and suddenly find a man lying there in a pool of blood.  As your eyes make contact with a burly-looking stranger, he starts to make a run and turns around the corner.  Hey, “wait” you shout as you see a car speeding out from the lane and turning at high speed.

Why does this man run when he sees you?  Why is the car speeding out of the lane immediately after?

Because the man committed a crime and is running around the corner to jump into a car driven by his accomplice, who then speeds away to escape from the crime scene.

The scene above never said you saw the stranger committing the crime.  Also, there was no mention of you having seen this man jumping into the car and that it was his accomplice who helped him escape the crime scene.

You deduced it from the scene itself, the description, and the mood of the scene. Is “wait” a subtextual word? Or even “running”; or “speeding”?  There is nothing hidden in the words, other than “stop”, and “don’t run”, depending on the way it is delivered in the scene.

Imagine that the stranger was working as an assistant in the neighborhood pharmacy and had just run around the corner to get some first aid for the man who was lying there bleeding.  It might have been the man in the car who would have actually committed the crime.

The key to better communication and increased likeability is to use subtext to fill in the blanks of any incoming communication. You will quickly realize that practically everything a person says contains subtle undertones intended to subtly or overtly convey extra messages if you pay close attention.

Consider how people’s past experiences and histories may relate to the current situation. What feelings are involved here? Hint: at least one main emotion is always present. It will unavoidably affect their goals, perspectives, and motivations in a way that might cause their message to diverge from what they actually mean.

If you are aware of someone’s overall personality qualities, you may frequently make a decision by considering how they would prefer to act in the given circumstance. Someone is likely internally shouting “NO!” if they are exceedingly quiet and timid and reply to anything to the extent of “I agree… I suppose.” Basically, take into account the source and how a person’s experiences affect how they communicate.

Examine a person’s vocal tone to determine their sincerity. Are they serious, angry, or sarcastic? Does the message’s tone fit with it? Someone probably means no if they answer affirmatively but with sarcasm. Someone is probably not satisfied with the conclusion if they agree but act furious about it. If they answer honestly and with a “yes,” they are either conflicted or don’t care. There are countless ways to interpret vocal tones, but the majority do in fact imply that the words are not to be taken literally.

Watch how people react to you. You may tell how someone is feeling about what you say by seeing how patient, kind, and accommodating they attempt to be. This includes the amount of silence you hear and the level of curiosity they exhibit. Even if they agree with you, if someone waits for two beats to respond to a straightforward question, they may have had to consider their response and may be conveying negativity through subtext.

Observing how far people differ from their typical pattern of behavior is another factor to consider, which can call for more observant abilities. What does it indicate that your boss is somber and pessimistic if they are usually upbeat? It can make the statement “Things are going well” convey the complete opposite meaning. You can use the hints that subtext leaves to sharpen your communication skills. Signs are left all over the place.

Of course, the difficult thing is interpreting these facets of a person at the same time, as you could in a typical daily conversation.

This means that in reality, you have two tasks to complete:

  1. analysing the dialogue and selecting the appropriate response; and
  2. keeping an eye out for subtextual indications.

You might be able to educate yourself to recognize particular subtexts and social cues, but can you recognize them when you’re actively looking for others? Or will your capacity for simultaneous observation be limited? This might be true that it would require three brains and six pairs of eyes for you to see so many things at once.

The only thing we can do is start small and practice until these things – why did they say that, what are they experiencing, and what may it indicate — become a habitual thought process. I want to leave you with a quick exercise to set the mood before we wrap up our discussion about subtext. It’s very simple: go out in public and watch people interact. For instance, you could sit in a café and stealthily monitor the individuals at the tables next to yours.

Since you can’t hear the overt dialogue, you must assume what the covert communication’s subtext is saying. Assign the people you are witnessing histories, feelings, and motivations. Make up stories and venture out on a limb. The narrative you conjure up in situations like this will get more and more accurate as you hone your subtext skills.


  1. How often have you found a gap between what you hear people say, your perceptions and the underlying message?
  2. How do you think mastering the art of reading the subtext of messages people convey will help you?
  3. Do you think your ability to read the subtext will make you more likeable and approachable for others?

Fear of rejection, people pleasing, and the impact on work

While it is understandable to want to avoid rejection, red flags should go up if you feel an intense need to put other people’s needs before your own. People pleasers who are compulsive will go to great measures to win people over and are a good example. Their desire for stability overrides their ambitions and impulses due to their dependent mentality, and the way they present themselves mirrors how they think other people want them to be rather than who they really are. They typically have a long history of employment, are intelligent, effective team members, and considerate of others’ needs. They serve as the leader’s followers, the creatives’ audience, and the problematic co-worker’s listening ear.

They seldom ever argue with co-workers and, in many respects, serve as the foundation of organizations. Their emotional antennae are tipped more outward than within, though. They are less aware of their own internal environments when they are tuning into other people. They repress their feelings and beliefs, lose track of their goals, and—most concerningly—disconnect from who they really are.

While their co-workers gain from their generosity, they ultimately lose out because they are unable to reach their full potential or experience the fulfillment that comes from a job well-lived.

They stop thinking for themselves and start relying on their supervisors and co-workers to make decisions and even think for them. Companies lose out on their distinctive talents despite benefiting from their persistent, cooperative work. In this way, the cycle of gratification and dependence picks up speed.

Thoughts lack energy when they are not expressed verbally, which inhibits change and development. To break out of this pattern, motivation is essential. Internal conflict develops when the need to please conflicts with one’s goals. Although this tension is unpleasant, it can inspire the will for change.

If one is willing to confront and resolve these tensions and ambiguities, one can progress personally and professionally. Santosh, a 35-year-old unmarried man who worked in digital marketing, experienced this. His wit and charm provided the ideal cover for his deeper fears, which were nevertheless very close to the surface.

He had to deal with the tension between trying to please people and succeeding because of a promotion. Throughout my whole life, I’ve used pleasing others as a means of preventing rejection. This helped him in his early jobs, but when he was elevated to a leadership position, his fear of being rejected made it difficult for him to make difficult decisions and have uncomfortable conversations.

I was curious to learn more about his predicament. Can you describe how your worries affect how well you function at work? He stated, “It’s inhibiting because the choices you make are layered with lots of considerations about how the other person might feel, or react, or how they might be inspired to speak against you, or how they might recruit others against you.” To make up for it, you either soften what you’re going to say or disguise your own intentions so as not to offend them. That implies that you are less effective and productive. I keep my mouth shut if there is even the slightest potential that they might be upset. You don’t want to take the chance of offending someone since they might leave or convince others to leave as well.

You’re not being honest if you’re worried about whether they’ll think poorly of you. As a result, you feel awful about yourself and they think you should be communicating with them directly. The fact that he was always expecting the next threat because of his hypervigilant state of mind was undoubtedly concerning.

 “Staying on high alert often puts you on the verge of an anxiety attack, and your irrational concerns about others mean you betray yourself,” I advised him. He replied, “If you take people on, then you’re making enemies.” You figure out a means to avoid doing this by attempting to boost other people’s self-esteem. You repress your own personality at the same time. Everything is premeditated; it’s a performance. This is what makes it exhausting because you’re trying to project an image that will prevent rejection.

I told him that despite his new, higher-ranking position, he continued to feel that others—whether subordinates, colleagues, or clients—held sway because they had the authority to reject him. His self-confidence suffered as a result, and he forced himself to work harder to prove his value, but the long hours were making him burn out. He was prone to misinterpret circumstances, seeing risks where none existed, or get distracted so much that he overlooked a real threat.

He acknowledged, “I’ve either not taken something seriously when I should have, or I’ve been prepared for a fight when I simply misread the signs.”

His apparent compassion for other people was actually a coping mechanism for deeper emotional traumas from his early years.

In reality, trauma is an emotional and physical reaction to any traumatic incident. By numbing intense emotions like sadness, helplessness, or fury, the mind hurries to shield the person from overpowering emotions. However, these encounters leave a lasting impression on the way we think, relate to others, control our emotions, and process our experiences by leaving traces in our memories, emotions, unconscious, and even in our bodies.

This includes how we perceive things and respond at work.

This was the situation with Santosh, who was born following his mother’s miscarriage of two previous children, and who grew up to be the center of attention for his mother and everyone else at home.  He realized as he got older that people did not adore him as much as they had when he was younger.  Contrary to what he had come to believe, the world was very different.  As a result, he developed a strong desire to win people over so that he could receive their full attention.  He eventually developed an obsessive need to appease others.

Alas! It was starting to take a toll on him.


  1. Do you often compromise your own goals and agendas in order to not offend others?
  • How has ‘people pleasing’ affected your role as a leader or when you grew into a leadership role, both at home and in office?

The secret power of expectations

Often our expectations are based on the assumptions we have about people or groups of people. The same is true of us.

Have you ever noticed how your expectations become reality in your personal life?

Expectation is literally a self-fulfilling prophecy. We do this consciously and subconsciously.

Remember the kid in grade school who was always really rowdy and disruptive? Sometimes if people already assume they are perceived a certain way, then that is indeed exactly how they will act, even if they don’t mean to. The rowdy kid in grade school knew everyone perceived him as disruptive, and so he was. The teacher expected bad behavior, and the expectations were fulfilled.

Consider the profound impact this can have on your own life. Are the assumptions and expectations you have about yourself liberating or victimizing? There are countless examples of “self-fulfilling prophecies,” or the Law of Expectations at work in everyday life. Ever notice how people who think they’re going to be fired suddenly experience a drop in the quality and enthusiasm for their work? Then what happens? They get fired! Their belief causes them to act a certain way, and those expectations then work to bring about the very thing that at first was only a figment of their imagination.

In another study, second graders listened to statements from their teachers before taking a math test. There were three types of statements: expectation, persuasion, or reinforcement.

The expectation statements went something like, “You know your math really well!” or “You work really hard at your math.” Persuasion statements involved sentences like, “You should be good at math.” or “You should be getting better math grades.” Finally, for the reinforcement statements, teachers said things like, “I’m really happy about your progress” or “This is excellent work!”

Now, what do you think the results were? The scores were the highest in the “expectation” category! Why were the expectation statements the most effective? They created personal assumptions within each student. Those assumptions conditioned the actual external results.

Don’t Zone Out! Find Focus With A Theme

What happened to the time? When we are busy in our day-to-day lives, it sometimes seems that whole seasons pass in a blink. And the goals we have…well, they can easily slip by in that blur too. You want to WAKE UP: to get control of your time and meet your goals. But how?

In coaching, we sometimes talk about our lives being in the process. That is, our lives are constantly flowing forward over and around the highs and lows of our everyday experiences, like a river. As humans we often try to minimize those ups and downs: We plan for the future, we dwell on the past and thus avoid experiencing the emotion at this present moment. As a result, we dampen our aliveness and sort of zone out. No wonder we suddenly “wake up” to realize minutes, even days or weeks, have passed us by!

Have you ever had the experience of driving a car only to find yourself suddenly at your destination? Where have you been? Not present, that’s for sure! But really, what does it mean to be present in your day-to-day life?

It’s quite challenging to focus all your attention on this moment. Try it: As you are reading these words, slow down. Experience the action of reading one word at a time. What sounds do you hear in the room around you? How comfortable are you? How are you breathing? Recognize that you are alive, right now, in this moment. What was that like for you?

Here’s another experiment. Go ahead and laugh – – but try this anyway. It may give you a whole new way to be in the moment: As you go through your day, ask yourself: Where’s my butt? On a chair? Against a wall? Walking past the consignment shop on Main Street? Crazy as it sounds; it is very difficult not to be present when you’re trying to figure out where your rump is!

OK! Now you’ve tried rump awareness and have probably heard all kinds of other advice for becoming present at the moment – breathing, mindfulness, meditation, and so forth. Now broaden the concept: how can you stay present and focused on a project or goal in your life? Select a theme.

Here’s how it works: As an example, my theme for my business this year is “fun and inspired action.” This theme serves as a filter. Each month, I review my business goals through the lens of my theme and prioritize those that will be the most fun and give me and my clients the most inspiration. Brainstorming projects to undertake, I look for those that best match my theme. My theme gives me a sense of exploration when choosing new opportunities. FUN!

A client of mine has a theme for the month in regard to his job search: Action! Driven by action he’s got some aggressive goals for landing job interviews. In every step he takes he asks himself, “does this forward my action toward my goals?” You should see the guy – he’s on fire!

What is YOUR theme? It’s time for you to wake up and be on fire too!

Micro-managing – Lessons for leaders from helicopter parenting

Leaders would do well to understand that micro-managing is like the helicopter parent who is seemingly disapproving of all that their team members do.

I was trying to relate this one to my own personal experience and found it so relevant that I chose to share with you some insights that I gained.

This was about 30 years back when my wife and I were dating.  Being brought up in a conservative family environment where all decisions in your life were taken by parents, was blasphemous, to say the least.  Those were the days when parents thought that all that they did was in the best interests of the family and they were always ‘right’.

They were disapproving of our relationship and did all in their power to stop us from seeing each other.  That included, for my poor partner being locked up for days at home to character assassination of yours truly to extremes like threats to disown us.

The interesting thing about all these attempts was that the more they did of these, the closer and tighter we became in our relationship.  We started to find immense strength from each other’s company and felt like having the power to take on the world.  There was something very unnerving of about parents meddling in their children’s affairs that appeared to motivate us kids to rebel.

I realized that the more I was told to refrain from doing something, the more resolute I became in continuing.  The idea became more and more appealing to me and my partner.

The lesson here is that talking more and offering suggestions often were counterproductive and had low success rates.  Isn’t it similar to smokers still continuing to smoke despite all the graphic pictures and symbols shown on the pack?  I am sure you can relate to this when anyone tries to hard sell you an idea and the way you dig in your heels to oppose or stall it with vigor.

The harder we are pushed, the harder we resist!

Today, absenteeism, non-cooperation, and employee disengagement are early warning signs of a micro-managing boss.   

Employee turnover is the ultimate act of defiance against the leaders who have been guilty of micro-managing and giving little or no autonomy to their employees.

As with parenting, leaders need to be less controlling and more supportive and facilitative in their approach.  All the more important for leaders who are working with Gen Z, Gen X, and Gen Alphas.

Any attempt to control can lead to what social psychologists call the “Romeo and Juliet” effect.  As was the case with me and my partner.  The impact of that is still relevant.