Tag Archives: Empathy

Whom to listen and follow – your heart or head?

Follow head or heart? Source: http://www.flickr.com/

Your spontaneous response probably would be – I should follow my heart! This is what you have heard, read or been told time and again by your role models, mentors, teachers or gurus, well known authors or leaders!! But, can you exactly pin point – this is the voice or thought from my heart and that one is from my head? Everyone agrees that head speaks to you all the time; but does heart also do so or it speaks selectively?

Let us take examples of goons, gurus and gods. Do goons have heart as well as head? Off course they do! If you read real stories of goons or gangsters, they do have compassion, albeit for certain class of people – their dear ones or those for whose cause they have become trouble makers or cruel. So, when they show compassion, our conventional wisdom would say they are driven by their heart. But, what happens when they demonstrate cruelty or terror? It may be convenient for most of us to think that it’s because of their head! What happens to their heart at that time? Does it go sleeping; it does not prevent them to perpetrate pains to others? There seems to be a contradiction! Can heart or head switch off and on, depending upon one’s comfort or convenience?

Now, take example of gurus or even successful corporate leaders. A good guru or leader is supposed to be highly balanced and treat all of his followers or fellows on equal footing. He or she would reject any advance by his/her follower/s to come closer; otherwise, he/she runs the risk of falling from grace like it happened with Bill Clinton former US President, Tiger Woods famous golfer or David Petraeus former CIA Director in US. So, a successful guru or leader would never be drawn into emotions! Does that mean gurus or leaders don’t have heart? If no, then from where come their kind and congenial behavior? Yet; most believe that gurus and leaders work through only their heads; that is why they are dispassionate and even desert their comforts and families for their pursuits.

Now for god; in all religions, Gods have been projected to operate through their meta-physical powers or enlightened mind like Buddha. There is nothing like separate voices of their heads or hearts!

How do we differentiate what comes from heart and one from head?

What we tend to relate to heart!

Most consider following feelings and functions belong only to heart:

  1. Love
    We connect every form of love to our heart; but not respect!
  2. Kindness and compassion
    We believe an act of kindness can only come from heart. Only heart is capable of being compassionate; but being considerate, inconsiderate or impersonate is handiwork of our head.
  3. Empathy and sympathy
    Same as in point 2 above; supposed to ooze out of our heart!
  4. Passion and devotion
    We don’t believe that passion for a person or profession, devotion for god, nature, nation or duties can come from head; it is heart!
  5. Positive emotions
    All positive emotions as above and others like happiness, fun, fervor or excitement have been perceived by us as regime of heart!

So, coming from heart, everything is considered right! Heart can’t commit any crime or mistake!!

The rest goes to head!

That seems to be a blatant truth!!

  1. Rationale and reasoning
    Only our head has competence to rationalize and understand the realities – this is what all believe!
  2. Judgement and justice
    That is the job reserved for our head.
  3. Anticipation and analysis
    We believe these functions exclusively belong to our head!
  4. Knowledge and niches
    Our head or brain is the repository of our knowledge, specialties, talents, traits, information, intelligence and habits!
  5. Duties and discipline
    All ideas about our duties and discipline are comprehended by our head.
  6. Convictions
    All of our beliefs, faith and principles get developed and executed by our head.
  7. Negative emotions
    Our brain (head) also takes the brunt of every negative feelings and/or actions – reactions, obsession, anger, anxiety, greed, gaffe and more!

Does our heart function independent of our head?
Remember that we are not talking of our biological heart here! So, what do we mean when we say our heart talking and we listening? 

Factually speaking, we experience the functions of head and heart only through our mind. Then, how a line gets drawn between voices of heart and head?

If you carefully look at above points, you would soon discover that:

  • We relate all of our positive emotions to heart; but negative emotions to head!
  • We perceive that all “spontaneous but right” thoughts emanate from heart; however, “systematic but right” thoughts and “spontaneous or systematic but wrong” thoughts come from head! 
  • Our heart has only virtues; but head can have both virtues and vices!
  • Our heart operates randomly; but head works on rationale, reasoning or realities!
  • Our heart receives only compliments and credits; but head receives both credit and discredit!

Secret of how heart differs from head!

Whatever you want to call it – scientific, material or spiritual fact is both heart (emotional not biological) and head resides in one and same mind!

There is only one and singular situation, when your thoughts are very appealing to you; those are positive and right and that situation comes “When you are thinking purely in present time forgetting the past”. 

When you think in present but keeping reference to past memory however old or fresh (like a second before), then you can go either right or wrong! This is what all of us do all the time and that is actually our head speaking. But thinking is just present, when our mind merge with current moment, is what we have accidentally come to understand – “That’s my heart speaking”! 

So, it is correct to follow your heart. But, you now have a new perspective – what exactly it means when your heart speaks. It can speak as often as you try! Remember, it is very subtle but gives you superlative power for correct decision making and revolutionizing your life/career!

 

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Thinking for others’ good actually does much good to you; vice versa if it is bad!

Thinking well beyond self! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

When you wish well for your near and dear or pray for someone’s recovery from poor state of health, you always imagine or wish that it reaches that person, however remote she or he may be!

Lot of research has been conducted whether wishing or praying for someone’s wellbeing helps her/him or not. Praying for something good to happen or someone’s good health is practiced in one form or another in all races and religions in the world. Remote prayer is classically known as Intercessory Prayer (IP).

In 2006, Harvard professor Herbert Bensen had conducted systematic study of therapeutic effect of IP on more than 1,800 people; but no conclusive proof could be found. Work done by other researchers – Dr. Charles Bethea, Richard Dawkins, Jeffery Dusek etc. did not bring out consistent effect of IP or existence of any divine intervention consequent to IP. Such research over last several decades has been done in several permutations and combinations:

  1. Prayers (or good wishes) by strangers remotely
  2. Prayers by strangers locally
  3. Prayers by known people remotely
  4. Prayers by known people locally

Above 4 combinations gets multiplied by 8 times, considering that people praying had belief or no belief in prayers, prayer was offered with or without knowledge of concerned person, concerned person had belief in prayers or not and prayer was offered in anticipation of an event or post event. That brings a total of 32 types of prayers and there can possibly be more! 

In many societies, there are rituals for inviting divine powers to bestow good things like peace, prosperity or rains, in case of famine.

What is striking in all of above examples is that the biggest beneficiary is stranger, who holds strong belief that her/his (sincere) prayers or wishes do work and next is that recipient of good wishes, who feels good or grateful to the people, who prayed for her/him, regardless whether she or he is benefited or not!

Do thoughts travel from one to another point or person?

There is no scientific evidence yet; it remains a conjecture! Also, far cry is whether divine intervenes upon invitation through holy words or chanting!!

Yes; your thoughts or prayers affect you directly and that is what all studies prove! If the recipient’s sensory system is triggered by your expressions (on account of your thoughts or prayers), then resultant thoughts in mind of the recipient would impact him. Key is the kind of thought that gets developed in the mind of recipient. In exactly same situation, it is quite common that different recipients develop different thoughts. It is for this reason that above mentioned research on IP has shown varying results!

Why your good thoughts for others bring you more glorious results!

No doubt, you must think good about self. However, you run one risk, when you focus only on yourself – it can expand your ego, while enhancing your confidence; it may drive you into comfort zone, while compromising your efforts to excel!

On other hand, there are umpteen number of upsides in thinking good for others, regardless what they are:

  1. It is impossible to think good about others sincerely, without first feeling good about self. 
  2. When you think good for others, you go beyond self! This is a real trigger for many good things to come to you!!
    A manager, who thinks good for his/her customers and employees, would automatically be greatly benefited.
  3. You become humble and honest.
  4. You become open minded and optimistic.
  5. You are compelled to drop your ego and biases!
  6. Your vision broadens and wisdom deepens!
  7. It gives birth to empathy and you start to reap rich dividend from same.
  8. It instantly increases your competence to manage conflicts and allow you to deal with good and bad with same candor!
    If you have a difficult boss and go to meet him with decent feelings for him accepting what he is, you would have no difficult to deal with him. Even if he throws toxicity at you, you would automatically refrain yourself to get engaged with or escalate it. This can only help change behavior of boss towards you.
  9. Seeds of a true leadership is sown, when you rise above self and think about others and their good!

So far so good; look at the opposite side!

It is seldom that we think bad about ourselves; but we are ever ready to think bad about others out of envy, rivalry, bias, anger or fear! But, we rarely realize or analyze, if thinking good for others can bring us so much good as above, then thinking bad for others can also multiply into too much bad for us!

Above is what you can watch or I can vouch that it is rampant in our daily rigmarole!

It is impossible that our bad behavior, in any form, can ever bring us success or glory. Some people claim that they get pleasure; but that is sadistic and shameful! It is not possible to have good time with bad mind! 

If you are negative inside, you can never create positive outside (for others) or get positive results. Likewise, if you are genuinely positive inside, it is not possible that you can ever create negativity for others.

Very often, I hear people saying “To survive in this cruel world, you can’t be kind; look at that crook – how destiny is kind to him!” This is nothing but our illusion. Most probably, we don’t know real sufferings of the crook.

So, if you want great life, be genuinely good to others. Life would be without luster, if you flick between good and bad (which most do) or without light, if you stick to bad!

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Me, my heart and mind – how different these are!

Amazing power of your mind! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

This topic touches everyone’s heart and/or mind. Very frequently, we say “Oh, my mind created this mess! What can I do?”; “My mind says don’t love this person; but, my heart says, I should!”; “I want to let it go; however, my mind does not allow me to do so”. In these statements, we separate I or me from our heart and mind. We also treat heart (not biological or physical heart but one as a source of spirit or feelings) being separate from mind.

Majority of people relate I or me to our physical being like what we see ourselves in a mirror; when it comes to spiritual being, we think of our mind. We mostly consider our mind as a source of thoughts or ideas and inspiration; on other hands, we perceive heart as metaphysical entity which gives us emotions, compassion or what many think as “inner voice”!

What exists physiologically or scientifically is “our body including brain”; but we can only experience presence of mind and heart, although we are unable to see them physically.

Are I or Me, Mind and Heart separate entities?

A lot has been said or written by sages, saints, spiritual or religious leaders, scientists and scholars on this aspect. But, as of date, there is remarkable inconsistency in the understanding of mind and heart as opposed to “I”!

Several thinkers and authors don’t see I or me as a mere physical being but have landed a much larger meaning by terming it as “Self”! This “Self” is supposed to control all of your thoughts, actions, good and bad karmas and has linkage to God and universe. Though they don’t say explicitly but seem to encompass mind, heart and soul into “Self”!

There is also ironical aspect of why we tend to treat these as separate entities. If we go wrong somewhere or commit a gaffe, it is very handy to blame it on our mind or heart; it is very egotistical though!

Then, we routinely experience several phases or states, which seem to suggest that there are many more entities connected with us, apart from “I”, mind and heart, of which main ones are:

  1. Inner voice, gut feel, intuition, instinct or 6th sense
  2. Consciousness, intellect or wisdom
    Most people relate these to mind; but, some relate the same to soul.
  3. Conscious and subconscious minds
    Some theories have postulated that subconscious mind does not reside in your body. Universe has only one subconscious mind which is connected with all conscious minds!
  4. Bliss and enlightenment
  5. Soul, maya and nirvana

Not knowing or unable to discover what exactly above states or phases are, scholars, thinkers and religious leaders in the past have concluded that there must exist more entities like soul, self, subconscious mind and prana in Indian context (i.e. life or consciousness). Masses have found it expeditious to accept idea of different entities. It is a fact that when an unknown or intangible is given identity by a name, over a period of time we start to perceive it as real, though in reality it is still an illusion. Worse still is when science is clueless and it becomes part of faiths! Lack of right understanding of what is fundamental to our life has been instrumental for our constant struggle with cycles of good and bad!

Can you experience or express any of the above without your mind? The answer is “No”! Are you able to identify I or me without mind? That is not possible. What we relate to heart, can that be experienced without mind?

Then, how these can be separate entities?

Mind is the only candidate for eventual reality!

Here are concrete evidences:

  • For ages, there has been no direct evidence of any other entity; whatever has been described above are indirect or inferred!
  • Mind loses its meaning, if you want to see it as a physical entity!
  • How can you ever observe very entity, by help of which you make that observation?
    It would never be possible to find mind directly in observable form! 
  • Memory of our mind works like that of a computer. Please see a previous post on Notions and Perceptions.
    Every idea (or thought) and image of an observed object are broken by mind into 2 main files – Knowledge (pure information or information analyzed by mind) and Emotions i.e reactions. Starting point of both files is “I” or me as knowledge i.e. self-awareness and ego as emotion! It is because of this, “I” or me are always associated with mind.
    Emotions are further broken down into sub files (a) positive emotions or experiences and (b) negative ones. Pleasure, compassion, empathy, ecstasy and like get stored as sub sets of file (a). Anger, anxiety, distress, disappointment and like are stored as sub sets of file (b).
    All of these files and their sub sets get interlinked via main memory of mind like RAM of computers.
  • Now very crucial information – when your mind goes into “No conflict of thoughts” mode i.e. when you have single thoughts in the present time and you evoke a decision say I love it, your mind connects to knowledge sub file of your like and emotion sub file of pleasure. Next moment, when this combination becomes your memory, you realize “Oh, it was from my heart!”
    I have to be brief here. But, I can explain to you on receiving your query, how above process gives you feeling of inner voice, bliss, enlightenment, subconscious mind or soul! 

The most important message is – whatever you experience is all interlinked and resides in your mind. That you must nurture your mind positively to tap its amazing potential!

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For true impact, treat communication more as a trait than technique!

Impact of great communication! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

TED talks are hugely popular all over world. These are 18 minutes or less duration powerful video presentations by world’s most inspired thinkers and speakers from host of disciplines and cultures. Some of TED talk presenters communicate very effectively. “Talk like TED” has caught fancy of several communicators and tips to talk like TED have wide circulation!

Can toeing the tips make you a good communicator?

World has witnessed several iconic communicators, whose words and work have revolutionized paradigm of millions of people. Among living legendary communicators are Chris Anderson – founder of TED talks, Warren Buffet – one of the richest investors, Tony Robbins – incredible motivational speaker, Richard Branson – founder of Virgin group in UK and Jack Welch – former chairman and CEO of GE. You can find numerous essays, articles and videos analyzing styles of these and other famous communicators.

By emulating these styles, can you become an effective communicator?

Then, there are host of training and development programs for communication/presentation skills. These teach the techniques in a variety of ways, including multimedia. These are very helpful to understand guidelines, rules and techniques of communication.

But, do these techniques make you a terrific communicator?

Practical experience and examples show that there is much more than techniques, tips and styles, when it comes to good communication.

Top ten advisory for great communication skills

Let us take top ten points, which most would agree, has top ranking in making communication impressive.

  1. Exhibit enthusiasm and engagement
    Audience receiving your communication must generate a natural feeling that you are indeed excited to interact with them and that you are totally involved in what you are doing. Training or teaching can make you aware of these attributes but can’t endow the same. You definitely need 2 qualities to exhibit these – ownership and sincerity! If you are missing on these, no amount of coaching or style would help you.
  2. Good body language
    How you present and conduct yourself have colossal effect on your audience. Your body language reflect what you are. Body language includes right type and amount of eye contact with audience. Lot of people believe they can make up the body language; not only that is bunk, it casts a bad impression on your audience.
    Your body language can be good only if you are good – good by character, values and mannerism! Right type and degree of your eye contact comes through your conviction and empathy!!
  3. Be simple and sweet
    This is what people from every class love most!
    Can any technique or tip make you simple and sweet? You have to develop trait for it and be genuine to make it part of your routine life. If you are complex by thought or nature, it is just impossible that simply because you are standing on a prestigious platform, you can switch on to become simple and sweet! It would look fake.
  4. Communicate what your audience can relate
    If you can’t carry your audience with you, it would misfire; people would not be impressed.
    So, you ought to convey what your audience can relate easily and appreciate. It would come easily to you, if you carry deep respect for others. This is possible if you forego your ego!
  5. Put away distractions
    People lose interest, if you distract. You have to stay on course. This is possible, only when you are focused!
    If you are normally not focused, don’t believe that suddenly you would be able to focus, since your stakes are high.
  6. Really listen
    It is a universal fact that listening is far more significant that speaking! If you communicate like one way street, you would be stuck and cut a sorry figure.
    To be a good listener, you need to be free from your ego, biases and be open minded!
  7. Be brief and precise
    Long communication are never welcome. Human listening faculties don’t work efficiently, when used for more than 20 minutes at a stretch. If you don’t hit and highlight the key point/s early enough, your communication would lose its purpose. This calls for presence of mind and avoiding over-enthusiasm!
  8. Be part of audience
    If you stand apart from audience, it would be averse to own what you are communicating. You can excite or inspire people, when you genuinely show that you part of them. This is possible, if you drop your ego and prop up your sincerity and humility!
  9. Tell a story
    All of us love stories, as these create thrill or chill. When emotions are evoked, effectiveness multiplies!
    Yes, art of telling a story can come from coaching and practice. However, your expressions or body language play a vital role in invigorating the audience!
  10. Ask for feedback
    Demonstrate to your audience how much you care for their views and feedback. Midway of your conversation, check from audience what you are delivering is making sense to them, are they satisfied with your answers to their questions, is your explanation simple and direct and then take overall feedback.
    Feedback makes real sense, when you exhibit ownership and open mindedness!

If you evaluate highlighted words under above points, you would realize that more than training and tips, a good communication has more to do with your character and qualities i.e. trait.

To sum up, rules without reasoning and techniques without trait are too mechanical and mundane to make meaningful impact!

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Do Companies bring Change by choice or under compulsion of a crisis?

Is Change not Charismatic? Source: http://www.flickr.com/

“Change” is the most celebrated word across the world – from individuals to communities, corporates and countries! But, how serious are we, when we say “Change”?

Change encompasses innovations, ideas, redefining, reviewing, restructuring and redeeming! Change represents a dynamic state and breathes new and fresh. Catch phrase of nearly every celebrity is “Change is the only constant in universe!” Such splendid is the significance of change; but unfortunately it is seldom understood in its entirety!!

If companies are not changing proactively, then they face decline in 5 stages, as per Jim Collins, author of best seller “Good to Great”:

  1. Hubris born of success
    Great enterprises get insulated by success, though momentum already set in carry them forward while their leaders lose discipline and make poor decisions. This stage kicks in when people of these companies become arrogant and believe that success is their entitlement!
  2. Undisciplined pursuit of more
    This stage comes, when companies start to think we are great and we can do anything! They go for more scale, more growth, more acclaim and all what bring pat on their back from those in power. All these happen in undisciplined and reckless manner.
  3. Denial of risks and peril
    At this stage, internal warning signals begin to mount but external results of the company remain strong. Management explains away disturbing data or declares difficulties as temporary.
  4. Grasping for salvation
    Now, decline of the company becomes visible to all and talks of salvaging begins.
  5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death
    At this point, enterprises start to face threat of extinction. They struggle to survive.

Paradoxically, most companies are unaware of their decline that creeps in during 1st three stages! By the time crisis is visible at 4th stage, they are already deep into the same!!

General Electric and Toyota Motors of Japan are some of very few companies, who have been proactively changing and hence ever thriving. Apple Inc., Intel and Samsung are among those, who did dip to stage 1 or 2; but bounced back by quickly by adopting changes. IBM, HP, Xerox, Merck and Numec were iconic companies at one stage but fell to stage 4; however their leadership showed courage to stage a comeback. However, one time icons like General Motors, Ford and BlackBerry are among those, who have been languishing at stage 4 for substantial time and no one knows whether they would ever be able restore their old glory. On the other hand, one time gems – Arthur Anderson, MCI WorldCom, Pan Am, General Foods Corp., Compaq, RCA etc. went down to stage 5 and became extinct!

It is apparent that most company may clamor and claim for change proactively, but they actually change only when they are in crisis and hence, run risk of not reaping fruits of change and chance of their success is odd.

It would be highly interesting to know that even decline of a successful individual happens over 5 stages:

  1. Getting overwhelmed by success and becoming opaque to realities – superiority complex!
  2. Clamoring for more successes, ignoring steps followed to climb initial success – overconfidence!
  3. Denial for presence of defects and difficulties – arrogance!
  4. Start to worry about increasing woes – anxiety!
  5. Loss of identity – condemned!

What does above scenario reveal?

Change under crisis is compressed but quick!

A crisis brings do or die situation! At any scale from nations to natives, under crisis, one either swims or sinks!!

It is ironical but true that the brink brings out the best or worst. Changes under crisis are costly but very quick. History shows that great innovations, ideas, courage, cohesion and all what we call as Change came about during wars or setbacks.

Here below are pros and cons of bringing change under crisis:

  • Crisis presents a binary situation – bounce back or get banished.
  • Changes, which happen, are costly, compressed and concentrated, since focus is on coming out of crisis. These changes are often not wide spread.
  • A by-product can often be good momentum to progress, which continues beyond a crisis. That is good.
  • But all of above may not be good enough to change character or DNA of country, company or individual.
    This poses high risk for entity or individual to go into cycles of successes and setbacks.
  • One of the most serious implications is while in crisis people tend to lose balance and belief in good. Prudential principles and practice can take a back seat or beating! 

So, crisis is a great initiator or destroyer, but not a creator! Creation of new or different comes only post extinction!!

Changes by choice are expansive and elite!

Changes by choice means changing proactively through contemplation, self-evolvement and self-drive! Doing it by choice brings ownership and motivation.

Change by choice is no longer a change by charter, as happens under crisis; instead it becomes a change of character and culture!

Often companies or individuals, despite good intention to change by choice, trip midway because their attempts to change is non-inclusive. Look at some examples, which are doomed to failure:

  • Change in favor of empowerment; but not having trust on who to be empowered!
  • Resolving to be sensitive to employees, but with lack of empathy!
  • Promising fairness; but not being free from biases!

So, when change happens by choice and is inclusive and expansive, then it is sustainable and supremely beneficial from all aspects!

So, why not change by choice, instead of waiting for crisis to coerce us?

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