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Saturday, November 12, 2011


Have you ever though that every part of the body has a defined function which acts in coordination with the other parts in absolute precision. That is what makes the human body one of the most complex machines in the known universe. But we as humans have found ways to misuse this machine to an extent that it can hurt the wellbeing of others. Today let me try and put my views on using our tongue without brakes especially within the context of the workplace.

I you have worked in an organization you would be able to relate to what I am going to write. There is no doubt that a lot of people find spice in life only by talking about others. Somehow they find so much joy in doing this each and every day in their life. I feel that such people can be defined by a set of characteristics. First they are people who don’t have much in their own life that is worth talking about. Their achievements are very limited and they can survive only by putting others down. They are fully aware that what they are saying about the other person may not be correct but they still will continue with their attack. Secondly, they are people with very low self esteem and self confidence. Many times this lack of self esteem is the result of not having achieved much in the first place. Talking ill of others or indulging in small talk is their way of boosting their ego. Such people are only looking for a way of surviving on the margins of the life cycle and are seldom achievement oriented. Finally, such people lack professional courage and cannot accept the growth of others around themselves. I believe that it takes a lot of courage to look into the eyes of a competing colleague and congratulate them on their achievement. There is always a tendency to pull down others rather than to hold on to them and learn to climb to ladder. This is termed as crab mentality and relates to such people who will find negative things even in the most positive work of their peers and will keep criticizing them for everything. It describes a kind of selfish, short-sighted thinking which runs along the lines of “if I can't have it, neither can you.” When someone has a crab mentality, it means that they are unwilling to allow someone to get out of a situation, or to get ahead. In a classic example of crab mentality, people who are attempting to get out of bad work situations often find themselves foiled by peers who keep sucking them back in.

Workplace, especially in the domain of education is a place for role models, for people who have absolute control over their tongue. They need to understand very clearly that words spoken once cannot be taken back and what they speak has an impact on a lot of young minds. It is thus, essential that they learn to tame the tongue. I have had situations in higher education work space where people indulge in such practices. This is however a common trait among employees in almost every type of work place. These are also the very people who will have the first complaint that the work culture of the place in not good. Seldom do they realize that work culture of the organization is not made up of buildings and the furniture at the work place but the people like them and their behaviors.

In my experience, I have also found that if there is too much of back biting activity among the employees or there is loose talk going on then you need to look at reassignment of work among the employees. This is an indication that they do not have enough work and the resources of the organization are being wasted. In a situation like this, it is important to begin to talk to each employee and to start making work assignments and the dates for completion. You will find that such activity begins to reduce and a better work culture is in the process of being established.

As employees, we all need to reflect back and see if we are our self promoting this kind of culture in our organizations. My recommendation has always been talk to your peers and co-workers and not about them. If you need to talk to one person about the other person, then you are responsible for the bad work culture of the place. Keep your head high and remember you are not perfect either.

The crab mentality is a reflection of the famous saying “we all like to see our friends get ahead, but not too far ahead.” Learning to recognize the crab mentality in you is a very good idea, especially if you work or live in a highly competitive environment.

Read and think if we are part of the problem or the solution

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