Submitted by: Dr. Satya B. Borgohain
I play chess online with the computer before the work starts and lose the game every day. I love to play this game to prepare myself to face failures. Sometimes, I play one or more games to give myself a chance to win and get my moral boosted. After playing several times, sometimes, I win one game and then I stop playing more that day. Because I know the chances of failure are more than winning again. This practice helps me in gaining confidence to encounter challenges and failures in life. I know there is always something to learn from failure.
It is common in human beings that everyone embraces success and no one likes to accept failure. Everyone enjoys sharing successful work, achievements in work or project activities and takes the joy of taking a major role in success stories. People know that there is a point beyond which one should not go further in pursuing with the complicated work/project which might result in failures. In such cases, people look for alternatives.
I have had several instances of cases of facing challenges head-on. Over the years, I started developing an attitude of taking up challenges which others give up on, for being too complicated and difficult. Here, I would like to share experiences on the instances of my own failures in understanding people, their minds and hidden intentions.
“People do not always speak truth. They do not share information truthfully and one does not know what is playing in their minds. You should hear them out and do not believe entirely what they say. Hear from one ear and take out from the other one. Try to read the minds of the people and do what your conscience suggests. You have to explore life yourself and thrive in the competitive world.”
This was the exact same advice my superior in the office had given me on my first day of joining in the office on transfer. Interestingly, I understood the true meaning of this advice and the nature of this person much later. Truth comes out once a person is not in official position. People feel free to share information after a person is no more associated with the organisation. There is no restriction for keeping such information secret. People’s memory is also very short. They forget what they said before and truth remains truth.
I was entrusted with the job of handling a court case relating to the claim for regularisation of services of persons who were engaged through contractor to supply manpower to the company. The agency was awarded the contract after observing all official formalities as per rules and procedures. I was briefed by my superior that the case must be taken up seriously in the court so that the court’s judgement would be in company’s favour. Otherwise, the company would have to bear the burden of offering appointment to a group of 40 persons , the superior remarked.
I understood that the petitioners had no locus standi to claim for regularisation of services since they were not directly appointed by the company. Basically, all these persons were on the roles of the contractor only. I also understood that the regularisation of services of such persons in a government company would amount to back door entry and the same would be construed as ultra vires of the provisions of the Constitution of India on the right to equality of opportunity in employment.
I kept my superior updated on the development of the case in the court from time to time. He listened to me with rapt attention and advised me every time to take up the case with sincerity. My superior was a person who had a way of his idiosyncratic nature and responses to everyone in every situation. I could not read his minds from his facial expressions and actions. However, I had the opportunity of regular interaction and it was easier for me to know more about his nature at an earlier stage.
The case progressed from industrial tribunal to the High Court and ultimately to the Supreme Court of India with the final judgement that came in favour of the company. Interestingly, throughout this period, whenever any strategy was made in consultation with the senior officials, the petitioners came to know about it. It was not known how they came to know about the company’s strategy and action plan from time to time. I could not accurately asses the fact at that point of time.
Another interesting aspect was that the Judge in the Industrial Tribunal tried to manipulate the case in favour of the workmen. Perhaps, he might have been managed. We had justifiable reasons to approach the State Government to transfer the case from his court as per provisions of the laws. Eventually, the case was transferred to other Judge and his judgement was in company’s favour which the High Court also upheld the same subsequently.
In the later stage, while the case was in the Supreme Court, one of the petitioner shared an information. He informed that five of their petitioners (who were sincere in work) were appointed by the contractor at the instant of one of the superior in the company. He also informed that those persons were given the commitment for permanent job by the superior official in the company.
Interestingly, there was no inkling on the part of the superior official whose interest in the case was so artfully blurred that it took time to understand the smoke-screen face and the hidden intentions. The visible failure on my part was to read my superior’s minds in right perspectives at the right time. I understand that it is difficult to know people with short interactions and in a few meetings. But it took time to understand minds and intentions that stood constantly blurred.
In fact, there were enough signals from the superior officer that could have been deciphered to know the hidden interest of the people. One such instance was that the said superior officer influenced a junior level officer who was associated with the case. He was advised to draft an agreement to be signed between the petitioners and the company’s representative for withdrawal of the case in the court. The understanding was that their cases would be considered for regularisation in the due course. While the proposal came to me I discussed the matter with the superior and convinced him that there was no need for such an agreement at that stage since the case had already been upheld in the higher court in company’s favour. My justification was that the decisions of the Tribunal and the High Court (Both single Judge and division bench) were in company’s favour and any MoU with the petitioners would go against the interest of the company. My superior agreed to the proposal but did not open up his minds.
Now, while I recall the case I find an answer. All the 40 persons were not unfit for the jobs . At least, those who were sincere and hard working type ( 5 persons) could have been engaged in the company by applying proper procedures. This could have saved company’s money, time and energy. But the fact that the people were thinking in parallel lines and the minds of the superior officer were not revealed.
I learnt a good lesson on my failure to understand the dynamics of person-to-person interventions. I felt the need for a new paradigm on understanding human beings and human minds. The need for a response that one’s minds remain a constant reminder to be super sensitive. What I know is that people acquire manoeuvring tactics but the challenge remains how to know minds of people with smokescreen in expressions. The lessons I learnt helped me a lot in understanding people and taking decisions in subsequent phases of my career. This is an area on which I have to share some more experiences in my professional life.
It is essential to understand what the other person communicates, either through verbal or non-verbal modes of communication. It is a human quality to read the minds of the people which differs from person to person. You may have similar experiences that we all need to sharpen our skills in understanding people, their minds and the intents hidden in the human psyche. Sometimes, people say something which is not in coherence with what their minds think and the actions follow.
Perhaps, in the changing world, we all need to articulate the powers of constant observations, the critical ways of thinking, the level of intelligence in catching the signals which emanates naturally from human interaction, and, the maturity in matching the wavelength with one another. Take for granted, nothing remains hidden. Let’s embrace failures, learn from our ignorance, our failures and make failures work for us.
I conclude by quoting a line from Budha’s thought “ When we take what is wrong as right and what is right as wrong, it is ignorance. Ignorance is the only cause of sufferings ”.
SBBPosts: Serial 01: February 19, 2021