Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wisdom - it's everywhere - just look around

They say - wisdom is nothing but common sense in uncommon amount. How true! More wisdom can be observed right around ourselves in some of the most common activities. We just need to tune our antennas correctly to receive the faint signals of wisdom. As they say - best humor is found amongst people and their routines. So is best wisdom.

'Barber always lathers before shaving.' What possible wisdom can be there in this? For the person who observed this closely enough to come up with this quote, there is tonnes. Barber, his act of lathering before (not after) shaving and then the act of shaving itself can teach us a lot about how to communicate.

Here barber is someone who has to communicate something difficult to get the desired results. Shaving is like the act of communicating something difficult. If you look closely, shaving when not done correctly, can be very rough and dangerous. Output of poor shaving can be seen in our daily lives. Typical examples include when you have to shave in a hurry that too when you have run out of sharp new razor blade and less than a dollop of shaving cream mocks you at the edge of  a almost squeezed out tube. What you get is not a clean shaven face but few hairs removed with a lot of cuts and blood streaks as  witness to the tragedy.

Coming out of gory and bloody details of shaving gone awry. Let's see if this analogy can be used in our communications. Lathering is a metaphor for smoothening the situation. If you say something good before breaking the bad news, it prepares the ground well. The person who has to listen to what is important is prepared well to receive your feedback which may not be received well if you blurt it out just like that. Straight shooters - take note. Realize that shortest path between two points may not always be a straight line, it can be a curve as well. So do not always shoot straight.

They say best way to give feedback (especially on something) you would like to see changed is to first say something good about the person on a related topic then tack on the negative feedback to the positive. Person get's it. He is not going to miss your important feedback because you have praised him a bit in the beginning. Since you have lathered with good words to begin with, he is going to last your shaving session even if your blades are not the sharpest. If you have a really sharp blade (i.e. good at giving constructive criticism), lathering is only going to make that so much easier. God help you if you have a blunt blade. Then you need all the lathering you can give before beginning your shaving session with your blunt blade. End result is what you want or hope for- clean shaven face (i.e. transformed person who incorporates your feedback and lives up to your expectations.)


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