May 10, 2015 10:53 pm

Shoot the messenger? Or understand the core of the problem?

Filed under: Communication — ramsblog @ 10:53 pm
Tags: ,

Often times, we tend to get wear thinking hats and find the solution even before we hear the problem statement completely in its entirety. Well, most whom I interact with, are engineers, and it is way too common that our brains work alike. It takes a constant awareness to really hold our feet firm on ground and tell ourselves to calm down and understand the problem. I believe understanding the problem is a virtue one could have, that helps to find the solution in half the time , it otherwise would have taken. I remember the statement, my engineering college professor used to say while teaching “Production Technology of Industrial Engineering” –

“A Problem solvably stated is half solved”

I would like to extend this to say – provided we patiently frame the problem statement well.

I ran into these tongue-in-cheek situations about 3 times today – being on both sides. And the observation was, about the same – too quick to offer solutions.

Why do we shoot the messenger way too soon? Why not wait to understand the problem in its entirety? Does ego play a role there? Or Is it the engineer brain that makes us to get into analysis-paralysis way too soon? OR perhaps, the defensive nature, that we are not too good at taking the feedback, accept and acknowledge, and offer comments, if any.

I remember the conversation with a relative few years ago, where i was at a receiving end, when he gave the feedback about the context we were then talking about. I was too quick to reply, in other words, as I think of it now, defended the initiative I was part of. The immediate reply was, he was providing me of his perception of how that initiative looked to outside, me defending or accepting his observation, was up to Me / our team, who led the initiative back then.

When I encountered the similar situation today, I had to really bite my teeth and remember, that I was at a receiving end, so shut up and listen. Likewise, when I was at the other end, providing / observing feedback and observations, it is upto the receiving end to implement – for instance, my phone conversation with Comcast, and Lingo 2 days ago, and several other in-person conversations this weekend. Even as a giver, at times it is good to bite the teeth and tell the self, it is okay –  as long as the goal is to make things right. Again – “not perfect” , but the intention to make things right.

So what is the downside of shooting the messenger?

— Depending on the relationship between the messenger and the receiver, it will be the receiver’s missed opportunities to make things right and learn from the mistakes. It reminds me of another saying “God has given us 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason; Listen at least twice as much we speak”.


Shoot the messenger ? Or Have some patience?

#Context #ListeningSkills #PresentationSkills #OpenCommunication

July 1, 2010 11:01 pm

Ah! my favorite icon on this application…

Filed under: Communication,Software,Tech,Tools — ramsblog @ 11:01 pm

What does it mean when a speaker presenting a tool says “ this part of the feature is my favorite” pointing to the help/report problems icon and goes on saying “it reports all the required information and I have seen a lot of people using this feature on this product”

Does it mean:
1. This product is so clever and collects all the relevant information to troubleshoot further?


2. Tool isn’t intuitive enough that makes users to seek help often?

Would I still buy that product?


May 29, 2009 11:59 pm

Appa, please drive slow….

Filed under: Children,Communication,Parenting,Safety — ramsblog @ 11:59 pm

Our 4yr old daughter has acquired this awareness that if I ever drive a little faster, she would realize and tends to caution me. I am not sure how she got this attention these days, it is probably because she has observed a lot and started noticing cars pulled over the shoulder, and she has started recognizing the cars with a note “Police.”  She appears to be more concerned about 2 things:
a. be cautious so not hit anyone or anything
b. (in her words), police will come and take you away

We, as good parents, started explaining her the role of the police officers and not really have the false fear. Be proud of having those officers around who help the community be safe. The role helps the community, the children, the people around be safe from any adversities and accidents. Help people around if they need help on roads.

I believe she has started to have the sense of awareness and building up the sense of being cautious and go by the structured rules or lay out a plan/structure along the way. Well! I must admit, these things are only by her own will and not necessarily apply for everything, like throwing the play toys, books, and beads all across the house, until I say I am going to pack all these stuffs and put them in the garage.:)

Other cautious things she observers while driving:
a. mommy/appa, we should not drink (in our case water:) ) while driving
b. daddy are you looking at front while driving? please do not turn towards me while driving.
c. I don’t want to bump to another car or a curb.
and so on…

May 27, 2009 6:44 am

Host’s role in setting the stage…

Filed under: Art,Communication,Events,Interview,Professional skills — ramsblog @ 6:44 am

it does really matter to have a great host in any events – specially for presentations. All this while until a few years ago, I thought Host/Hostess at the presentation would only introduce the speaker and end the meeting as appropriate. However, Hosts do a lot beyond this. What other things Hosts perform.

–> Ensure the lighting is right for both presenter and the host
–> ensure speaker’s accessibility needs taken care
–> welcome and greet both speaker and the guests as they enter
–> talk to few early birds at the meeting, about the speaker
–> when presenter is already inside the room, ensure to give all the time he needs and not steal away their time
–> Provide absolutely great credibility to the speaker. The way people listen to the presenter, most of the time, also depends on how the speaker was introduced at the first place
–> after speaker ends the presentation, make a decent transition to either another speaker or if the meeting is being ended, help speaker make a great exit from the podium and conclude as appropriate

I started thinking about these more and more due to a recent experience at one of the events. These are the things the Host did and it was very very distractive to the audience. Most people in the audience also expressed their (dis-)satisfaction after the meeting that the host was wasting a lot of time on podium.

1. Laptop computer: Being technical savvy is great. having a computer in hand might make you look great. But it was at the same time very distractive. She had her introductory lines typed in. I am not sure if she was promoting Apple mac-book there:) As she would come to the podium, she would also bring the computer over and try to adjust the microphone set so it doesn’t blocks her view to the computer screen. No, the computer was NOT used to project anything while she was at the podium. She would scroll down her notes, and apparently scroll down too much and not knowing where she had stopped and going back and forth before hundreds of people in the room.

oh, after introducing the speaker, the person would take the laptop aside and sit on the staircase and start doing something with computer again. I don’t know if that person realized, but since the room was dark except the podium spot, audience could see the host/hostess’ facial expression while being worked on the laptop computer there.

Moral: Technical gadgets are great, but ensure it does not distract you or the speaker and the audience

2. Being Nervous: Yes, not everyone was born with a boon of not having the stage fear. pretty much everyone has the butterflies in their stomach when they get on the podium. Audience was able to sense that the hostess was nervous a bit – and the self disclosure/disclaimer was also made about nervousness, but it doesn’t have to be told every few minutes the host/hostess is on podium. It only emphasizes more while he/she is on podium and takes away other thoughts and the flow while the nervousness keeps lingering in the mind and only those words are repeated over and over again.

Key: It is ok to disclose about nervousness once, but do not repeat the same again and again.

3. Time on Podium: Understood it is a great opportunity to be on stage before hundreds of people. But if you are a host, ensure you are not taking as much time as the speech would take. Do not spend too much time on the stage. K.I.S.S (Keep it Short and Simple)

5. Smooth Entry and Exit for speaker: Keep an introduction to an extent of providing positive credibility to the speaker and not make it pages and pages or hours and hours to it. Ensure there is an arrangement made to take the speaker from podium safely. There could be darker ambience towards the sides of the stage and speaker might need some help getting off from the bright light to the darker side.

6. Personal Stories: Give out your personal stories if it is appropriate or if it is absolute necessary and if you would like to share personal stories that provides credibility to the speaker, and your positive experience with the speaker or if it is some humor that you would like to share while speaker is on the way to the meeting, so that audience can be engaged with some entertainment.

7. Q&A: Facilitate question and answer session. At times Speaker might prefer to take questions offline and so mention about it. But do not take away the Q&A session and replace with your photo session with the speaker. Oh, Yes! this has happened at this recent event. Host was busy taking pictures with the speaker on the stage, and audience were left out, audience were disappointed for not having the Q&A session. Their response was, at least 2 to 4 questions would have been great instead of hosts taking pictures for 15 minutes on the podium. A short Q&A would have taken approximately about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the context.

It makes me think about these other perspectives now that I have been involved in Toastmasters program more and more and really helps to understand such Do’s and Don’ts for some of the meeting etiquettes.

May 11, 2009 4:55 pm

Can you hear me… hellooo…

Filed under: Cellular Phones,Communication,Computers,Software Quality,Tech,Tools — ramsblog @ 4:55 pm

… I work with regional teams at work and obviously tele-conf calls have been a routine. Most people would tend to dial in from their computers which makes perfect for VOIP conference calls, however, I think there is still a lot of room for improvement in VOIP space, in terms of call quality, noise reduction, latency, etc. I have noticed that we often spend 10 to 15 percent of our 45minute conference call in –
> “Can you hear me?”,
> “you are breaking up”,
> ” you need to speak a bit louder please” ,
> “it is feeble” and so on…

and most funnier of all “Oh! sorry, I was on mute and the VOIP conf call window was lost on my computer” .. —> talk about multi-tasking going for mute/unmute option, conf call application gets hidden in bunch of other open applications on the computer.

March 25, 2009 8:11 pm

Mommy can you please watch me color….

Filed under: Attitude,Children,Communication,Learn/Teach — ramsblog @ 8:11 pm

I am often amazed looking at the children that most grown-ups tend to be more self centered and so much self-conscious that we tend to hate others watching over our shoulders. If you are a software developer, you are most likely be self-conscious on who watches over your shoulder.

When we are home and my 4yr old is in the mood of activities, be it writing numbers, alphabets, some addition, or coloring or playing with toys etc., she always wants us to watch over her. She wants our attention to be on her all the time. She makes us to play roles, making us her teachers at school or making us her classmates, and so on.

She starts coloring and gets makes sure to set the checkpoints and ensures she has our attention. “mommy, can you please watch me coloring”, “mommy, can you please watch me writing a,b,c,d…” etc etc…

At the end of the task she brings her work for review . There is a lot that we can learn our forgotten lessons from children.

February 22, 2009 1:01 am

Reporting Reporting Reporting…

Filed under: Communication,Process Improvement,Project Management — ramsblog @ 1:01 am

How much time do you spend on your status report at what-ever-job-or-business-you-work-with?

Per day, per week, per fortnight, per month, per year?

What is the value add? Who is the audience? How often is it reviewed? How many of those reports are looked back?

When started few years ago, I was a report junkie where I wanted provide the information nitty-gritty activities that goes on. Try to gather some numbers from the tools, formulate the charts, make them colorful, provide the risks and potential mitigation plan, etc etc…

I know the reporting makes it more meaningful provided it has the relevant information, at the same time, we also need to think about the cost involved.

When you look at the Project Management Hierarchy there are several cross functional teams, several levels of management, several applications, and several people of course, and few leads. There are reporting requirement involved at each every level in some way or the other. If you each one is preparing a report towards the same project, where the common goal of every individual, every element involved in the project is towards the project deliverable (you may add any number of factors to it viz., quality, complete functionality, etc etc etc), then think about the amount of time each individual puts in to create that report. Well, most times the specification of what the report should convey might be lacking in many situations, when you do have the expected format or certain expectations, every individual need to adhere to it.

Let’s assume there are about 20 people involved in a project and his/her own skilled areas. each one spending about 30minutes for “so-called-report” –> that makes it to 600minutes of your project time went into reporting and this repeats every week – even if it is 20minutes per individual – translates it to 400 minutes – and that’s about 8 to 10 hours of work.

In my mind, we need to come up with Tools to do such mundane repetitive tasks like gathering the numbers, consolidating the issues etc. Let our human brains do creative work.

Agreed, specially talking about road blocks and attempting towards removing them from the project individuals is what the project management should be looking at. and that would help keep the project healthy, but it is interesting to see the amount of time most projects put into merely status reporting.

borrowing this book from the library to understand what the author has to say about project risk management.

What is your opinion about reporting and how much time do you think would a project spend on such activity?

February 20, 2009 12:37 am

b’coz I told ya…

Filed under: Children,Communication — ramsblog @ 12:37 am

Our daughter is no longer a toddler 2yr old – made me realize lately. There were days when we used to go around and she would ask me bunch of “why” questions and I used to get by giving some sort of answers, and those answers would already have the follow up questions tagged along from her. When I share about such experiences and specially about  “Whys” with others, they would say “hmm… looks like the ultimate answer we would have to respond children is ‘because i said so'” –

Well, off late, it appears like I started asking questions while bringing her back from school or while on way to school to drop her off. Now that she understands some of the traffic rules, she keeps an eye for any mistakes that I might do. anyways, aside, during our Questions and Answers sessions, she tries to answer several of my questions ; but if there are any questions that she’s not aware of the answers, or if she doesn’t want to respond, she has the standard answers: “Beccccaaaause, <pause>”

what would that pause mean? not really been aware all these days…

now she has started some more added to this incomplete phrase

“becccccaaaaause, I told ya!”

well, I know this answer doesn’t convice me, so I ask the same question again, reply comes back “B’coz I told ya!”

a Wheel has turned and it is her position to give such answers now?

November 12, 2008 12:58 pm

I don’t want the birthday….

Filed under: Children,Communication,Events,Fun,Personal — ramsblog @ 12:58 pm

Two nights ago at the dinner table, I asked my 3yr old whether she wants to celebrate her birthday at home. She got excited and started saying lots of things. Two main points were

a. Cut the cake
b. have lots of her friends

I asked her for the names of her friends she wants to invite for her birthday. The list went on and on and on.

Oh about dinner table, my wife said why not make it a candle light dinner and we had dimmed another light and lit 3 big candles. It was a great time all three of us having dinner together. I think we missed soothing music, however, we wouldn’t have noticed the music while our daughter was talking around the time:)

Coming back to birthday conversation, to further on her ideas and plans:
me: I might be traveling and not be here for your birthday
V-  : (her face frowned and I sensed she was a bit sad)
me : (to make it more interesting) hmm…. perhaps, I can be around but your mommy might be traveling and she may not be able to make it.
V-  : (not said anything yet and frowned further with a different look in her eyes)
me and my wife :  (we were watching and now she breaks the silence)
V- : “I am NOT going to have my birthday – I need you both, else no birthday”  (and bursted in tears)

Although I felt bad for making such a joke with her but she got back to normal when we turned the conversation into going to a bounce for her birthday (we had her birthday scheduled at one of the bounce places for previous birthday)

September 22, 2008 6:36 pm

Ignorance is a Bliss? Half-knowledge? complete awareness?

Filed under: Communication,Kannada,Medical,People,Personal,Quotes — ramsblog @ 6:36 pm

Vani posted about her experience related to not having enough information [wise? or otherwise?]  and the thought process around it. It was a great topic that made me write so much into comment section there and turned out a long story that I thought might not be appropriate as a comment post. And here is what I typed in. You may have to read Vani’s post first to get the context. 

“Ignorance is a Bliss” well “it is still a bliss

I was at the toastmaster gathering last Thursday, some one came up with this proverb to talk about. “A little learning is a dangerous thing (One should have full knowledge, rather than spreading incomplete information)” Although it may sound a little contrary but was along the same lines.

I believe it depends on how we comprehend the half knowledge, whether towards expand the understanding or towards make decisions out of it.

I have off late heard that the rule of thumb ” When in doubt, Ask!”

ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಗಾದೆ ಇದೆ  “ಪೂರ್ತಿ ಗೊತ್ತಿರೋವ್ರ ಬಳಿ ಮಾತನಾಡಬಹುದು, ಏನು ಗೊತ್ತಿಲದವರ ಬಳಿ ಮಾತನಾಡಬಹುದು, ಆದರೆ ಅರ್ದಂಬರ್ದ ತಿಳಿದಿರುವವರ ಬಳಿ ಮಾತಾಡೋದು ಕಷ್ಟ!” (translation:  a proverb in Kannada: we can talk to people who are either completely aware or completely unaware, but it is hard to talk to people who have incomplete information) 

Another related Kannada proverb “ತುಂಬಿದ ಕೊಡ ತುಳುಕುವುದಿಲ್ಲ ” –> khaali koda, thumbidha koda are fine but a partially filled pot is noisy!:)

well again, i think it is contextual, in my observation. :)

back to “Ignorance is bliss” –> my favorite example for this is daily News (TV/newspaper/..) about local crime. Not until  we hear something wrong about the area that we would realize to be cautious to go around at nights, but once we hear anything about thefts, or some sort, the fear factor sets in our mind. Though one is ok to go around at nights, the other people around instill more of these telling more stories and make other person feel guilty or afraid to go around again.

My recent experience that made me scary until I went to a nerve specialist: Last winter, I felt a weakness in my left arm. I started to convince myself to say “it is nothing but will be ok”, just like the way you did. A few days later, we called up a nurse line, and according to her explanation upon a series of question and answer session, she said, “You would probably have to see the doctor in next few hours, it could be the symptoms for stroke” –> note, this was when talked to a professional. I was sure afraid, but still made a doctor appointment 2 days later. Went to an MRI of my shoulder; later went to a Nerve Specialist. He conducted several nerve compression tests (approx about $600) and asked me to make another appointment for reports. and the Resuts were for me to go to a physical therapist since there was a minor shoulder strain and it was recovering. I went for a physical therapy for few weeks, it got better. –> so it is all contextual, “at times even having fairly enough knowledge is also not enough“.

That reminds me of a Kannada song “ಹೇಳಿದ್ದು ಸುಳ್ಳಾಗಬಹುದು, ನೋಡಿದ್ದು ಸುಳ್ಳಾಗಬಹುದು, ನಿಧಾನಿಸಿ ಯೋಚಿಸಿದಾಗ ನಿಜವು ತಿಳಿವುದು…” [haeLidhdhu suLLaagabahudhu, nOdidhdhu suLLaagabahudhu, nidhaanisi yochisidhaaga nijavu thiLivudhu…] I don’t remember the name of the movie…

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