Monday, October 25, 2021

Logic is fallacy

"Here he comes! This is the guy I was talking about."

I don't know how you guys feel if, when you walk in to join a group, someone says this. Me, I feel that I should have stayed back home curled with a book. Daniel walking into that den of lions would probably have been less scared.

"The guy who has a problem with every way decisions get made?"

"Hey, wait! That's not true," I bleated.

"Tell me guys," said the chap who announced mu august presence, "If everyone in your group said something is right, what do you say?"

"That it is right, of course."

People really did say things in chorus, even when not in school!

I said, "But that is a logical fallacy - argumentum ad populum. Just because something is believed by everyone..."

I stopped, the knowing grins on everyone's face and the 'Was I not right?' gesture from the main lead stopping me.

"Ok! If, on whether to trust a person from a certain community, your dad says 'No'?"

"Of course, they cannot be trusted!" There is always a best student in any class, pushing to answer the way the teacher wanted him to!

Drat him. Otherwise, this would have been a huge mistake and I'd have escaped. I mean, really, setting up people's dads as authority figures that they would necessarily follow? Really?

The inquiring look in my direction prompted me. "Authority Bias," I growled, not really keen to play the buffoon's role thrust upon me but not knowing how to wriggle out. "What is said by an authority figure in your life - teacher, leader, guru, whoever - is not proof that it is true."

"Do you trust this new man who has joined this office?"

"No way! He is an MBA and you know how that last guy from IIM behaved. He will try to push himself up by undermining us."

I was silent and the Master of Ceremonies took over my role.

"AND our man will call it 'Straw Man' or 'False Equivalence' or 'Non Sequitur' or some such nonsense."

I could not make out the looks that were cast in my direction. They seemed a strange amalgam of anger and pity.

"This guy...he will not even accept the most common thing that we all do since childhood. I mean, when you failed in Maths and your father started looking for a cane, did you not scream, 'My brother also failed in three subjects...why did you not beat him?'"

"Of course!" The chorus was back in action again.

"What would you call that?"

"Whataboutery," I mumbled.

There was a horrified silence. Then on chap whispered, "What do you have against people thinking for themselves?"

I was stung. "Thinking for themselves. I WANT them to do it. Why do you think..."

"Then why are you opposing all the tools of thinking?"

"Tools of thinking? These are not tools of thinking, they are all logical fallacies - how not to think."

The MC laughed. "You don't get it, do you? That's because your basic assumption IS a fallacy."

"AND what would that be?" I shouted.

"You assume that logic exists!"

Monday, October 18, 2021

The Art of Pleasing (Bosses) - Disagreeing

There you go, again! You take one look at the title about disagreeing with bosses and you say, "I know! You are going to give a one word advice - 'Don't'." Really? You think I am going to fill up a whole blog post with 'Don't' like I were back at school and my teacher had given me imposition? (Huh! Do school-kids these days still have to write things like 'I will not be late to class' hundred times?)

Now, exactly why will 'Don't' not suffice? The problem is that there can be times when your boss' decisions can land the whole lot of you neck-deep in shit. AND, when that happens, your boss is going to scream, "Why did you not tell me before that this is likely to happen?" whenever he takes a break from gagging at the smell. Not to mention that if anyone is going to go under it will be you first.

If you think that it is unlikely to happen since your boss is supposed to be better than you in judging things, you are either too stupid to live OR you have not risen high enough in the organisation. In those rarefied heights, where YOU are the expert on law, say, and your CEO has come through engineering...well, there YOU are the one to advice about the law. AND CEOs, being CEOs, are prone to say things like, "Write to them quoting this clause and break the contract." You cannot just say, "Yes, Boss" when you know that you will get screwed in the arbitration. Not disagreeing is not an option...or, well, it IS, provided you are looking forward to a premature retirement.

So, how do you disagree pleasingly, if indeed THAT is not oxymoronic. Not by saying, "That's a stupid idea" that's for sure. If you do that...forget it. If you were the sort to do that, you'd have been filtered out in your very first job interview.

What about, "That will not work, Sir"? Hmm...you sort of assume that, since law IS your subject, the CEO would accept that you'd know more about the subject than him and will not take it amiss if you display that you know more than him. If such were indeed the case, do you really think that he would be laying down the law TO you rather than asking about the law FROM you?

So, what is your choice, then? Simple. Obviously YOU cannot show him up which would mean that you know more than him. So..."I'll talk to our lawyers and ask them to draft a proper legal notice," would be a good first step. And THEN, "Sir, our lawyers say that, in the event of arbitration, we are likely to lose." See what I mean? Now it is the EXTERNAL expert who knows more than your CEO and, after all, if they did not why would you keep them on retainer?

If you are REALLY good then, "Sir! Our lawyers were very impressed by your logic. Unfortunately, the law is an ass, it is not always logical. So, they say that..." THERE! You have stroked the man also, in addition to refusing him!

WHAT was that? Unnecessary payment of legal consultation fees for something that you knew yourself? Are you sure you belong in the corporate world?

Monday, October 11, 2021

The Art of Pleasing (Bosses)

There is a problem with blog titles. You know, the moment you see this "Art of Pleasing Bosses", there is a crowd which sneers at 'ass-licking' advice. Idiots, who do not seem to understand that the 'Art of Pleasing' - bosses or others - is the key to what one calls man-management. Call it 'How to become a great man-manager' and they come rushing in respectfully; call it 'Art of pleasing' and they look down their noses at it.

Then there are those who DO understand the importance of it but come in assuming that I am going to give them 6 steps to become the apple of your boss' eye or 10 things to avoid if you want to become that said apple (This listicle addiction, I tell you!) Mostly chaps who have never come to my blog or known me. For, if they did, they would know that I am utterly incapable of either.

I did avoid mentioning the full title - "The Art of Pleasing (Bosses) - Agreeing". If I had, it would have been the frigging opposite of that 'click-bait' thing I keep hearing about. "Ah! Of course you agree with your boss. Every Tom, Dick and Harry tells you that. Talk about reinventing the wheel, this chap will probably reinvent walking," would about be the reaction before you scroll down to the next meme on your Timeline.

Impressing the boss by agreeing with him is not as easy as it sounds. So, every Tom, Dick and Harry KNOWS it is important so, obviously, how the heck are YOU going to impress the guy when everyone around you is falling all over himself agreeing with him? You really think, "Of course, Sir! You are right." OR "Wow! You are a genius, Sir!" is going to cut the mustard? Not unless your boss is newly minted and unused to BEING a boss. Otherwise, it is like you expecting Rajnikanth to specifically notice you in a crowd of applauding fans.

And, so, if you think you can get noticed ONLY by disagreeing with him, you are right. About the being noticed part. Happy? So, what the hell was your point - to get noticed OR to please him? I mean, really, how do you expect to climb up corporate ladders if you get so easily distracted from your own goals - from pleasing the guy to getting noticed by displeasing him?

You need to find a way to AGREE with your boss in a noticeable way. The best way is to find a UNIQUE reason for agreeing with him OR for admiring him for what he said. You know, like "Wow! Your idea will even help sell add-on products, Sir!" OR "I have only learned how to apply the concepts properly from bosses, so far. For the first time, I am learning how to apply out-of-the-box thinking while applying concepts." and so on and so forth.

See what I mean? It is easy for someone to say, as one of his 6 Dos, to agree with your boss. To actually agree AND impress him favorably...THAT is the difficulty.

What was THAT? If you have to do so much thinking and work in order to please your boss, you may as well DO your work and please him that way? Ye Gods! However did you enter the corporate world when you still hold to the illusion that WORK alone can please bosses? You sure do not know the first thing about man-management!

Monday, October 4, 2021

The truth about certainty

I came across something interesting in a book I was reading recently. In the book there was, apparently, a priestly class which could detect whether a person was lying or telling the truth. Sort of infallible human lie-detectors. The story is, among others, about one of them who realizes that what they actually detect is certainty, not necessarily truth.

At first sight, there did not seem much difference between the two, really. I mean, after all, you ARE certain that what you believe is true, after all. So, exactly what was the difference? The chap in front of you is telling the truth as he knows it, is he not?

The problem, though, arises only when your motive is NOT to assess the truthfulness of the person in front of you BUT to discover the real truth. Assuming always, in these days of 'My truth' and 'Your truth', that there IS something called 'The Truth'. THEN, you have a problem. Yes, the chap in front of you is certain of 'His Truth', to the extent that he may not think he only 'believes' it is true or that it is the truth as 'he knows it' BUT that it is the ONLY truth. But...is it?

Though, I rather think that this is something that actually vexes no human being. We have always placed more of a premium on certainty than on truth. I mean, come on, if you are faced with two guys, one of whom is absolutely confident about what he is saying and the other is all 'On the one hand' and 'On the other hand', who do you find the better potential employee, say? Does it even cross your mind that the former could be certain because he is ignorant of the circumstances in which he could be wrong OR that the latter seems unsure because he can see situations where the 'truth' may be different? Of course not! Certainty always wins the day. (THAT is a whole different thing from being decisive, thank you very much! You CAN make decisions under uncertainty, it does not require you to be ignorant of the reasons for uncertainty!)

And, yet, Certainty, more often than not, accompanies ignorance than it does knowledge. After all, the more you know, the more reasons you find to question your previous beliefs. Just think...is it easier to be certain that a man is untrustworthy because he has side-whiskers (Really! THAT was a thing when I was at school!) or that a woman is 'available' because she wears 'revealing' clothing (whatever strikes you as so) OR not? AND knowing more men and women and seeing that clothing or facial fuzz has not much to do with their natures...does that breed certainty?

And, yet, we love leaders who have an aura of infallibility; of certainty. We prefer to adopt their opinions, follow the path they lay out for you...all because THEY seem sure that they are leading you into paradise and you want someone who seems confident that he can take you there.

And, so...the truth IS that Certainty is ALL the Truth that we want in the world!