Monday, October 10, 2016

Impressing people

I know you must think that I am a glutton for punishment because I keep going to friends for advice when it has never really worked well for me but what would you do? I mean, you have a problem, you do not have a solution and googling for it gives you so many contradictory options that you need someone to sort it all out for you. End of the day, you HAVE to go to someone for help.

"Ah! So, you want to be more impressive to others? I can see why. It must be tiring to be putting up your hands and pleading for people to listen. And being interrupted after the third word, even if you get a chance to speak. Though it is great practice for being a guest on Arnab's show."

I mumbled assent. Yes, this portrayal of me as a timid schoolboy putting up his hand for his teacher's attention was not really pleasing but what can one do? It is but natural for people to sit on their high horse and look down on you when you ask for advice. After all, THEY get very few chances of putting themselves on a pedestal.

"It would have been a help if you had some charm and charisma. Then, you would not need to learn anything. You would just have to be yourself and people would flock to you. But..." His look said that if, indeed, I had charm and charisma, it was of the sort that made people's eyes slide over me as though I did not exist.

Yeah! Yeah! THAT was news to me, this idea that I did not have charm. Of course, I had, otherwise, been thinking that I was like this Ranbir Kapoor chappie, oozing charisma and all, till this dude opened my eyes to reality. AND, naturally, this blindness to my own lack of charisma is why I needed to come to this guy for advice about how to impress people.

THAT's one of the most annoying things about people. If there is something positive to say about you, they assume that you know it anyway and there is no need to say it. If there is something negative, they WILL say it ten times a day and twice on Sundays, even though it is pretty obvious that you would know it. ("You are going bald. Your hairline is receding", when I still had some hair, over and over again, for example. Yes! Like I had specially ordered mirrors that lied to me about my face and scalp and, so, I needed them to tell me about it.)

"You know, you really do not know what is the right way to act to impress people."

Yes, of course, I did not know that. I needed to hear that from him, which is why I was here.

"It is a wonder how you always manage to do exactly the wrong thing."

Hmm! Listen to my friends and you will believe you know exactly how to succeed in life - watch what I am doing and do the exact opposite!

"Take the way you react to someone telling a joke."

"Yes? I show him that I too have a sense of humor. By capping his punchline with one which is more funny."

"Exactly! Who do YOU think has a good sense of humor? The guy who knows to laugh at your punchline or the guy who keeps talking after that?"

"Obvious! If you do not get my punchline and laugh at it, then of course you do not have a sense of humor."

"Precisely!" and the idiot gives me a look as though he has made an important point. I don't get that at all. Is this the Zen of something or the other that only the saints can get?

"And then take the way you react at work. You point out every single flaw in someone else's work."

THAT was rich! Considering that he had been doing nothing but pick on my warts since I came to him, HIS saying that was like that some vessel calling the some other vessel black. Pot and Kettle, was it? Maybe, I am not up to date with all these housekeeping matters.

"THAT proves I am intelligent, does it not? That I have been able to locate those flaws?"

"Yes? Tell me, when you put up that report and Vivek pointed out..."

"Vivek! THAT fool. He could not see the ingenuity with which I found a way to solve that problem. Just because he keeps harping on a minor error in methodology on one of the..."

"Precisely", says he, with that stupid knowing smirk on his face. Ye Gods! Do all these guys take training with that Confusers or something (Confucius, was it? Well, you know, I have been boycotting Chinese these days), or maybe the same Zen thingy, to speak in parables? I prefer someone who calls a spade a spade. Not someone who tells me a story about a grave digger and expects me to deduce from the clues that he is talking about a spade.

"So, what are you saying? That I should go around praising people always?"

"Well! If you can do no better than you are doing now, yes! IF you want to impress people. The best way to impress is to praise with discernment - of what would have been difficult to do for them AND which they have managed to do. It is easier to be impressive to people when you praise them for what THEY think deserves praise. THEN, when you find fault, they are likely to take it more seriously."

I come to this chap to make myself more impressive to people. AND he gives me advice on how to BE impressed by people!

"But..that...THAT is SO difficult to do. I mean, I have to KNOW their area of work, figure out what is difficult and what is easy in it..."

"I said I would give you a solution. I said nothing about making it easy."

There you go. NOW you know why I think all advice is useless!


  1. It is a very tough rope-walk--to impress,praise,others and still remain true and sincere.Certainly popularity comes from admiring others--right,left and all around;).
    I see it every day in social life.A person who is treacherous and scheming in real life has this habit of praising every aspect of everyone's life or personality without fail,and very few see through it.They all gather around that person.

    So,this is the way to impress people.Like it?

  2. Indeed - there is a logic to it also. If people dismiss a person who has been praising then all the validation from the person's appreciation is lost. If the person never criticizes the person's discernment is called into question and the value of his/her appreciation is lost. So I guess something like 80% appreciation and 20% criticism is right formula to hit the popularity charts.

    1. Yeah - the problem is that you could praise the wrong things unless you know what you are praising :)

  3. You have such an interesting blog. Thanks for sharing. I'm a life coach blogger. Reading blogs is my hobby and I randomly found your blog. I enjoyed reading your posts. All the best for your future blogging endeavors. Please keep in touch with me in Google+, +sridharchandrasekaran

    1. Thanks Sridhar! Google knows why it classified this comment under 'Spam' :)

  4. I am not sure about formulaic percentages for Praise and Criticism, but I have come to learn that a smile will take you much farther than a scowl. However, you need to be true to yourself--unmerited praise WILL sound like flattery and might sometimes prove to be counterproductive. So would be the case with criticism too--carping never did help anybody. Beautiful post, Suresh, you have so humorously helped understand the facts of life...

    1. I don't know about percentages either. What I do know is that if someone has done some particular thing well and another person specifically praises that, the second person is likely to be seen as a lot more intelligent than another who finds an error to correct :)

  5. Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.

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  6. It is easier to be impressive to people when you praise them for what THEY think deserves praise. -this I think is now easy to guess from people's Fb posts :) short of saying "PRAISE ME", everybody's doing everything they can !

    1. Ah! If only it were THAT easy :) I mean, tell me which seems more discerning, "You look beautiful today" OR "This new hairstyle suits you. You look lovely"? IF the latter, which husband has ever managed that? Discerning praise is not always easy :)

  7. A little bit of flattery will get you everywhere, eh? Very difficult to follow through, if the beneficiary seems neither deserving nor reciprocating in turn! Bulls eye sir on once again conveying an important lesson so humorously!

    1. I intended a shade more than that :) Discerning praise would be a bit more than flattery. Flattery will end up classifying you a fan; to be respected for your acumen, you will need to get into the skin of the achievement and praise that which would have been difficult to achieve. (The difference between saying 'Lovely Painting' and 'How did you manage to impart that sense of movement to the waves?", say )