“You shouldn’t listen to airmen’s problems” roared my commander. I was astonished. Why shouldn’t I? As a human being is it not my duty to listen to the problems of other humans? “Not at all,” he said, explaining this further he lamented, “I had once made a terrible mistake of listening to
the problem of Corporal G K Pandey ( Name changed ). The complain listening went on for 3 hours. At the end of this he asked for heavy concessions which I had to concede. Thereafter it became a ritual. Cpl Pandey used to find the Commander at unusual places and asked for more and more favours’ and used to add, “Aapko meri problem to maloom hee hai (You are already aware of my problem , don’t you ? ) “. Thus started an era of exploiting a commander repeatedly for having heard his problem. This incident was like a big paradox to my young mind and I was not sure, I would experience the ill effect of listening to somebody’s problem like this.
12 years passed, I had forgotten totally about Corporal G K Pandey . Today came a colleague to my desk. She appeared troubled. I was busy and she was talking about how we solve the problem of lunch for an employee who had just joined. She informed me that the person who was handling lunch was on leave. The new admin guy who had joined had not been briefed about lunch. Also, the new joinee doesn’t know who she should talk about her lunch. On suggesting that she can share it with any body she said it was not possible. No matter what solution I thought of or proposed, they were shot down like lame ducks in front of carbine fire. This lunch problem, she had come up was really a very complex one. No conceivable solution was going to work. I have with years at work become less interested in solving other people’s problems and stuck to “Things without remedy should be the ones without concern”. Seeing lack of enthusiasm on my part about this problem, she went away to mull more this problem. I got back to the work I was on and didn’t care whether the problem still existed or whether she could find a solution. Hours passed and suddenly she came back to me. She had an interesting update – “She has brought her own lunch “. The devil in me was rolling on the floor laughing. The words of my commander were resonating in my head. The times have moved ahead.
Has the behavioural paradigm shifted? Is there a tectonic shift in wisdom from “Do not listen to others’ problems” to “Do not try to solve somebody else’s problem “. Are we moving from Icelandic Paropkaris ( philanthropes ) to Ashravankaris ( Non empathisers) to Asahishnus ( Disinterested egoists ) ?
What are your experiences of proactively solving somebody’s problems? Did they really make sense?
Entrepreneur and Bad boy of Indian startups