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Soft skills

Dealing with the underminers

It’s not very uncommon to find people who undermine you for everything you do. If you don’t, you’re lucky (or unlucky, if it’s the right kind of people). However, it does take an emotional toll at times and it’s often better to deal with it before it gets to your nerves. But before you deal with it and before you lose your nerves, you should make sure that the person is actually socially undermining you. You know, the last thing you’d want is to embarrass yourself AND stop getting some good insights for improvements.

There’s ways to know for sure. A few of them…

1. See if they do it to others too.

2. You feel defensive around them as if you need to prove yourself.

3. They’re great at back handed comments, comments that are oddly insulting.

4. They seem to oversell themselves as caring and nurturing.

5. They tempt you and steer you from your goals with tempting options.

If you think you have someone that socially undermines you, you should likely deal with them, sooner rather than later. Now it depends on the type of person you are dealing with. Solutions can range from letting the person out of your life smoothly, to confronting them and either explaining your motives and decisions or understanding their point of view. You can read all about it over at lifehacker. They explain how to know if a person is undermining you and how to deal with the different kinds of social underminers.

-Akshar Rawal


Missed a deadline? Not quite uncommon.

We all miss deadlines once in a while. But have you ever wondered why we keep doing it? And how we can stop?

First, guess who’s to blame. No it’s not your teammates. It’s your brain. Our brain creates an unconscious bias that lures us into that trap. Its commonly known as the “planning fallacy”. It is the tendency of our brains to under-estimate the task at hand and either over-promise or under-perform, usually more over-promise. Our brains tricks us into blaming others for not meeting deadlines rather than our ineffectiveness of planning. The primary cause for the “planning fallacy” is the fact that our brains try to plan out the best-case scenario, not accounting for the hiccups. But hiccups do happen, almost always, and we end up exceeding our deadlines.

So then we would think that why do we need deadlines at all? Well, as it turns out, our brain also needs that spear in its back that forces it to get any work done. Without any deadlines, we might not get any work done at all. (Our brain’s weird, n’it?). Also, work expands to fill up the time it is given, also our brain’s doing.

So how can we work towards meeting these “required” deadlines (and make ourselves feel better)? Here are some pointers:

  • Front-load your week: Finish harder, more time-consuming and important work before taking on trivial tasks.
  • Retain a buffer in the deadline: Leave some lee-way for the hiccups.
  • Publicize your deadlines: Making deadlines public make you more accountable (your brain working again).
  • You can always use some digital help with reminders.

You can check out the complete post on lifehacker for a detailed analysis.

-Akshar Rawal

Code for the charismatic and charisma for the coders

Charisma is an important part of making a first impression. And nothing beats it down more than interrupting someone while they are talking. Often the interruption is unintentional. You would think that the person is done talking while they may just be taking a break in their sentence. Well you can use the two-second rule when making conversation. Wait two seconds before talking, after the other person has stopped. Not only does this prevent unintended interruptions, but it also creates a suspense, increasing the other person’s interest in the conversation (kinda like how stand up comedians take a pause after giving the punch). Furthermore, this also shows that you are listening intently and shows genuine interest in what the other person has to say. This helps you to be perceived as a “good-listener”. And who doesn’t want to be a good listener, right? Of course, there’s a number of other factors to consider when making a first impressions, but every drop helps. Check out the complete article here on lifehacker.

All us coders need to stand together and help each other be more “social”. “They” just don’t get it, what it is like to be a coder, what it means to be a coder, do they? Bloomberg has published this interactive article about “What is code” with Paul Ford. You can check it out @ Paul Ford: What is Code? | Bloomberg.

You can also checkout this video that explains how code works. This’ll show ’em! Now you’ll know where to point “them” to give them an idea about what “we” do.

– “Not everything works with just nuts and bolts”.

-Akshar Rawal

Cheer ’em up!

Ever find colleagues or friends in distress? What did you do to make them feel better? How did you do on your quest?

If you have, I’m pretty sure you are not the only one. When dealing with a situation like this, it is all about reflecting the pain, dividing it to make them feel it less. It’s about being a friend, a true friend, even if it is with a colleague. There’s a lot of advice out there for dealing with such situations. But a few pointers that I feel help the most are summarized below.

1. Show that you’re approachable. Make them feel that you you understand, and understand! Show your support.

2. Do not propose general advice and help (like “Let me know if you need anything”). Rather offer specific help pertaining to the situation, if possible. And do not offer unsolicited advice. The last thing they want is a blow on their ego and unsolicited advice has that effect. If you cannot directly help, refer them to someone who can.

3. A version of unsolicited advice is asking the person to cheer up. That almost never helps. Rather help them face the problem head on and get over it. It’s more often than not to be sad and get it over with rather than stuffing it aside and happily continuing. It is important to get closure.

4. Respect their privacy and recognize it in conversation. Do not go overboard with feelings.

5. Do not be judgmental. It usually helps to think about similar situations you’ve been in or others you know have been in. It generalizes the situation in your head and helps you to not be judgmental.

6. Distress is often from conflicting mindset/feelings/choices. Help them recognize this and help them choose wisely.

These are some things that I have picked up along the way. If you have any to share, please mention them in the comments below.

-Akshar Rawal

Ingress: The game of extroverted introverts

If you haven’t heard of this game/tour guide already,  check it out, like right now.

Given that they only have a video there, you can look it up on wikipedia. Ingress is the google’s virtual reality/augmented reality view of the world. I wouldn’t want to spoil too much of the fun.

Check out this post of how it has helped people expand their “introvert bubbles”. I mean, isn’t that the idea of being an extrovert, to include new people in your network bubble?

And who knows, it could prove to be an excellent team-building exercise. We’ve had missions, while at college, among friends. We would go around town, sharing portals, while excelling our faction.

-Akshar Rawal

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