Friday, January 8, 2010

Since strangling isn't an option...

The past week has been a mishmash of activities….K1 has been missing in action…you guessed right, travelling and K2 has been angelical in parts and tempestuous in others. K2 has started eating regular food vs. baby food – Cereal, Milk and Bananas for Breakfast, Roti with Curds and Vegetable Cutlets for Lunch and Rice and Dal and Vegetables for dinner…my baby is growing up.
Over the weekend, K1 and I had made a trip out to Borders and picked up a couple books to read over the next month. K1 had given me a sneaky smile and picked up this book titled “Since Strangling isn’t an option”…I have to admit that I was tempted to pick the very same book up 10 minutes before K1 but K1 was not the protagonist in mind…ahem! Lesser said the better. K1 picked up another interesting book – “The Starfish and the Spider – The Unstoppable power of Leaderless Organizations”. I fully intend to read that one too. I picked up two books (the board books that I picked up for K2 don’t count…). One was titled “Alone in the kitchen with an Eggplant”…you guessed it a Food Book which is a tribute not only to food but also to the art of preparing, respecting and savoring it. I also picked up “Good Kids, Bad Habits – The Real Age Guide to raising Healthy Children”. I don’t know what it is about a library or a book store – the smell of books is one of the most comforting smells for me which puts me in a warm and happy place everytime.
Every time I go to a restaurant, I order myself a perfect plate – Grilled Vegetables verdure– a brush of olive oil, fresh crushed pepper and sea salt with 2 squeezes of lemon and extra garlic. Yet everytime, I see K1’s plate of extra spicy Chicken Capellini, I am tempted to sneak a couple bites from it. The other person’s buy or plate is more enticing than your own. Predictably, the book I started my journey with was the fascinating book “Since Strangling isn’t an option”…I was ready for some one to start sermonizing from the word Go…yet what I got was this wonderful plethora of tips and suggestions which were surprisingly easy to comprehend and made sense to follow (almost a sense of why didn’t I think of this?). There was a chapter which likened human beings personality types to animals and I absolutely loved the chapter almost as much as I love the BCG Matrix for performance appraisals and portfolio management. I especially liked the concept of “Verbal Aikido”…defend yourself but don’t injure the attacker (very contrary to my current policy – hit where it hurts the most…I never said I played nice :) ). Verbal Aikido is the technique of redirecting a conversation with a difficult person in the direction you want it to go. Sample verbiage includes "Here are your options...” and "You make the choice."

What I liked about this book was it didn’t really stereotype a “difficult person”…the fact of the matter is – one man’s poison is another man’s wine…I might be in a situation where I want to strangle X but Y might think X is easy to get along with. My perspective of X is at a variance from how Y sees him. However, neither one of us is wrong nor right…I have a couple proactive steps I can take –

(A) Understand the root cause of why I think X is difficult
(B) Gauge whether X’s behavior towards me is the basis of his behavior in general
(C) See whether I can change X’s behavior using some of the techniques explained in the book
(D) Finally if all fails, try to disengage myself from the situation

The reality, at least for me is that there is no silver bullet for all of Life’s issues and there is no secret recipe to being someone everyone would adore and love or get along with. What is critical is that “I try to make it work and get to the root cause of conflict and fix it…if that doesn’t work; I move on…Life is too short

So what's on your reading list for January?


  1. went thru ur musings....liked them...aah! the smell of books - nothing beats this!! I still check into a Crossword just to smell a few! akin maybe to that indescribable fragrance that emanates when the first rain drops carve out those minitaure craters on a warm, dusty, earthy surface...keep writing!! Siju

  2. If the idea of "verbal Aikido" catches your attention, you should read Judy Ringer's book on managing life's difficult situations, "Unlikely Teachers:
    Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict." Written using wonderful stories from the author's life, suggestions for practice, and sprinkled with quotes from experts, "Unlikely Teachers" is a terrific book for those seeking to discover the magic within every conflict situation. Ringer is an Aikido black belt and knows what she's writing about.

  3. @Siju you hit the nail on the head - 2 of my favorite memories - the freshly washed earthy smell after the rains and BOOKS. Incidentally Crossword used to be one of my favorite bookstores along with HigginBothams when I lived in Chennai...small world :)

  4. @Cindy - Judy Ringer sounds very interesting. I have added her book to my book list.Thanks for the suggestion.