Is it that I try too hard?
by Kunal S
I am an average employee with big ambitions from my career. Like so many others and to the dislike of many I am a part of the Outsourcing bandwagon and work out of India. My domain is of risk management. All through my life inter-personal skills have been a weakness.
Most of my school days I spent by myself, with very few people to call 'friends' and many thoughts about life and philosophy, hanging around the school building during recess, being bullied around by peers at school. I think, this lack of inter-personal interactions, historically with my peers has dented my capabilities massively. Now my career demands me to interact with people from across the globe almost on a day to day basis. Often I get the same thought I used to get when I was in school, 'they don't understand me'. So today, at times I see myself doing the impossible of task of looking for "rules of interaction" to gain professional success, when I know there is no such 'one rule'. I know I would be the happiest if someone could tell me that for everyone you meet "do this" and "don't do this". Every time at work I do something or say something that I later realize I should not have, I make these frantic searches on the net to look for some solutions. That's how I came across your website today.
Sometimes the lack of inter-personal skill makes me doubt if I am doing the right job (similar to how I used to feel back in the school days, 'they don't understand me'). I am pretty positive the answer is not in 'they don't understand me' but in 'I don't understand them'. Because I also realize that every job I do will need me to have some level of inter-personal skills. People accumulate knowledge of such skills over years of interaction. For me to compete with them these skills are needed are needed no later than yesterday. Is this an impossible task?
I have been in this line of business for past 5 years. In my last job the business model was different and my daily interactions were with someone who sat next to me, not to mean that I was able to handle that interaction very well or make it work for me.
In my latest job I am faced with two kinds of people- on a daily interaction basis - so I think. One who is 2 levels up and one who is my immediate boss. Boss may not be the right word, as the company wants us to think of them as a team, and wants us to feel that we are an equal part of it. The feeling in my opinion is not something one can take casually. We work in different time zones but we are doing the same thing at a higher level. So this means an extra pressure and an extra effort on my part to cope with the environment. It is this environment and it is the opportunities that such a work environment brings which I want to tap on for my benefit. I go beyond the call of duty in terms of the efforts I put in to make sure that the quality and standard of my work is top-notch. But nonetheless my interactions with people sitting on the other side of the globe is definitely going to play an important role in my success, and I don't want this to be the hurdle stone to my professional success.
The person I directly work with comes across as a very happy go lucky guy, who enjoys his work and his life. Being a little orthodox and a believer of the old school hindu philosophy of the guru-shishya (master-pupil) set up I look up to him for all my knowledge (to my sadness, what I gather is that modern day corporate is not the ideal platform to apply this philosophy, is this true?). Coming back to my counterpart. He is an Indian like me, who got his higher education in the US. On most of the days talking to him gives me a feel good factor. On some days however (mostly Mondays I feel) he seems a little different. This maybe what people call "monday blues" but that is not my problem. The problem is how do I deal with this? On such days I get the feeling that I might have done something wrong (this is a primary concern as I am new to the organization and in that phase where building a good rapport is extremely important). I think I am an emotional guy. I like to have a nonchalant attitude at work but at the same time like to know that the people around me are happy with me and my work. My guess would be that I look too much for other people's approval, and find solace in that knowledge. Is this a good thing? Or am I actually taking too much on myself.
I can keep giving account of events as they have happened in the past, but right now I don't know how to end this 'story' that I started writing almost an hour back. There are so many questions that keep coming to my mind and then there are questions questioning these questions that bother me. I am willing to work on whatever is wrong with me, but I need to know where to start from. At the end of it all I want to have a healthy career growth, staying away from being associated with negative comments and remarks and earning many accolades as a good co-worker.