Don’t Alienate. Value Relationships

The writer speaks on common mistakes that one makes in business and in life and the importance of humility

At the outset, I wish to clarify that not all experiences narrated by me below are mine. In fact, I have observed these over 61 years of my age. I hope that these make some of our youngsters, wiser, since one cannot turn the clock back and redo things. However, one can learn today and act appropriately tomorrow.

Many decades back, in western India, a young man was given the work of up keep of a hostel, including sweeping. Certain intellectuals frequented the hostel. Imagine for a minute that one of the intellectuals had ill-treated the young man. The intellectual would rue it for a lifetime. For, the young man later became Chief Minister and ended up being Prime Minister.

The point I am making is, never underestimate anyone, since, later you may have to seek his help. My biggest learning in life has been that never ill-treat anyone since one never knows, who will be of what help to you later on.

Keep everyone you come across in business or in life, in good humour with positivity and humility. Never insult. I came across an excellent piece: “When you meet someone after say 25 years, you will not remember what he had done to you or what he had said to you; but you will never forget how he made you feel”.

My daughter had attended coaching classes in Pune. Therefore, I asked my schoolmate, a doctor in Pune for help. After a decade, the doctor’s young daughter Nita got a job in New Orleans, USA. Upon learning this, I realised that my cousin stays in New Orleans for 50 years and I arranged for her help for Nita.

Now, let us have a look at the various ‘dimensions’ of the above learning.

If a person who is hurt by you, avenges his grouse by confronting you, I am sure you can defend. But if he damages you from where you cannot see him, you will not even know who did it, but you’ll end up damaged. So, why hurt anyone? Can we just ignore anyone who is unfair to you?

I know of people who were arrogant and insulted many. They had to pay a heavy price at the time of their children’s marriage, since the ‘insulted people’ gave bad information to a few matrimonial proposals.

Sometimes we take on the enemy of our friend, in order to help the friend. But, later the friend and his enemy sort out their differences. Nevertheless, your enmity with the said ‘enemy’ remains. The lesson is, do not alienate, whether he is your adversary or that of any one close to you. In politics, there are no permanent enemies. So also in personal life. Circumstances and relationships change. Only ‘change’ is ‘permanent’. So, do not ‘buy’ enemies. The price could be crushing.

The above learning applies to all walks of life – relatives, friends, neighbours, customers, staff, colleagues, etc. As a parent, if you do not treat your child aptly, you may face identical treatment 25 years later. However, it will be too late to go rewind the clock.

Today when we have the power, influence, money, good profitability/sales, we tend to treat people with more ego than empathy. Ego does the damage. I know of a supplier of perishable goods who refused to sell to a customer since the customer was arrogant and unfair. I also know of a customer, by ganging up with other customers dumping a supplier, the issue being ‘harassment’. Customer is king and he can spread a good word or a bad word about you in the market.

In dealing with government authorities, if a businessperson ill-treats a junior officer, after 25 years, the businessperson may have to face him as a departmental chief. I know of a person who was a temporary accounts clerk in a Goa Government Corporation in the year 2004, who has now become the Managing Director of the same corporation.

A person was rejected for a job by a US based company. Later he founded ‘WhatsApp’ and the said company had to buy it for over Rs. One hundred thousand crores (`1,00,000 crores).

Whereas a customer or staff who leaves, can return to you later, if he has a great impression of yours.

I have done work of so many people only because they were ‘nice people’. So also, you must have done the same. But are we also ‘nice’ to others? This is worth introspecting upon, every day.

From stones thrown at you, a bridge can be built by you OR a wall can be built. Choose to build a bridge. Build networks, which can magically deliver for you.

To conclude, I will narrate a true story, which took place in Panaji. Many years back, I attended the funeral of friend’s mother. This friend and his brother were fifty plus in age and the mother was 80 plus. To my utter surprise, these two brothers were bitterly crying at the funeral.

Later, I asked my friend why they were bitterly crying at the passing away of an aged mother. He replied as follows, “You do not know how good my mother was. She used to tell us that, even if anyone hurts you, in turn you do good to him. And if that person again hurts you, again you do good to him”.

Friends, you may not take this lesson literally, but I am sure you will take the message.

The columnist is a senior chartered accountant. He is the chairman of Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, Goa; and Director of EDC, Goa. Email:

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