Friday, May 24, 2013

The one where I am talking about work on a Friday evening..

Lame as it sounds, my two & half readers, I have been going through a severe reader-cum-writer's block since the past one month and this post, truth be told, is a sincere attempt to overcome the syndrome. There are these unfinished drafts that remain ignored on my laptop, not to mention the other bazillion ones in my head. And to top it all, work has been hectic and the past few weeks were dedicated to learning some important lessons in “CYOA” (For the uninitiated, please Google.)

Now that we are on the topic of work, I realize very rarely do I ever discuss anything remotely related to work on this space. Allow me to change that please. (Yes, shoot me, I AM going to give you some office-gyan on a Friday evening!)

Not sure how many of you have your office counterparts seated in the various parts of the country (maybe a majority in the Western Hemisphere?) and if you do, I am figuring that most of the important discussions and decisions happen over what we proudly refer to as a “con-call”.  (Yeah, we are cool like that!)

SO. Here are some nuggets which you may want to keep in mind if you are beginner to this popular practice.

Do :

Remember Terminology is Key: Maybe your college professor didn’t stress enough on Business Across Cultures, if he/she didn’t, then I am telling you that was a big mistake. If you work with cross cultural teams, it really helps to do your homework before you engage in a discussion with them. Please familiarize yourself with their commonly used terminologies.
I once asked an American what his designation was and there was silence from the other end. Thankfully one of them understood what I was referring to “Hey, she means Title...They call it  desig..designa..whatever!” OK, point noted.

Answer to the Point: While talking about an event, try and stick to the premise and the context. If you are going to talk about your discussion with your vendor from another event who recommended you speak to this person in a media company who knows the organizers of the current event…. NOBODY cares. Amongst discussions between Indian peers, they may humor you, but the American who woke up at 6 am to get onto a call, I doubt he/she will. Please leave the plot to unravel itself in an e-mail.

Talk Softly: The last time I was trying to make a point on a call (I thought I was sounding all cool & captain-like. Heh), The polite French lady actually pinged me on IM and said, “I think you are too close to the mouth piece”. Read “YOU ARE TOO LOUD WOMAN” *story of my life* Sob.

Pay attention to the Pronunciation (especially names!): Maybe you need to watch more of HBO/BBC if you are really poor at this one. (I am not kidding, it really helps) All of us initially would have found it difficult to keep pace with the tone and accent. You will be surprised to know that it happens everywhere. During a con-call a very senior American gentleman kept calling me “Paiiyya” and I didn’t know whether it would be rude to interrupt and correct him. So I let it be for the first time and the second time while I was talking to him, I corrected it “on a lighter note”. He was careful from then on. :I

Capture the MoM (Don’t tell me you had to Google this one too?!): This one is no-brainer. Whoever sets up the call sends a summary and action items of the meeting unless otherwise told not to. Try and send it as soon as you finish or within the next 12 hours or the action-items would be “conveniently – forgotten.” And you will be busy scratching your head trying to recollect whose responsibility it actually was and then a large-hearted soul will turn around with a sweet smile and throw it back at you “ Weren’t YOU supposed to do it??”

Use Mute if you are at home: You definitely don’t want your maid to storm in say “DiDiiiiiiiiiiiiii” and astonish the people on the other end of the phone line. And if you are in Mumbai taking a con-call during Ganesh Chaturthi or Diwali, then being a ‘mute’ listener is your only hope.


Joke about work: This one too is a no-brainer I agree, but there are these moments when I put my foot in my mouth. I remember one instance where we as a team were re-grouping to discuss a PowerPoint presentation and coincidently the date on the current day and the date on which the last version was discussed were exactly a year apart. So being a smart cookie and all, I quipped “ Hey we are regrouping on the same date, what a coincidence huh? Only different years, hehe!” Guess who found it funny. Apparently, only me!! One year is obviously not the best benchmark and what was I thinking joking about it?

Use regional language: If you are a Mumbaikar or maybe a Chennaivasi (does that word even exist?) or any other region for that matter, there are slangs like “Arre”, “Wah”, “Machan” and the like that is bound to come into your conversations now and then. But try and not use these words when you are on a call where the majority are foreigners. You will only confuse them. This happened not so long back L While answering a question, I used the words “Thik Hai” somewhere and that sent the folks on the other end on a different trip altogether. Some of them went “Waaaaat??” ; “Piya.. I am sorry, what did you mean?” Ah, you know the drill.

Keep saying your name: Once you have introduced yourself and exchanged pleasantries, you do not need to keep saying your name while you are making a point. Agreed the other person cannot see you, but hey they have recognized/registered your voice. If they have not, then you could mention it a second time. But starting every point with. “Hi, Abc here, I would like to…” ; Hi Abc here again, I want to add…” can get irksome after a point. Unless it is a really large group and you think there are two of you who sound exactly the same (!!), please do not mention your name more than twice, unless of course asked.

Okk....I just realized I have made this sufficiently self-deprecatory. :I (Some of us had to learn the hard way!)

That’s all for now Peeps.  

Yay for the weekend!