Eyes of the Beholders

Jul 10, 2020

During Lockdown, I reverted to my old and pleasurable habit of travelling, albeit virtually. I particularly loved the trips to the forests, National parks, and wildlife sanctuaries. Just like everyone else, I too am fascinated by the Wildebeest migration and the accompanying drama.

In the first episode I watched, the protagonists were a mother and a calf. They had names assigned to them and hence I felt even closer. The pair got separated more than once. In one instance the calf landed on a rock where there were crocodiles lying in wait. Fortunately, they zeroed in on another adult. In another instance, the calf had succeeded in its encounter with the Mara river crossing but was separated. A leopard was on the prowl and it was an awfully close encounter. I rooted for the calf with all my heart and prayed. The calf again miraculously escaped and was also reunited with its mother to live another day.

Shift to a few days later and the protagonist was a solitary leopard (as Leopards are wont) with baby cubs. The leopard had made two futile attempts to hunt gazelles and small antelope. It was tired and her cubs were hungry and exposed. It spotted a wildebeest calf and made a dash. Almost unconsciously, I rooted for the leopard so it could feed its family and keep it safe.

Looking at me being all pleased, my husband reminded me about the side I had taken just about a week ago. Of course, I had heard of perspectives, but this vivid and contrasting experience put that into place very deeply.

Eye of the beholder was most famously known because of an episode with that Title of the iconic American Television Series called “The Twilight Zone”. The episode was telecast in1962

Cut to our present-day scenario. One person has infected 2 others since he went out. He is vilified, his hand is stamped, and his family is ostracised. Society with outsiders like me feels that this is irresponsible. Let us shift focus to the family itself. They were in a dilemma as they ran out of medicines. He went out to 4 pharmacies before he could find the supplies of gloves, facemasks he needed for the nursing care of his elderly grandmother. He had to go to multiple shops because the prices quoted were exorbitant and he tried to find the most reasonable of the lot. His salary had been cut by 30% because of the Pandemic.

If you knew this back story, or if you were a family member of this person or had experienced this situation yourself, what would be your reaction after the backstory is known?

From a working professional’s viewpoint, it is especially important to understand a person in the context of all the other stakeholders involved. Let us take the stories emerging from riots related to sporting events. Often, Sports Fans supporting the losing team riot to vent their frustration. I read about some surprising statistics on this aspect. After the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots 41-33 in the Super Bowl in 2018, Philly fans rioted. When the Red Sox and took home the World Series in 2004 after more than 8 decades, there were riots. Three years later, more rioting ensued when the team won again.

Not understanding perspectives give rise to conflicts. These can be resolved, but violence itself has never been an answer.

The first step is to recognize your own perspective and acknowledge it. Then think of it as one piece of a big puzzle. You will find the other pieces only if you make a move and look from another angle.

The second step is a skill that often feels like a Universal Panacea – Deep Listening.

The third step is to seek out other perspectives. If I am a vegetarian by upbringing, can I look at other perspectives as well? If a Scorpion is considered a yummy ingredient in Cambodia, can I delve deeper? Can I like Lord Kartikeya in Indian mythology get 6 pairs of eyes, at least in my mind?  What a great panoramic view it will be.

Gayatri Krishnamurthy
Gayatri Krishnamurthy

Gayatri Krishnamurthy

Gayatri has over 30 years’ experience in Human Resources and organisation consulting. Her last corporate role was that of a profit centre head for the Bangalore centre of Mafoi management Consultants (Now known as Randstad). She set up the centre and turned it profitable in a short span of 3 months. Prior to that, she worked with CMC Limited for 5 years as a core member of their Learning and Development team and with John Brown Engineering India as a senior member of their Personnel team. Gayatri is a qualified and accredited as Professional Certified Coach (PCC) by International Coach Federation (ICF). Apart from her decades long coaching practice, she has authored white papers on Coaching and supervised coaches. The level of executives coached have ranged from CEOs, profit centre heads, senior managers including several women leaders and management fresh graduates. She is certified as Senior Practitioner (SP) European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC). She has mentored coaches and conducted sessions on coaching skills to aspiring coaches and practising managers.

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