Ask the right question , to the right person, at the right time and Pathology Case of the Day


My mother’s 4th death anniversary is approaching. She passed away during the festive season. Festivals have never been same since she left us. She was not only bubbly and gorgeous, she always asked the right question at the right time. She extracted the crucial answers  from me, without trying very hard. She always emphasized asking the right question is a powerful skill.

Recently, a very dear friend confided that she was having serious problem with a colleague. Tension at work place is not uncommon but it should not be destructive.  I started asking few simple questions.

    • How long is the conflict going on?
    • What is the root cause of the problem? Is it possible not to take things personally or be judgemental?
    • When was the last time you communicated with this person?
    • Did you clarify your views politely or were you rude and arrogant?
    • How did this person react to what you tried to explain?
    • Do you really know the person as well as you think?
    • Is there something left unsaid?
    • Is there something about you that is causing misunderstanding ?
    • Is the quality of your work getting affected by the behaviour of your colleague?
    • Are you under stress and taken leave from work due to tension?
    • Does the idea of meeting the person everyday at work makes you happy or uncomfortable?
    • Do others in the department have any problem with your colleague or are you the only target?
    • Were you good friends at one point and now drifted apart ?
    • How was your past experience with this person before conflict started ? Has it gradually changed over the years due to specific reason?
    • Is your colleague popular in the workplace ?
    • What kind of friends are close to this person?
    • Do you find the person narcissistic or charismatic?
    • Do you get negative or positive vibes from the person?
    • Do you think the person is capable of handling multiple, major crisis?
    • Does this person have a good sense of humour?
    • Has this person shown positive traits like leadership qualities and creativity ?
    • Do you know anything about this person’s hobby? Hobbies say a lot about human character.
    • Does this person enjoy travelling and to associate with people  from different  race, community, culture and country.
    • Have you noticed whether this person uses more positive or negative words during conversation ? Negative words are hate, liar, jealous, failure, toxic, troll, ugly, cripple, retard. Positive words are charming, successful, brilliant, awesome, gorgeous, dynamic, joy, laughter, fun, beautiful.
    •  Does the person like to gossip and talk too much?
    •  Is this person always cynical and makes sarcastic remarks about those who do not agree with him/her.
    •  Is the person money minded and can go to any extent to reach the goal.
    • There is a difference between constructive and destructive criticism. What kind of a critic is this person ?
    • Are you afraid of this person? Fear is a very powerful emotion. Sometimes fear is triggered by something that is startling or unexpected. Have you spoken about the problem to a third person who is a mutual friend.
    • Do you realize it is alright to be vulnerable and imperfect ?   Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring”. Marilyn Monroe.

Finally, I told my friend to write down the answers in a personal note book and think about them.  Never blame, express anger or verbally attack the person. Long term conflict cannot be resolved easily.

If you feel things are getting out of control, speak to your senior and try to get a transfer to another branch of the office. Life is too short to tolerate abusive, intolerant, draining relationships.

Interesting case for the pathologists. A gift for reading my post.

Pathology Case of the Day:

Lesion of the External Auditory Meatus of the Ear.





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