Vivek Mehrotra
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Real Life stories on Communication (I)

Alex was working as Head of Training with a leading Pharmaceutical company. He was conducting a Management Development Program along with a consultant at Hotel Clarks Awadh, Lucknow, when this incident took place. His company had transferred a senior Medical Representative of Lucknow to Ahmedabad. This transfer was done as a punishment because of his poor performance coupled with indiscipline. However, the Association of Medical Representatives was not in agreement with the management decision. They had made several attempts to get his services reinstated but all their attempts went in vain. The moment they came to know about the training program being conducted at Lucknow, planned to stage a ‘dharna’ as a mark of their protest.

It was the second day of program; suddenly a crowd of 70 to 80 MRs entered into the hotel premises. They were shouting anti-company slogans. Few senior leaders have barged in the conference hall and very rudely asked Alex to abandon the program. Alex realized the gravity of the situation. He very quietly handed over the session to the fellow consultant and approached the invading union leaders. He very politely requested them to come out and discuss the matter with him. Union leaders were still not convinced, they were demanding to call off the program. Alex insisted that he will do so provided he is told about the actual problem; seeing his approach Union leaders conceded to his request of discussing the matter with him. Alex asked them to decide two representatives to discuss the matter with him. Two senior leaders came forward. He called both of them to his room in the same hotel.

Alex ordered tea for everyone and took out his diary and pen. He requested one of them to tell him the entire case. Though, he was fully aware of the problem but he was posing as he is absolutely unaware about it. While one of them was telling him about the case, Alex started taking notes in his diary. In between he was asking questions to pose as if he is clarifying his doubts. It took almost 15 to 20 minutes for union leaders to explain the case to Alex. Since, Alex was very patiently listening to them, it made both the leaders feel comfortable and they have lowered their guards. Alex could notice the change in their mood. Initially they were quite agitated however, now they were looking calm and composed. After carefully listening to them Alex rephrased their main demands and assured them that he will inform the same to the senior management at HO. Both the leaders thanked him for patiently listening to them. They even wished him success for the program he was conducting.

Ponder, what was responsible for union leaders to change their mind, while Alex did not take any action as asked by them earlier. The attentive listening and the sincere approach, yes you guessed it right…..

(Excerpts from the book, ‘Why My Horse Doesn’t Listen – Learn to communicate effectively)

Vivek Mehrotra

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