I have to confess that I was not smart enough as my colleagues were and one more thing, I have realized that the processing speed of my brain was comparatively slow.
Every time I found, my dumb brain takes much longer time to understand the real significance of a situation or to realize the meaning between the lines.
Usually, after an interaction or incidence had occurred with my colleagues or bosses, it kept on replaying inside my mind for days and during this process, I could understand its multitude dimensions step by step.
In my professional life, I had experienced that this weaker ability had created some sort of disadvantage for me in competitions. Sometimes it was too late to respond to a situation. Late responses made it difficult to erase out the first unfavourable impression completely and rebuilding the credibility once again to that level, wasn’t an easy task every time.
Finding smarter colleagues was very common in my professional life. These people were very talented to twist the facts in their favours and had a well-honed ability to speak lie in front of higher managements without blinking their eye.
“Repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth”, was the strategy of Nazi Joseph Goebbles. Those talented colleagues were aware of this fact and developed expertise in practising it. Today I know that psychologists also accept this phenomenon and call it as “illusion of truth” effect.
Smarter colleagues in my life were masters in creating this “illusion of truth”. Their magic was almost always giving them the desired results. Though it never appealed me as an ethical practice and I could never respect them as a human being. But that wasn’t their problem at all.
One of such colleague was Tarang Bhavsar, a very smart and intelligent young officer in the Planning Department of ‘Plastic Maschine Fabrik Ltd. I was working as the in-charge of the Trial & Testing Department there.
Our dept. often ran short of time to take a thorough trial of the machine before the customer arrives at our plant to witness the performance. A very important responsibility of my dept. colleagues were to match and assemble the ‘die head’ before trial and it was a highly precise, skilful and time-consuming manual job.
Most of the time, ‘die head’ components wouldn’t arrive on time, my dept. colleagues would be running short of time to complete the work before the customer’s arrival and V.P. Works would start putting constant pressure on me.
But in the shop floor meeting, Tarang would coolly inform the V.P. that it is already available there in the stores and would insist me to cross-check once again.
An absolute lie but presented with such a level of confidence that it made to believe everybody that the component was there. My smart colleague had a fantastic memory power to recall the ‘numerical codes’ of the components and used to use that power as a weapon to confuse the V.P., creating a puzzle by quoting the ERP/SAP codes of various ‘die head’ components instead of item names.
In my four years tenure in that company, this drama got repeated many times and almost all the time my sly colleague Tarang escaped the situation smartly creating an ‘illusion of truth’.
The benefit of his sharp memory and spontaneous lie was that he was always able to convince the V.P about his good performance and prompt actions to achieve the business goal.
Though it wasn’t the case in reality, still I have seen V.P. developing a good impression about him, even after knowing his falsehood. That is probably the strength of “illusion of truth”.
In my professional life, I came across many colleagues who were basically dishonest to the organization but were very clever and smart to project themselves as a person of efficiency and integrity in front of the top management.
Rakesh Gupta my colleague in ‘Sinox Bind’ was a person of that type. He was working there as SCM Head and I was the unit head of a manufacturing unit. He used to create this ‘illusion of truth’ in front of top management very frequently, with all his cocked up information about the supply of the components and finish product dispatch status.
In order to project an inflated delivery volume to the top management and hide his inefficiency in fetching components in time, sometimes Rakesh even forcefully picked up semifinished products from the shop floor and parked them just outside the plant gate for weeks, awaiting required components to arrive to complete the work.
(I have an impression that some management also enjoys this kind of ‘illusion of truth’ game for some unknown reason. They indulge colleagues like Tarang and Rakesh to play the game with information. Unfortunately, I had also witnessed enormous damage and erosion of growth prospect of such companies within a few years of operation).
Alicia Bassuk in his “7 Tricky Work Situations, and How to Respond to Them” said that during pressure-packed interaction with a boss, sometimes the right thing to say is stuck in a verbal traffic jam between the brain and mouth & consequently, we fail to execute in the critical moment. She said many people experience this at work.
I had also experienced such situations many times in my work life, but I don’t think that was always because of a traffic jam between my brain and my mouth. On the contrary, I believe that was mostly because of my dumb brain, not sensing the inner meaning of the statements or happenings at the right point of time.
Once ( in the same company) at a high-level meeting, MD asked me: “what is your opinion if we ask ‘X’ to go? Will we be able to take care of ‘certification’ activity he is doing or we let him complete this task ?”
‘X’ was my colleague, so I became hesitant and replied, “let him complete the certification work”. I was wrong to understand the question. The decision was already taken and the inner meaning of the question was, whether I was confident to take charge of his task or not.
In the earlier company, it was one of my jobs to analyse the shortcomings of design from the shop floor and visit the corporate office once in a week to meet the design team to discuss and fetch solutions of those problems.
I was discharging this responsibility successfully for years until a new V.P. joined in our plant and started disapproving my weekly visits to the corporate. Despite my explanation that my visit is a part of my job profile and was a directive from the top management, he kept on postponing my visits.
In promoter-driven organizations, there always exists informers within the employees. Observing that I am not going to corporate for weeks together, one such elderly colleague from production dept., visibly very close to the promoters (M.D & Chairman), complaint about me to the chairman, during his plant visit a few weeks later.
The Chairman called me and shouted, “ how dare you are to ignore the directive of top management and stopping your visits? Start visits immediately without fail.” He picked up a negative impression without any of my faults, but I couldn’t tell him at that point, that my V.P. wasn’t letting me go to the corporate office for weeks.
I consider that was my lack of agility to respond to a sudden situation quickly and I was never happy about this shortcoming.
However, at the end of career, I sincerely think that it would have been better for me :
- If I could display more smartness in the conversations with bosses and directors.
- If I could develop the agility to assess the underneath meaning of any statement or any incident/situation more quickly.
- If I could hone my skill to project my good work in a more prominent way.
I conclude that I have finished my professional life in a less smart way in comparison to those colleagues, but I could never endorse their quality of creating ‘illusion of truth’ and couldn’t appreciate the slyness and nongenuine approach, in order to get a short term gain. With my limited capability, I always preferred to deliver whatever best my dumb brain can achieve maintaining professional work ethics.