Nellaiappan’s Column-7: "Communication Skills"

“Long time no see!” – When the Shift Officer greeted the Chairman of the organization who just dropped in, his immediate reaction was a “What!?” To explain that “what” in writer Sujatha’s words, it was 10,000 kilowatts. The GM-HR who accompanied the Chairman and who was also the son of the Chairman came to the rescue of the officer by diverting the conversation.

Actually the Chairman along with his family members was passing by the factory to a distant place and to break the tedious journey for some refreshment, they all just went to the factory. Because it was a Sunday, no higher official was available at the site and our poor officer rushed to greet them with a “long time no see.”

It was a shock to the officer. He could not make out the reason why the Chairman was so annoyed. Because the GM-HR knew the officer well, he intervened and saved him.

Our poor officer learnt the idiom only on that particular day, from the column “know your English” of a popular English daily. After learning something new, he applied it at the first opportunity. When he was expecting some pat on the shoulder for his knowledge it misfired.

That was not the only time his communication put him in trouble. Our officer was pet to the then GM. Every now and then he was inviting the GM to his house for a dinner. GM also was kind enough to invite him to his house. But somehow the dinner was eluding for quiet some time.

On an auspicious morning, both were discussing about the eluding dinner and decided to have that on the same day at 7.30 P.M. Our officer prepared a splendid dinner in his house for the GM and his family. Till 8 P.M no one turned up. When the officer phoned the GM, he came to know that the GM has made similar arrangements in his house and was waiting for the arrival of the officer and his family.

The Master Trainer of the organization and his Prime Disciple failed miserably in their communication. Both prepared dinner at their place and waited for the other to turn around.

They felt ashamed about their communication skills and decided not to let others know about it. They rescheduled the dinner for the next day and double confirmed the time. When the north Indian GM arrived at the house of the officer to taste the southern dishes, our officer was promptly knocking the doors of the GM Bungalow.

The telephone operator got our unfortunate officer in his mobile once, while he was standing on the open terrace above the 4th floor in the plant, supervising some civil work. She told him that VP was on the line. He answered with a “will call after half an hour”. She promptly informed the VP to call after half an hour. VP got annoyed and it has taken almost 6 months for the officer to bridge the gap.

I need not tell you, who that unfortunate officer was. But I should tell you that his experience helped many fortunate officers to improve their communication skills.

What about a delicious supper at 9.30 tonight? Somehow we should make it!

If you ask about 1) the venue 2) the menu 3) the host 4) the guest 5) the dress (formal or informal) 6) wet or dry 7) transport and 8) the agenda… well then you are smarter than the officer I was talking about.


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