Today to her (wife’s) surprise, I volunteered to cook dinner. I am not that expert in cooking; however, the easy recipe is of course Khichdi, easy and fast to cook. You only need rice, dal, spices, tomato, chili powder, salt, onion etc. You can add ginger, curry leaves, coriander and garlic to make it tasty. Finally, I could cook the Khichdi. My wife and son enjoyed eating that. While preparing for the Khichdi, thought came to my mind, that isn’t in our life everything is like Khichdi and onion? The same taste as Khichdi and different layers like onion? When you peel one scale, you get another in onion and we have a lot of ingredients in life like Khichdi. Our life is full of emotions like different spices.
When we go in deep, we have different meanings in life. Such layers are everywhere in life. While communicating and understanding human beings you can use the metaphor of onion. Outer layer sometimes is fragile, sometimes rigid, sometimes dirty, but as you peel the layer, you get different insights.
Human beings are made up of upbringings, culture, value systems etc. overall surrounding and society has an impact on our lives. In emotional intelligence, we always use the word, “empathy, understanding the perspective of another person”. However, it is interesting to understand how those perspectives are built over a period of times. Sometimes, it is necessary to build trust by tearing layers and self-disclosing and sometimes just being curious and making another person included to understand him/her.
Different researchers and authors have come up with different theories around the onion and that is very cool to understand. Few are related to the culture; few are related to change management but underlined philosophy is the same.
In case of organizations, organizations also have their own personalities, i.e. culture of the organizations. The outer layers are composed of the patterns of behaviour observed while interacting with employees and managers. The next layer encompasses the beliefs, norms and attitudes of that culture. The middle of the onion represents the underlying cultural assumptions and values. As the most hidden layer, these aspects of culture are much harder to recognise and understand, but all of the other layers are built upon the center of the culture onion. Therefore, careful analysis and a better understanding of the different layers as well as how they interact and influence each other is necessary.
You can very much analyse those behavioural patterns of human beings and also employees in the organization by applying this model. Sometimes the underlying reason of behaviour may be totally different than what we assume. Even though we say that values and upbringing decide the behaviour, it is also the experience a person has in the specific situation in past and recent. Responses are always interpreted and manipulated differently. The question is how we are accurate in understanding those. You can be closed to accurate by peeling the onion.
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(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organization)