Saturday, March 27, 2021

Excuse, blame and attribution

He was waiting for me for the last 1 hours. Of course, I was late for the dinner because of the traffic. My judgement about reaching the hotel went wrong. He must be upset as I requested him to meet to discuss the important issue. He agreed in spite of having an early morning flight to fly to Delhi the next day. I reached the hotel. He was waiting for me. I apologized for reaching late and started giving the explanation.

“My bad luck, today the traffic was terrible.” I said apologetically.

“Pune is known for its bad traffic, isn’t?” He asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“It is routine for Punekars now to be in the traffic and face the same.” He

“……….” I just smiled.

“So why use this as an excuse? We know that traffic will always derail your plans. Isn’t it wise to plan for considering the bad traffic?”

“Hmm, I agree.” I couldn't agree more. 

“By the way don’t worry, I am not upset with you. Just wanted to explain to you that we should accept the fact and consider that fact while deciding our action.”

“I agree.”

“This is a general behaviour of human beings to attribute things.”

“Means?” I asked.  

“Attribution is the way in which we determine the cause of our own or other’s behaviour.”

“Explain in more detail.”

“What you did now, you are late… and you attributed it to the traffic. So here coming late is your behaviour, but you think that this is because of the traffic”

“But that is the reality.” I said,

“No, we tend to explain our own actions in terms of circumstances and attribute the actions of others to character flaws; the reverse is true when the results are positive.” He explained further. 

“I understand attributing the cause of our action to circumstances or situations like bad traffic. But how is it related to the actions of others?” I asked my doubt.

“Take an example of an employee who has not completed the task. Generally what excuses he gives?” 

“The employee may say that he didn’t get the cooperation from his manager, or the team was not supportive. He may blame the processes, culture and anything which is not in his favour.” I replied.

“Exactly, there you are.”

Meanwhile, the waiter served our drinks. While he was serving, we took a pause. He refilled our wine glasses and went back.

‘Cheers.” We raise the glasses.

“This is also a cognitive bias, right?” I spoke.

“Absolutely right. People create their own ‘subjective reality’ from their perception of the input. An individual’s construction of reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behaviour in the world. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.”

“True, and there may be different things in life, we perceive based on our perception and make our opinions about the people.”

“Yes, when we attribute the behaviour based on the dressing style of the next person, his background, culture and many more.”  

“Hmm. How to overcome this?” I asked,

‘Simple, first start recognizing these things, these biases, the attributions we relate.”

Then he took the tissue paper and he started scribing with the pen. 

He explained the process as under:

Recognize and Realise: Recognise that these are biases and present in each individual. You encounter a lot of people and they may also attribute something with your behaviour.”

Challenge your narratives: Our brain creates story. If a new employee attends office in casuals, you will attribute that he is not serious about the job. Challenge this story. You are late because of traffic is another story, but reality is you have not planned your drive well.``

Verify your narrative: For example, instead of judging the person about the attire he wears, check his attitude and his performance. Verify the facts instead of making opinions. 

Stop giving excuses: Finally, think about what you can do to influence instead of thinking about the circumstances and behaviour of others. 

“This is excellent learning. I will definitely try to implement it in my life.” I replied.

Next 2 hours, we were into a deep discussion managing the restructuring in the organization.  

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Sunday, March 21, 2021

Your core belief decides what you are

“Do you know that we have different opinions about the same situation?”

“Because we have our own perspective?”

“True, but perspective is one thing, another is the lenses we wear.”

“Take an example of the current situation in Maharashtra, where the former commissioner of police has made allegations against the state Home Minister who asked to collect ransom of 100 crores by every month to one of the pawns who was a controversial Assistant Police Commissioner, accused of murder and putting the gelatin laden car in front of the house of business tycoon. Now few people are criticizing the home minister on this, others are trying to defend him.”

“Yes, maybe these are just allegations and there is no proof of such dealings.”

“You are right, but then all have their own perceptions about the situation.”  

“Exactly, and how the perceptions are made?”

“Based on the experiences.”

“And how are the experiences created?”

“May be based on the feelings.”

“Exactly, now how feelings are influenced?”

“Based on how we react, respond to the experience.”

“Perfect, and what is the basis of our reactions and responses?

“Our core belief.”

“How does it work?”

“Core beliefs are a person’s most dominant ideas about themselves, others, and the world.”

“You are right. Do you know how they act?”

“These beliefs act like a lens through which every situation and life experience is seen. Because of this, people with different core beliefs might be in the same situation, but think, feel, and behave very differently.”

“So, when your belief is not right, what do you do?”

“Even if a core belief is inaccurate or wrong, it still shapes how a person sees the world. Harmful core beliefs lead to negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, whereas rational core beliefs lead to balanced reactions.”


“So, in this case people who are defending the Home Minister have the core belief that this is the conspiracy against a specific caste or party. In other case, the one of the Ministers was the accused of abatement of suicide and the religious leaders and his community was defending him citing the same reason.”

“Gosh, this is ridiculous. What are those examples about self, can you make it more relevant to the personal experience?”

“Yes, you asked the relevant question, you are smart.”

“Is it your core belief?” He laughed loudly.

“Of course, that’s why you are my mentee.” I smiled. “Take an example of two people with different core beliefs receiving a bad grade on a test. Person A’s thought, “I failed, I don’t know what the issue is.” And he gets depressed. The impact on his behaviour is, he does nothing.”

“And Person B?”

“Person B thinks that he did poorly because he did not prepare for the test. He feels disappointed and he plans to prepare before the next test.”

“Explain in detail”

“So, Poor marks in the grade is the situation, this Situation has triggered the thought based on their dominant belief like ‘oh I failed, what can I do (Person A) and Oh I did poorly because I was not prepared. (Person B). The feeling was depressed ( Person A) and disappointed (Person B) which resulted behavioural action like ‘what can I do- no change’ (Person A) and I will be prepared for next test- change (Person B)”

“Understood. So, to summarise, our core beliefs, positive or negative, decide our feelings and consequent thought process which results into our behaviours, right or wrong.”

“That’s correct. You summarise it very well.”   

“What precautions should we take while dealing with people who have negative core beliefs?”

“Let’s understand few facts about core or dominant beliefs, these are following,

  • People are not born with core beliefs—they are learned.

  • Core beliefs usually develop in childhood, or during stressful or traumatic periods in adulthood.  

  • Information that contradicts core beliefs is often ignored.

  • Negative core beliefs are not necessarily true, even if they feel true.  

  • Core beliefs tend to be rigid and long-standing. However, they can be changed.

“This is useful, so people supporting the rapist and corrupt politicians have the problem with their core beliefs.”  

“I won’t answer that, you have to find yourself.” I laughed.

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Saturday, March 13, 2021

Toxic Parrot

Toxic Parrot is our state of mind which is self critical, negative and unhelpful for self and others.

Do you know that we carry a colourful but very dangerous parrot every moment?”.  He asked.

“What? What do you mean by that?” My reply.

“Parrot is a bird, it learns what you teach it, it will recite what he listened without understanding the meaning of that.”

“Yes, parrots are like that. They have a strong memory.”

“But imagine that you get that parrot. You don’t know from where it is. It doesn't have any knowledge, wisdom, or insight.”


“However, this parrot is fed with self-criticism, negative thought and is always critical with others. What will you call that parrot?” He asked me.

“Of course, it is a toxic parrot.” I replied

“Yes, Toxic parrots are specifically trained to be unhelpful to you continuously commenting on you, your life and others in a way that constantly puts you down.”

“This is interesting, I like the metaphor.” Indeed, it was a great metaphor.

“This toxic parrot will always criticize you for everything, putting down your self-image. For example, when you don’t get the promotion in the office, it will criticize that you are not worth for the promotion, you are dumb and there are others more deserving candidates. If you are late for catching a bus, it will say, there you are … late latif… as usual... you can’t, useless.”

“And how this parrot is harmful to others?” I had a question.

“Toxic parrot while criticizing you, it will also criticize others because of unhappiness. It will ask you to blame others. It will give a constant message negatively about others also.”

“You are right, yet we can often put up with the thoughts from this internal bully for far too long. We hear that “parrot‟, believe the “parrot‟, and naturally get upset. That then affects the way we live our lives – the way we behave towards others, how we are, what we think about others, what we think about the world, and how we think and feel about ourselves.” I said.

“Wow, absolutely, you are getting it now” He smiled,

“But how we can keep shut the toxic parrot.”

“There is an Antidote for this.”

“Antidote and how to use that?”

“Simple, just notice that toxic parrot, and cover the cage!”


“Imagine that you are throwing a towel to the cage where the toxic parrot is.”

“Just reinforce the message, there’s that parrot again. I don’t have to listen to it. It’s just a parrot”. He told me, “Then go and do something else. Put your focus of attention on something else, distract yourself from the toxic parrot.”

“Is it so easy? By doing this will it keep its mouth shut?”

“No, this parrot is toxic, and it won’t give up easily, so you’ll need to keep using that antidote and be persistent in your practice! Eventually it will get tired of the towel, tired of you not responding. You’ll notice it less and less. It might just give up its poison as your antidote overcomes it, or perhaps fly off to wherever toxic parrots go.”

(The story is written by Vinod Bidwaik, based on the concept of “The Malevolent Parrot” by Kristina Iving)

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Saturday, March 06, 2021

Sailboat and Life Journey

Once, I met a very successful person during one of the programmes. He was holding a great position in the multinational company. Normally when you meet such people, they give you a different perception. They ignore you; they feel superior to you and they carry the pride on their collar. They carry their attitude with them. They name that attitude as an executive presence. They carry the title they hold with them and flaunt it. Content is immaterial for them. They are respected because of the organization and their position.

However, the person to whom I met was totally different. He was well known in the professional sphere. He was genuine and authentic. He was a humble and kind person. You can see the honesty in his eyes and feeling of self- fulfillment on his face. He was very much comfortable while speaking with others and making others comfortable with his smiling look. We exchanged business cards, started interacting regularly and became good friends.  

Once I asked him, “Everybody would aspire to become like you. You are holding such a big office of the organization, still you look so cool.”

He replied, “The organization, the position I am holding is not permanent. It will go away on any day; I want people to know me for my personal qualities and not because of the organization and position I hold.”

I realized that he never shied away to tell if he didn't know something. He believed in “knowledge is the king.” He was respected for his knowledge along with his role, however still he used to listen like a student. Perhaps he might have known a lot of things, but he always gave the feeling to the next person that he was listening to him for the first time. This is an amazing quality, I must say. Most of the time, we have a comment or opinion when we know something. We tend to interrupt the conversation in such situations.        

He mentioned, “Our life is like a sailboat.”  

After looking at my confused face, he said, “Sailboat metaphor attempts to address human functioning from a holistic perspective, taking into account the many factors, both positive and negative, that influence well-being and fruitful life for self and others.”  

“Now you confused me more.” I said,

“Let me explain to you.” He took a pause and said, “Normally sailboats symbolize journey and adventure. Our life is not different from that. Right?”

I nodded in agreement.

“When we sail the boat, means when we live the life, there are different elements of that.”

“Like?” I asked.

“Like? Like, Sailboats sails on water, water in our journey means reality, the situation, the circumstances we live in.”

“Sailboat has a steering wheel; it means directions we want to take. These are also our wants, the way life we live, values we follow.”  

“This is interesting.” I was curious.

“Of course, indeed, we have our aspirations, destination in life. Sailboats are not waterproof always, possibly there are a lot of leakages. Those leakages are our shortcomings.”


“Be patient, I will explain to you other elements as well, but let’s order coffee first,” He waived towards the waiter. Waiter was busy with another customer who was scolding him for some reasons. The waiter was patiently trying to calm the customer. He politely offered him something. The customer looked relieved. After a few minutes he came to us.

“Sorry sir, we have some issues with deliveries. Shortage of manpower.” He smiled.  

We ordered coffee and some snacks. After a few minutes of pause, our conversation started.

“Did you observe the irritated customer at the next table and the way this guy managed the situation?” He asked me.


“There will always be uncontrollable situations, everybody has some strength to deal with those situations. So, when you sail the sailboat, weather is another element which resonates to uncontrollable circumstances. Weather can spoil your journey. However, Sailboats have sails which navigate as per the weather. Every human has their sails, i.e. strength.  and if you have a sail and use those sails properly you can navigate easily in any unfavourable situations. Same as that waiter did.”

Meanwhile our coffee and snacks were served.  

He continued, “Every sailor has their compass with them. We also have this with us. Internal feedback, feelings, emotions, intuition are those compasses for us. And finally, there are other sailboats in the sea and those are other people, peers, family members and friends. Sometimes they support and sometimes not. You have to establish a relationship with them. During the journey you have to take the right people with you”. 

“Mind-blowing sir. This is an amazing way to explain things.” I stood up, raised my hands and bowed in front of the great wise man.  

He smiled, “In the journey of life, I use these elements to make my life meaningful”. 

“Inspiring!” I said.

“At this moment, snacks and one more coffee are the most important elements of our life.”  we laughed. 

We continued our conversation in detail. It was my unpaid mentoring session with the great leader of the industry. 

(The story is written by Vinod Bidwaik, based on the concept of sailboat developed by Alberts, H.J.E.M. (2016). The Sailboat. Maastricht: Positive Psychology Program)

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkart and BookGanga 

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