14 posts categorized "Etiquette"

Communication Blockers

-Karthik Gurumurthy

“One of the basic mistakes that psychologists have documented is that we tend to blame people and their personalities for problems and ignore situations.” Chip and Dan Heath.

Complaints about your communication style may not be about you.  They may stem from your situation. One of my colleagues wanted to talk to me but was looking at the phone constantly.

The sound of  receipt of email ding, a buzzing cell phone, and a ringing desk phone are communication blockers.  A computer screen between you and your office guest is another communication barrier.

Leaders reach higher by removing communication blockers.

Turning off your computer speakers, silencing your cell phone, and turning your back to your computer screen are situational factors that enhance communication.

Give your spouse, colleague, boss, or employee your undivided attention by controlling the communication situation.  Let your son or daughter know how important they are to you by removing distractions when you’re listening.  Turn off the TV.  Go to a quiet spot in the house.

Have dignity

by Karthik Gurumurthy

 I have spent years watching successful people, and I don't just mean successful as in having lots of money or a big-shot career.  These were all people who had within themselves- happiness, peace and contentment.

Almost all successful people have a sense of their own dignity. What do I mean by this? Well, they are all pretty solid in themselves, they have worked out who they are and what they are about. They don't need to show off, brag about what they have or who they are. Their self esteem is not derived from their Profession. They don't need to draw attention to themselves because they aren't particularly interested in what we think- they are too busy getting on with things in their own lives. They maintain decorum not because they are frightened of making of themselves or falling flat on their face but because they simply are not affected with attention-seeking stuff.

It is vital to show poise, be different from the herd, have good manners, be polite and considerate to be someone others might look up to. You don't have to be all aloof and standoffish, serious and grown-up. You can still have fun, relax and take it easy.

Are you really sorry???

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Lot of us goof up and then to avoid wild consequences stick in a sorry..even though mostly it is not heartfelt. It is like a quick solution to a bigger problem. People who are married know what I am talking about. Are you serious about your apology? This is something for you to think about. I would say this is the anatomy of an apology.

What does that mean to you? If you really want to patch things up and get to the bottom of the problem (not being manipulative here!) , given above are the steps to do that. Strongly recommend..Missing any of the steps would lead you to do this process again until you get it right..

Are you really listening?

by Karthik Gurumurthy



One of the biggest assumptions all of us have is we listen well. But mostly we don't. I was reading a book "Just Listen" by Dr.  Mark Goulston. Author has outlined the importance of listening in any kind of relationship, be it business or personal. In his phenomenal book, he has classified listening into four different categories.

1.   Removed listening is just what it sounds like: removed.   It’s the kind of listening you do when you’re actually engaged in something else, like using your BlackBerry.  You may parrot back what I’ve said, but you aren’t really paying attention.  You’re mind is elsewhere and you risk letting me feel like I’m being ignored or like what I say doesn’t mean anything to you.  It’s a lot like talking over someone else’s words in a conversation—but in this case you’re “listening over” my words.

2.   With reactive listening, you’re being somewhat more attentive than removed, but still not wholly attentive. If I ask you a question, you reply with a straightforward answer but not a lot of thought. You’ve heard me, but you aren’t really mulling over what I’ve said.  Reactive listening takes away from the value of our conversation.

3.    You engage in responsible listening when you not only react to what I have said but reply with further action or elaboration. Responsible listening is the basis of all good conversations.  It’s the equivalent of talking with someone, as opposed to talking at them or over them.

4.    Receptive listening is the deepest form of listening. With this kind of listening, you let me know that you empathize fully with what I have to say, and are trying to feel what I am feeling. This is the level of listening we all want to achieve in sparring.  Receptive listening conveys generosity and respect.

Relationship builders should spend most of their time being responsible and receptive listeners and a lot less time being removed or reactive listeners.

Connecting with people

-Karthik Gurumurthy

There are few books which I revisit and reread once in six months. One such book would be "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. I have the 1944 edition of this book which was given to my dad as a gift by his cousin brother. Yes, the book is old but the contents are not.

Every time I read this, I get something new out of that book as if I am reading the book for the first time. Today I got some quiet uninterrupted time for myself and was able to read some of it. This is what I got out of it. To establish good connection with people, these would be 10 big ones.

1. Smile.

The best thing you can do when you meet someone for the first time is simply smile!

This is the number one secret for getting people to like you instantly – and it is free:-)

Try this time next you are in a crowd of strangers. Just smile gently and see what reaction you get back.

You can even go through your whole life wearing a goofy smile all the time – if nothing else, people will wonder what you are smiling about!

2. Remember their name.

When you first meet someone, ask them their name and then be sure to remember it.

If their name is unusual ask them how it should be correctly pronounced and even ask where it is from.

Be sure to address them by their name early on in the conversation – that will also help you remember it.

To most people, the sound of their own name is the most beautiful sound in the world!

3. Look people in the eye.

In any conversation, look at the person you are talking to and maintain eye contact as appropriate. This will also help you follow what they are saying.

Clearly you don’t want to spook them out by fixedly staring into their eyes either!

If you can’t get used to the idea of looking people in the eye, then practice looking into your own eyes in front of a mirror. This can be quite a confrontational exercise for some people but it will do wonders for your own self-acceptance.

4. Listen completely.

The greatest gift you can give a person is your undivided attention. Practice your listening skills by focusing completely on that person and being present.

Give them your 100% attention. Stop your mind from wandering and focus on what they are saying. Make the other person feel important. Your undivided attention tells the other person that you genuinely value them.

Be genuinely interested in other people. The emphasis here is on being interested rather than ‘interesting’. Be genuine about this and do not fake it. Focus on what they have to say rather than harping on about yourself and your own grandness!

Just remember the old saying – we all have two ears and one mouth – use them accordingly.

The key is to be completely present for the other person and to truly listen with your heart.

5. Build empathy and rapport.

As you listen, build empathy and rapport with your new friend.

Focus not on just the words but the nuances of what they are saying. For example, do they sound excited or bored when they talk about their job?

You will also pick up clues and remember what to talk about later in your conversation – they will be impressed with what you have remembered.

By truly empathizing with the other person, you will get to understand better their point of view. And people just adore those who are interested in their point of view!

6. Look for opportunities of helping them.

As you get to know someone better, look for ways of helping and supporting them perhaps by referring them to a friend who could be interested in their service.

Look for ways of connecting new friends with any existing like minded friends. If you have promised to do something for them, make sure you do so promptly.

You will soon create a reputation as someone who is highly connected, someone who can be trusted and someone who delivers! Building trust comes with being good for your word and being accountable.

7. Don’t give advice!

Sometime during a conversation with a new friend, you may be tempted to simply butt in and offer a solution.

However before you do so, always seek permission before you offer your input as people don’t like to be seen to be helpless.

Also, your advice should be subtly delivered rather than telling them bluntly what they should do.

Of course as your friendship develops you can be more forthcoming with your words of wisdom – but again with their permission of course.

Needless to say, it is important to be respectful of other people’s feelings and opinions. Be tactful as appropriate to the situation.

At the same time, though some people may seek out your advice they just don’t want to change – in that case, let them be and don’t make it your issue. My good friend Dr. Shamik Jain used to have this in the Email signature "Don't give advice-Fools don't heed it and Wise men don't need it".

8. Be positive.

Everyone likes to be around positive, energetic and bubbly, and not someone who is a merchant of doom and gloom.

As I heard someone say once – some people light up the room when they enter it, others light it up when they leave! Which one would you rather be?

So never dump your stuff on others. Life is too short to go around with a miserable face.

Also, learn to only say good things about others – never gossip about others as it will inevitably come back to you, and affect your friendships. Assume that anyone you are talking about can hear what you are saying about them. And actually at a subconscious level they are.

If people know you as a positive person who doesn’t get involved in gossiping, they will know you can be trusted and you will soon have a reputation as someone with integrity.

9. Be friendly and open.

It goes without saying that you must be friendly and open to make new friends! Yet so often people go through life closed and not open to new opportunities and friendships.

Knowing that everyone around you is doing the best they can, you can let down your own guard and become more open and even vulnerable.

Show your appreciation and gratitude in every way you can. Say your thanks genuinely and wholeheartedly to your new friends and especially to all those strangers who do so much to make your life convenient and easy, such as mailman and the janitor.

Your new friends will gauge you on how well you treat strangers – so make it a life long habit be always pleasant and friendly to all strangers who cross your path.

10. Be authentic and yourself.

Do you go through life trying to impress others with your status, fame and  achievements? If that is the case, then know that doing so rarely makes people genuinely like you.

From today onwards, give up trying to impress others and especially so when you meet new people. Instead of blowing your trumpet too loudly, just be authentic.

Who you are will shine through more brightly than any number of accolades or worldly ornaments.

Final words

People will come and go from your life, but their impact and their essence remains with you forever.

It is therefore up to you what you make of their presence in your life – and by applying these, they can be friends for life

More than anything, to have a friend be one yourself.

How to make 2010 the best year?

Great pointers to start off this year.

Take control

Karthik Gurumurthy


by Robin Sharma

1. Remember that leadership isn't about your position. It's about your influence.

2. Get fit like a pro athlete

3. Lift people up versus tearing people down

4. Protect your good name. An impeccable reputation takes a lifetime to build. And 60 seconds to lose

5. Surround yourself with positive, ethical people who are committed to excellence

6. Remember that even a 1% daily innovation rate amounts to at least a 100% rate of innovation in 100 days

7. Believe in your dreams (even when others laugh at them)

8. Measure your success, not by your net worth but by your self worth (and how happy you feel)

9. Take an intelligent risk every 24 hours. No try-No Win.

10. Read "Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist"

11. Watch "Man on Wire"

12. Regardless of your title at work, be a team builder.

13. Remember that business is all about relationships and human connections

14. Say "please" more

15. Say "thank you" more

16. Know your Big 5: the five things that need to happen by the end of this year for you to feel it's been your best year yet

17. Read your Big 5 every morning while the rest of the world is asleep

18. Read "As You Think". At least twice this year.

19. Be willing to fail. It's the price of greatness

20. Focus less on making money and more on creating value

21. Spend less, save more

22. Leave everything you touch better than you found it

23. Be the most positive person in every room you're in

24. Run your own race

24. Stay true to your deepest values and best ideals

25. Write a handwritten thank you note to a customer/friend/loved one every day

26. When you travel, send love letters to your kids on hotel stationary. In time, they'll have a rich collection to remember your travels by

27. Read "Atlas Shrugged"

28. Be a problem solver versus a trouble maker

29. Rather than doing many things at mediocrity do just a few things-but at mastery

30. Honor your parents

31. Commit to doing great work-whether anyone notices it or not. It's one of life's best sources of happiness.

32. Give more than you receive (another of the truths of happiness)

33. Have your 1/3/5/10/25 years goals recorded on paper and review them weekly

34. Be patient. Slow and steady wins the race. The only reason businesses that went from zero to a billion in a year or two get featured in magazines is because 99% of businesses require a lot more time to win

34. Underpromise and then overdeliver

35. See part of your job as "a developer of people" (whether you work in the boardroom or the mailroom)

36. Wear your heart on your sleeve. When people see you're real, they'll fall in love with you

37. Be authentic versus plastic

38. Read "The Alchemist"

39. Remember that life wants you to win. So get out of your own way

40. Consider that behind every fear lives your next level of growth (and power)

41. Eat less food

42. Drink more water

43. Rest when you need to

44. Read "SUCCESS" magazine

45. Write your eulogy and them live your life backwards

46. Demand the best from yourself

47. Remember that the more you go to your limits, the more your limits will expand

48. See everything that happens to you as an opportunity to grow (and therefore, as a precious gift)

49. Be obsessed with learning and self-development

50. Become comfortable alone (you are the only person you get to be with your whole life)

51. Smile. It's a stunningly effective way to win in business and life

52. Reflect on the shortness of life

53. Be bold when it comes to your dreams but gentle with those you love

54. Remember that success is dangerous because it can kill drive/innovation/passion and going the extra mile. Be successful yet stay hungry

55. Read "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin"

56. Be of deep value to this world

57. Own beautiful things but don't let them own you

58. Use excellent words.

59. Laugh more.

60. Don't complain, gossip or be negative.

61. Plan as if you'll live forever but live as if you'll die tomorrow.

62. Feel free to pass these lessons on to those you want to help.

Happy New Year 2010

Wishing you all a very Happy Peaceful Prosperous New Year 2010.

 2010  2010NewYear

My Prayer for You

I pray that...

...your eyes see goodness in all people and all things.
...you feel love toward every living creature.
...gratitude fills your heart and every thought and all your conversations.
...your positive attitude is infectious, even contagious.
...your smile makes happy all hearts surrounding you.
...your joyful spirit fills the emptiness of others.

I pray that...

...your words are kind and your actions kinder.
...compassion is at the core of all you do.
...seeds of forgiveness find fertile ground upon which to flower.
...your generosity touches those next to you and reaches those you may never meet.
...patience prevails.

I pray that...

...you are blessed with absolute clarity of mind, and precious purpose.
...the fuel of passion burns ever so brightly in every task you undertake.
...courage and caution strike an even more perfect balance in your life.
...integrity and excellence are at the forefront of all your works.
...humility becomes the foundation of your every accomplishment.
...you ask for, and receive the Divine Inspiration that is duly yours.

I pray that...

...the breezes of peace and serenity fill your sails for the remainder of your journey.
...the light that is You burns as a bright beacon to illuminate all that is right, and just.
...your heart and hands will always be busy building a better world.

May your body, spirit and soul ~ dance, laugh and sing!

--Rick Beneteau-


-Karthik Gurumurthy

I have been aware of my own need to develop excellent listening skills lately. Most of this awareness has unfortunately come from spending time with others who do not know how to listen. Not being listened to isn’t fun. And it has made me more aware that I’m often the one who doesn’t listen.

Listening is an important skill. If we desire to be excellent in business and in life – it’s imperative that we learn to listen and listen well.

The sad truth is that most of us pay little attention to being excellent listeners. We want to talk and be heard at the expense of listening to other. We want to say what we think, be in the lime light and be the star of the conversation. Yet how do we expect to be heard, if we will not listen?

The benefits of listening are huge. When you learn to listen effectively you’ll be able to influence any organization. You’ll see opportunities for growth and increased productivity. Your customers will be drawn to you and want to do business with you. You’ll keep and grow life long relationships. You’ll be able to manage conflicts more effectively. You’ll be more creative and connected. You’ll grow as a leader and draw people to you. The bottom line is that by being a better listener, you will be more influential in all you do.

Many of you know – I love to talk. Yet not everyone wants to hear me talk all the time – they often just want me to listen. I have to remind myself that I’m not always the “speaker” and that I don’t need to run at the mouth constantly. No one wants to be around someone who consistently dominates the conversation. And no one wants to just listen. We all want a chance to talk and to be heard.

I have developed an inner radar. Thanks to Shobana for creating the awareness in me. I just knew I needed to pay attention to how much I talked and how effectively I listened. I began paying attention to my conversations. I began noticing how much time I spent talking and how much time I spent listening. The sad results were that I talked way more than I listened – ouch!

In order to begin training myself to listen more effectively – I shut up. I let the other person talk. I asked questions and removed distractions. I often literally bit my tongue. And in doing so, I learned. I learned things from my clients, my friends and from my mentor how to listen . I also learned that people genuinely respond to active listening. When I listened, others were able to shine and when they did – I learned.

I believe we can all practice the art of listening and develop it into a skill. The best communicators I know are also the best listeners. Below are some tips for developing better listening skills.

Tips for Developing Listening Skills

1. Attention. Give your full attention to the speaker. When you are on the phone, just listen. Give your full attention to the speaker.
2. Focus. Focus on the speaker and what he or she is saying. Do not plan what you will say next. By planning what you’ll say next, you’re not listening.
3. Let other person finish. Do not begin talking until the other person is finished. It’s okay to ask them if they are done.
4. Don’t start. Don’t start talking immediately. Let the words of the other person sink in and then think about what you want to say. There can be silence in conversations.
5. Important points. When you begin speaking, review the important points of the speaker. Make sure you heard them correctly.
6. Ask questions. People love to have others ask them questions.
7. Give feedback. Let the other person know what you think about their comments and ideas.
8. Be quiet. Speaking less and listening more is a good thing. I have personally observed Kanti Gala practice this all the time. The old saying goes – you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Use your ears.
9. I have learned from Shobana how to be Other centered. Life is not all about us. We need to remind ourselves of this often. Focus on others. What are their strengths? What can they contribute? And how can I allow them to be the center of the conversation?
10. Let them be the star! People want to shine. They want to be heard and to be a star. Let them. We don’t need to shine all the time. By allowing others the chance to shine – we develop other leaders and bring out the best in people.

"I only wish I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen.Business people need to listen at least as much as they need to talk. Too many people fail to realize that real communication goes in both directions." Lee Iacocca

May you actively listen today!

Sending personal emails

How to send a personal email
by Seth Godin

Here are some easy to follow tips that will help you avoid being seen as a spammer, or having your emails trashed or ignored. The thing is this: email reduces friction. Greedy, lazy organizations have embraced this and tried to figure out how to blast as many emails as they can as cheaply as they can, relying on the law of large numbers. The real law of large numbers is, "using large numbers is against the law."

I want you to add friction back in. If you want to be seen as being personal, the best strategy is to be personal, which is slow and expensive.

   1. Don't send the same email to large numbers of people.
   2. If you have more than a few people to contact, you'll be tempted to copy and paste or mail merge. Don't. You'll get caught. It shows. If it's important enough for someone to read, it's important enough for you to rewrite.
   3. Careful with the salutation. Don't write, "Dear Claudia," if you don't usually write "Dear" at the beginning of all your emails.
   4. Don't mush the salutation together with the rest of the note. If I had a dollar for every email that started, "Joe, When experts come together..." That's not personal. That's lazy merging. See rule 1.
   5. Don't send HTML or pictures. Personal email doesn't, why are you?
   6. Don't talk like a press release. Talk like a person. A person is reading this, so why are you talking like that?
   7. Be short. The purpose of an email is not to sell the person on anything other than writing back. If you don't have a personal, interesting way to start a conversation, don't write.
   8. Don't send an email only when you really need something. That's not personal, that's selfish.
   9. Do you have a sig with a phone number in it? Your phone number? If you don't trust me enough to give me your real phone number, I don't trust you enough to read your mail.
  10. Don't mark your email urgent. Urgent to you is not urgent to me.
  11. Don't lie in your subject line, and don't be cute. You're not clever enough to be cute. Just be honest.
  12. Following up on an impersonal spam email is twice as dumb as sending the first one. Invest the time to do it right the first time.
  13. Anticipated, personal and relevant permission mail will always dramatically outperform greedy short-term spam. I promise.
  14. Just because you have someone's email address doesn't mean you have the right to email them.

Good manners

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Sometimes, even educated people behave in unnatural ways in petty matters and appear cheap in the eyes of others. To avoid such embarrassing situations, it is better to observe the following
12 do's and don'ts.

1. Never read the letters of even your closest relatives, friends, and family members like brothers/sisters. If you read their letters, they will thinks that you lack manners.
2. Never show interest in others peoples' personal matters and don't read their personal diaries.
3. Never see the SMSs in peoples' cellphones. Never peruse through the contents of other people's wallets.
4. Don't see their albums, unless they want/tell you to see them and do not pass comments about the album's nature and external appearance.
5. Switch off the cellphones or keep them in silent mode when you are attending official meetings, cultural programs and also during dinner parties in the presence of guests.
6. Whenever guests come over, open the door, invite them politely, and walk behind them (not before them) and make them seated comfortably.

7. Whenever you visit your friend's house, carry some fruits, sweets, biscuits or chocolates, etc. for the family.
8. Whenever you take help from others, express your gratitude by saying words like, "thanks," etc. They will form a good impression about you. Give tips to waiters in hotels or restaurants.
9. During parties or in functions take the food items along with the guests (not alone) and also it is good to serve each other and drink together. It is a good social behavior.
10. While taking coffee, tea or cool drinks in the office, always keep the files on your left side (not on the right side).
11. A simple smile on your face costs nothing but fetches big dividends.
12. Whenever anybody visits your home, usually they bring something for you and your children. Reciprocate in the same manner.
The golden word is: "Mannerisms makes a man, good manners make a good man".
"Give respect and take respect" is a good slogan and keep it in your mind, wherever you go and whatever your profession and position may be.

George Washington's Rules of Civility

  1. Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.
  2. Show nothing to your friend that may frighten him.
  3. In the presence of others sing not to yourself with a humming noise, nor drum with your fingers or feet.
  4. Sleep not when others speak, sit not when others stand, speak not when your should hold your peace, walk not on when others stop.
  5. Let your countenance be pleasant but in serious matters somewhat grave.
  6. Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another through he were your enemy.
  7. Use no reproachful language against anyone, neither curse nor revile.
  8. Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be along than in bad company.
  9. Speak not injurious words neither in jest nor earnest at none although they give occasion.
  10. Think before you speak, pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your words too hastily but orderly and distinctly.
  11. Undertake not what you cannot perform but be careful to keep your promise.
  12. Speak not evil of the absent for it is unjust.
  13. When you speak of God or his attributes, let it be seriously and with reverence.
  14. Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

Integrity and being virtuous

-Karthik Gurumurthy

What do you mean when they say you have integrity. Integrity means you are telling the truth. Integrity means you are keeping one's promises. Integrity means taking responsibility for one's behavior.

I want to be virtuous person..According to George Washington Carver,  A virtuous person is

  • is clean both inside and outside.
  • Neither looks up to the rich or down on the poor.
  • Loses, if need be, without squealing.
  • Wins without bragging.
  • Is always considerate of women, children and old people.
  • Is too brave to lie.
  • Is too generous to cheat.
  • Takes his share of the world and lets other people have theirs.

Public Speaking Tips

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Like most people, you probably lean on filler words while speaking, such as “um,” “ah,” or “you know.” But these verbal crutches diminish your credibility and distract from your message. To drop them from your speech, replace them with pauses. Start by identifying the filler words you use too often, and then pair them with an action. For example, every time you catch yourself saying “like,” tap your leg. This word-action pairing will help you be more aware of how you speak. Next, replace the filler words with a silent pause. This is the hard part, and practice is key. As you notice a filler word escaping your lips, don’t say it — just stay quiet for a moment. If you still find yourself struggling, try recording yourself while you talk about your day. Practice using pauses instead of filler words as you recall the day’s events. Over time, you’ll build a habit of not using filler words at all. You should seriously consider joining an organization such as Toastmasters who can help you overcome these issues. Two years back, my wife took me there and it is a wonderful organization where people are nonjudgmental, and the environment is very encouraging & uplifting to identify the areas and you can fix those issues by giving speeches regularly and work on improving yourself.