1. I’m responsible for hiring employees at my current workplace. Since we work remotely now, the entire process is conducted online and interviews happen over video calls. I’ve lost my patience and the ability to assess candidates who seem to be perpetually distracted. How do I know if a candidate who lets their cat slap the screen every time they disagree with our salary range is just funny or delusional about pay scales in the social sector? What was the candidate who turned her potato filter on in the middle of our call trying to tell me—that she’s lazy or just plain bored?
– Tired Recruiter, Bangalore
Dear Tired Recruiter,
Life as a recruiter can feel very frustrating and lonely. Some people have cats, others have potato filters, while you have only yourself to speak with about your struggles. But look around. Are you really alone? The chair that you are probably sitting on right now has energy, so does the computer keyboard you’re using. It is up to you to harness these energies positively for your well-being. Paint the wall that faces your work desk a luminous shade of green. This will ensure that you have a steady stream of positive energy radiating towards you all through your workday. Place a jade plant on your desk and stare at it intently every time you feel a candidate is distracted.
2. I just graduated in mass communications from a reputed university and want to work with a lesser-known nonprofit to feel good about myself. That’s just my vibe. People think I was born with it, but I’ve actually cultivated this image very intentionally by sticking to jholas and kurtas throughout my teenage years, visiting Starbucks with my old Remington typewriter more than once, and clicking photos of poor people on the streets without their consent. However, now as I go for job interviews, they keep asking me about grass and roots. Can you help me?
– Development Junkie, South Delhi
Dear Development Junkie,
To begin with, I want to emphasise that your feelings are valid. It isn’t what they are saying, it is what you are hearing. Try to focus on being present in the here and now. Focus on the words; what is it that the universe is trying to tell you when you hear grass and roots? You need to connect with the ground beneath and find your roots. Spend 25 minutes every morning walking barefoot in the eastward direction in a grassy field. This will strengthen the core of your being and remind you that you don’t have to answer every question at an interview.
3. For some time now I’ve been working at an organisation that runs gender equality programmes in low-income neighbourhoods in Mumbai. I was recently promoted to the senior leadership team and, much to my dismay, I’ve found myself in a boys’ club. My peers routinely speak over me, assume that they already know my point of view, and take decisions without me when they step out for a smoke. The most frustrating part is when they ignore suggestions that I make but are all ears when a colleague repeats the very same suggestions…just more loudly. I can’t carry on like this.
– Disgruntled Feminist, Mumbai
Dear Disgruntled Feminist,
Let me tell you, you are a gem. You have shown patience and perseverance at your job—these are desirable qualities in an employee. What you need to do is to focus on the positivity that’s within you. We cannot change others, but we can have better control over ourselves. For a gem like you, I recommend amethyst—a gemstone that brings inner peace. Wear it on the middle finger of your left hand and point it at the ceiling every time your colleagues talk over you. This will create an enlightened environment and eliminate negative energy from your life.
4. I recently started working in the social sector. I was under the impression that this sector is wholesome, but that hasn’t been my experience so far. My boss gets angry at the smallest mistakes I make, blows up, and says some really awful things to me. Then, five minutes later, he behaves as though nothing happened, and starts singing, “We didn’t start the fire.” Do you have any advice?
– Partially Amused Newbie, Hyderabad
Dear Partially Amused Newbie,
Bosses in the social sector are prone to spontaneous, angry outbursts that end just as quickly as they begin. In contrast, as a newcomer, you probably ‘think before you speak’. When he’s calm, tell him that you know you might be doing things that irritate him. Are you also the one who brings him coffee? We think of coffee mugs as innocuous objects; however, they hold immense power over human behaviour. Always place the mug upside down on his table and align the mug handle to the direction of his nose where he carries his anger.
5. I decided to switch to the social sector after spending a decade in consulting. I really needed a break, and who doesn’t want to do meaningful work. I knew I’d have to take a pay cut and I did it (grudgingly), but there is a limit. I did after all go to an Ivy League business school, not to mention everything I’m sacrificing to be here. How do I get my boss to recognise just how valuable a resource I am and compensate me accordingly?
– Not-Your-Average Corporate Crossover, Gurgaon
Dear Not-Your-Average Corporate Crossover,
First and foremost, I applaud your generosity. It is empaths like you who make the world a better place. But working for the betterment of society should not mean that you can’t ask for what’s rightfully yours! It sounds like you are a fountain of generosity for people around you, but have you checked for leaks? Are you giving more and taking less? Is that what’s stopping you from asking for the compensation you rightfully deserve? Get up right now and go check all the taps in your house, and make sure that not a single one is leaking. If you can’t find a leaky tap at home, find one in your office and fix it, and rest assured that wealth will find its way to you.