LITTLE THINGS MAKE BIG DIFFERENCES

Date
December - 2018
Author/s
-
Title
LITTLE THINGS MAKE BIG DIFFERENCES
Details:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                For Members only. For Private Circulation only.

Bombay Chartered Accountants’ Society

Harnessing Talent and Providing Quality Service

Thought Mailer                                                                       Vol. 9 1 No. 05 1 December 2018

Mr. Anish Thacker

 

LITTLE THINGS MAKE BIG DIFFERENCES

A few minutes back, I received a calendar invite for a part- heard Tribunal hearing from one of my team members. My calendar was blocked only for half an hour despite the fact that the matter was known to be a heavy matter and was likely to take most of the afternoon. It would therefore have been ideal to block the calendar for the entire afternoon. Sadly however, the team member who sent the calendar invite was unfortunately not diligent enough to think about how much time the hearing was likely to take and block the calendar accordingly.

This irritated me somewhat and I did ask the team member concerned to resend the invite. This however set me thinking as to what were the typical little things that do really get to people at the workplace? Some of these habits or behaviours often are the things that separate great professionals and indeed, great human beings from the good ones.

Some workplace related small things which I believe could easily be inculcated in oneself with careful effort could be saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to juniors and support staff as a rule rather than as an exception, coming to the office on time, informing your secretary when you are likely to be late to the office, writing something in neater handwriting particularly instructions or corrections in a document while review-ing, returning a ‘good morning’ wish of the security guard of the office building, etc. In today’s generation of young chartered accountants one disturbingly notices, with increasing frequency, a singular lack of diligence in written communication (‘principle spelt as ‘principal’, ‘lose’ spelt as ‘loose’ etc.). May be my screw is ‘ loose’ and I notice these things too often for my liking but I believe, as a child, my parents and teachers taught me to always strive for being the best and that meant being as close to perfection as you can possibly get. When I see ‘in-come- tax’ being written as ‘Income Tax’, I sub consciously register that the writer is not diligent, thereby resulting in an unconscious bias.

One more little thing that is the subject of my constant concern and at times, trepidation, is the habit of people to call you on your cell phone either without checking if you are available on your desk or when they just cannot reach you, for matters that are extremely trivial and which could easily either wait for a few hours or a day. It is particularly irritating to see umpteen number of missed calls from someone when you finish a meeting, only to find out when you call the person back that the issue was so trivial that it could have waited. In a work environment especially, if you are receiving a large number of missed calls from a colleague, you are entitled to assume it is something very urgent. When it turns out to be something quite trivial, it is very annoying. In a home environment, I have seen both husbands and wives, hound their spouse incessantly on the mobile phone to talk about issues that can easily be conveyed once the spouse returns home from work at night.

Sometimes, these little errors do slip out despite your best efforts though, and the result can be quite funny. One of the particularly humor-ous instances I recall, was when I omitted the letter, ’l’ in the word ‘public’ in a report, which did cause me a lot of embarrassment. This ‘slip’ unfortunately occurred because even a spell check did not pick up the error, and rightly so, ‘pubic’ being a proper English word, but totally inappropriate when used as an adjective to describe a company. A few other notable spelling errors which spell check won’t pick up and which can be dangerous at times are: using ‘toady’ for ‘today’ sending someone a ‘daft’ for discussion and writing ‘ass’ discussed, the latter being not only derogatory, but potentially something which if written to a lady, can get the writer sued for sexual harassment.

Some of these little things not properly done continue to perturb people at home too. For instance, I have this very bad habit of leaving the socks turned inside out before putting them for washing, something which my wife has repeatedly chided me for, but on many days still, I forget to turn them back the right way. It somewhere denotes two things in my view; a) carelessness (which I admit, I am unfortunately) and b) insensitivity to the feelings of my wife (which I am not at all proud of!). Why should one let these sub conscious traits, ticks or habits be-come a source of irritation for others? We as introspecting human beings understand this, but the habits resurface every now and again.

Several instances of the little things making big differences are also replete in history and mythology. Had Draupadi not laughed insensitively, when Duryoidhana slipped and fell into the pool of water, the Mahabharata would have never happened.

So what is it that one needs to do about these little things? I would believe that when it comes to your own conduct it is important to ‘sweat all the small stuff possible’. By ‘sweat’ I do not mean worry endlessly about small things and consequently, be obsessed with them, but cer-tainly one ought not to ignore them or brush them aside. One should by conscious observation and discipline, recognise them and try to not repeat the behaviour so that it does not affect others. As a child, I was raised by my parents and teachers to aim only for perfection. Even a small slip here or there was not tolerated. It is this ‘chalta hai’ attitude and ‘bhavanaon ko samjho’ expression in oral and written communica-tion, which is going to probably be the bane of the generations to come. When it comes to one’s own conduct therefore, one has to be un-compromising in the search for perfection or being as close to it as can humanly be possible. When it comes to dealing with similar behaviour of others, we should ideally be restrained and tolerant realising that we are not and will never be in a position to change others, thought I would want to and do, communicate absolutely clearly to them that the small thing is affecting me in a big way. Unfortunately, most people do not listen.

Active listening, to oneself and more importantly, to others, is what I would submit, helps us to keep our lives simple. It is said that in life, it is difficult to be simple, particularly in the complex environment that surrounds us today. Deep introspection however, makes us appreciate that happiness is a state of mind and it is indeed quite simple to be happy though it may probably be difficult to remain simple. This begs the question whether if we really want to be happy, do we have a choice? If not, we just have to walk down the difficult path to attain perfection. This involves taking note and care of the small things. A classical work of art can be considered invaluable because of a minor barely noticea-ble flaw but that minor, barely noticeable flaw in the working of an aircraft engine can put hundreds of lives at grave risk. I would therefore urge everyone who reads this article to not ignore those little things which one may feel are trivial. Indeed, in actual practice, it is these little things that make the biggest differences.

About: Mr. Anish Thacker,

Anish is a Partner in the tax and regulatory practice of EY in India. He is also the Joint Secretary of the Chamber of Tax Consultants. He has written several articles and presented various papers at professional and industry conferences. He is also popular for his contribution to the ‘Tax Nostalgia’ Column of Taxsutra’s online tax portal. He takes a keen interest in reading and Hindustani Classical Music. He is also fond of composing poems on subjects that touch his heart.

He can be contacted at : anish.thacker@gmail.com

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