I have a page on Facebook where I post my favourite lines from my favourite songs and it is about to reach 1000 likes. Before that, I already have a milestone. Recently I posted the line 'Yeh kahan aa gaye hum, yunhi saath saath chalte' with a snapshot of the video - of Rekha and Amitabh taking a walk in a garden together – and it reached to more than 1000 users and about 80 of them liked it. Talk about a scandal! I was really psyched to see it.


What are the learnings? Lines accompanied with pictures get you more likes. That is one. And simplicity: you get more likes on posting opening lines of the song. Sometimes, I get carried away in my attempt to show off my taste by posting lines that show more depth. Here, I successfully avoided an urge of posting  "humein milna hee tha humdum, kisi raah bhi nikalate".


The second learning is especially relevant. It took me a long time to understand important of repetition. While being asked to talk about myself in my interviews, I somehow wanted to be "new" every time. I will try and come up with different aspects of my personal and professional history in each interview. It never worked. You hear politicians – AK, e.g. – and they make sure they say same thing again and again and suddenly they make the truth.


This week has seen me go through a sine curve with regard to range of emotions that I have felt. I am trying to get better at saying no. I am trying to get better at negotiations, in general. You know what they say – you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate. Job negotiations generally involve you interacting with strangers.


Interacting with strangers have always been a challenge to me – especially if power equations are not clearly defined.


I remember our extended team offsite where we got a younger colleague – let's call him R - drunk and stuck with a question – you know when people get drunk, they insist on knowing answers of deep questions of  most philosophical nature. So before he got drunk, we were evaluating effectiveness of Hindi as a language. I have a major crib with Hindi – presence of "tu", "tum" and "aap" has made interactions with new acquaintances so much painful. I am always struggling to find the right word to address a new person. My default tends to be "aap" but I have realised that people take that as a sign that I am younger or on the lower side of imaginary power pyramid. With women I still use "aap" without feeling much confusion – I am in love with all of them. Anyway, with "prioritizing new" as my motto, I have started to call people that I think are younger than me (and most of them are) as "tum". I see that English has escaped this problem quite simply. So R really wanted to know why there are different variation of "you" in Hindi and whether they are a hurdle in making new friends. Except that he never completed his question and even when he did, he wouldn't allow a response.


So coming back to my struggle with interacting with strangers, I made a comment to V that I somehow manage to idealize strangers. On top of that I start to believe that they know all of my weaknesses. Honestly, I don't like this level of self-awareness. My only hope is that it's a positive step towards self-improvement.


What could be a plan of action in a situation like this? I need to "not be me". I am going to do that by wearing hats – I should wear my "smart" hat, "honest" hat, "grandfather" hat and I need to keep shopping for new hats to see what works for me. There is a side story on "grandfather" hat that will digress me further so it will have to wait.


I should also de-idealize them. I need to see weaknesses of my hr manager in the hr manager that is interviewing me.


In this quest of me mastering the art of interacting with strangers, V and S have been most helpful. At times, I look at myself looking at them for approval – but maybe, I do that with everyone.


The first time I spoke in order to negotiate with the consultant, I don't think I was particularly good. I felt bad that I could not be good. Second time, it was marginally better. The interaction with the HR was a really nice surprise – that maybe I don't need rules. Just don't be presumptuous and don't take unnecessary guilt trips. I could almost be in control right now if it was not for an unplanned stupid experiment.