A story which I had read - can’t remember when, but it had left a deep impression in me. It is about a princess who was very dear to her father, the king. He would always fulfil all her wishes. Once the princess fell very ill, the king was filled with remorse. The princess took fancy to the moon and asked her father for the moon. Now the king became anxious and did not know what to do. He called all the wise men of his kingdom and sought a solution. None of the wise men had an answer. They all hung their head. The court jester observing everything said quietly, “Your majesty, let me try”. He went to the princess who was staring at the moon and gently said, “How beautiful the moon is. Precious, I wonder how the moon will be like” To this she replied, “Silly, the moon is the size of the coin made of shining silver”. Elated but still wary the jester remarked, ‘If we bring down the moon, will not the nights become dark? To this the little girl laughed and said, “You are so stupid mister, another moon will grow and replace the one that has gone. Have you not noticed how flowers bloom and replace the ones that fall?” The jester smiled and said, “Of course princess how silly of me. Next day the king presented the princess a bright shining moon, the size of a coin made of silver. Overjoyed, the princess recovered earlier than expected.

The story has a lot to teach us. Many a times we are not clear about the expectations of others and we tend to worry, fret and spend many hours trying to meet these expectations which are our perceptions of what others want. If we clarify and really seek out to understand the expectations of all with whom we interact with, life would be so much simpler. Understanding the expectations of our boss, colleagues, subordinates, family members will not only help us in channelizing our efforts in the right direction, but also in preventing misunderstandings and conflict. Before assuming, ask and clarify. Sometime we may have put in a lot of efforts in doing a particular task which we assumed was very important, however, the boss may not agree. All that a child needs may be an hour with us at the park not the expensive gadget that we gifted to him or her. Our spouse maybe just seeking a few reassuring words and not the vacation trip to the destination of our choice. Our colleagues may be looking for some timely help and not our compliments. Similarly, our subordinates maybe expecting us to be empathetic and recognise their efforts rather than an opportunity to undertake a challenging project.

It requires a tremendous amount of effort on our part to put ourselves in others’ shoes and think. Most of the time our overworked brain assumes based on our understanding of things and views of the world. Thus with people, it matters not what we can do or have done, what matters is the relevance to them.

Blog by Vandana Madhavkumar