The three wise monkeys proverbially depict that if we do not hear, see or talk evil, we ourselves shall be spared of all that is malicious and sinful. Gandhiji was able to focus on his work with persistence and focus as he stayed away from sinful thoughts and actions.
In the context of an organisation, actions of all employees put together form the culture. Therefore as an employee (whether you are a team leader or a team member), your thoughts and feelings influence what you do; and, what you think, feel, and how you act becomes the core of your work.
What we focus on, expands!
Applying the Wise Monkeys’ wisdom at work, means you identify and focus on the truth which will shape how you think, decide and act in any situation. The Evil in the proverb refers to all aspects that takes away your time and does not help you progress further.
When you listen, and see with an open mind, you are able to discern what needs your attention. What you give attention to manifests in all your actions through the day.
So how can we implement the wisdom of the 3 Wise Monkeys Gandhiji always believed in?
The key is to focus on the idea and not the person. It is a more objective way to consider the situation which not only keeps you away from ill-feeling and draining thoughts, but also helps you explore different perspectives.
1. See no evil – Be Objective
In any situation, look at the core issue in front of you and not the person or object associated with it. This takes away a lot of energy and time, in the end becoming a wasteful activity. While it is essential to identify the reason for what happened, but remaining focused on the situation you will benefit from quickly looking at alternative solutions to resolve the issue.
Coming from a subjective viewpoint, can bring in negativity and bias between team members, customers, sometimes even resulting in loss of business.
Whereas, an objective standpoint ensures the issue is addressed and resolved in the best possible way and in the shortest possible time.
Does this mean, do not raise your voice if you see something genuinely incorrect? Absolutely not!
As a member of an organization, it is everyone’s duty to raise a voice against incorrect practices. For example, if a sales or customer service representative is not speaking correctly to the customer, be swift in correcting the former. However, instead of blaming the person, focus on what could have been done better and how business loss could have been avoided.
In a conflict situation, again, see what the conflict is about and not who is having that conflict. We often make judgments basis who rather than what and why; if you reflect on your experiences, you will find this only delayed the resolution. Structuring our discussion to find good answers is the key to effective collaboration too.
2. Hear no evil – Be Authentic
Authenticity is about being honest and truthful in all that you do. Being authentic requires courage and compassion as it involves being able to see actions and hear words as they are and respond with kindness.
Are you then supposed to drive away negative emotions without paying attention? Nope, that is not what we are saying.
Feeling evil is about being angry, fearful and envious. And at work, there may be multiple scenarios that can make you angry.
It is not about shunning these negative emotions. For example: If you are angry at losing an important customer, you need to focus on appropriate expression of the anger, through meaningful conversations with your team members and changing what really matters. Use your anger to initiate the positive shifts needed in your approach towards important customers, review mechanisms, etc.
If you feel anxious and frustrated, for example about probably not meeting your target this year, you are most likely to have negative thoughts cloud your mind. This can turn in a full story from not meeting your numbers to loss of recognition to loosing key employees. Doesn’t it sound too heavy? If you feel so, in such cases, get yourself to look at what you can do best and shift your attention to that action.
Being authentic is about recognizing these feelings and choosing to stay centered by thinking and taking corrective actions. Even if there is evil or malice around you, if you choose to stay motivated and centered, you will steer your ship towards progress, thereby drowning the evil.
3. Speak no evil – Be mindful
Being mindful is being aware. Be conscious of what is happening around and within you.
At work, ask yourself, what can I do to make this situation better? How will my actions change it? If you cannot influence the outcome, choose to share it with someone who can and then step out of the story. Again, do not ignore what is not right, but do not get tangled.
If you always participate in a group of people who constantly see what is wrong in everything and everyone, without a discussion on what can be done, you will too over a period of time develop a similar attitude and also begin to feel hopeless. Surround yourself by positive people who are motivated, ambitious and intend to make a positive difference in all that they do.
Be aware of the office grapevine. Do not try to kill it; instead make use of the information reaching you to take corrective actions. You will not only surprise your teams, you will also earn their respect as a conscious and caring leader. As they say, actions speak louder than words.
When you give feedback, be conscious of words you use. Be completely sure of what you are saying to the person as he/she will take it seriously and may even get offended. Remember that you want to get results and not engage in criticism. The best feedback is one that is constructive; shared in an even tone of voice and once again one that focuses on corrective action by eliminating the evil.
Even after so many years, the principles that governed the life of the father of our nation stand strong and lead the way; be it in our personal lives or professional.
Being aware, focused and committed keeps us going even if there is negativity or evil surrounding us. If you see problems as opportunities and keep an open mind, you will have a better and clearer lens to see the world. It would be apt to conclude – let the million voices not drown your aspiration and uniqueness.
Do you want to build leadership that is aligned, constructive and positive? Write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.