Why do we respond emotionally, the way we do? And, what can we do about it?

Emotions not only determine how we behave and how we deal with situations that confront us, but they are an integral part of who we are. Emotions rule our mind, we allow them to overpower our intelligence, how much ever we wish this is not true. Each of us has faced ‘amygdala hijack’ situations where we have been unable to control our emotions and have been completely devoured by them. 

Why do we react in an unreasonable and disproportionate way in some situations, and not in others? Why do two people emotionally respond very differently to the same situation? Why don’t we feel the same depth of emotions as the person facing the situation? Is it nature, nurture or situation which determines our emotional response and the intensity of it?

Paul Ekman, in his ground-breaking work around emotions, has identified some key factors which determine the power of an emotional trigger, the intensity of the emotion and the length of the refractory period (time during which we are in the grip of the triggered emotion).

These factors, listed below, can help us understand our emotional reaction to various situations:

Closeness to a universal theme

Any trigger closer to the universal theme will elicit strong emotions. One such example is road rage, which manifests in angry behaviour by motorists towards another driver to intimidate or release frustration. Have we noticed how we react when someone ahead of us crosses over to our lane from another lane? Even if we all know that it hardly makes a difference in our travel time, it is almost impossible to control our reaction. This is because the situation is closer to a universal theme where we have seen everyone reacts in a similar way, and hence, this is our learned reaction to this situation.

Resemblance to the original situation

The more a situation is like the original one, in which the trigger was first learned, the more likely is the chance of not being able to control one’s emotional response. Suppose you were constantly bullied and teased in school by other boys. In that case, there are more chances that you may have strong emotional reactions to being teased by your male colleagues at work of your age, but you may be able to ‘accept’ this from a female or a much older colleague.

The time when the trigger was learned

The earlier in life a trigger is learned, the harder it is to weaken the same. The ability to control emotional responses is not as well developed in our early age. This is one reason we have stronger emotional reactions to triggers learned in early life, which stay with us even as adults, compared with those we learned as adults.

Initial emotional charge

The stronger the emotions that were experienced when the trigger was first learned, the harder it will be to weaken the same over time.

Frequency of the experience

With more repeated episodes of highly charged emotional events of the same kind over a short period of time in childhood, the more overwhelming is its effect. Hence, if something happened to you repeatedly as a child, the more chances that it would leave you emotionally vulnerable to similar situations.

 So, how can we get better with our emotional responses?

Emotions affect our temperament, personality, disposition, motivation and perspectives. Emotional predisposition influences our behaviour, which in turn impacts our relationships. Managing emotions is not a choice but a necessity, to be accepted in any organisational or social setting.

Get better at managing your emotional responses by:

  • Becoming aware of when our emotional responses were disproportionate and unreasonable compared to the situation we faced.
  • Understanding what kind of situations trigger such strong and immediate emotional responses within us.
  • Analysing the situation and reflecting on it in the context of our experiences. What is our past could be impacting the way we respond? What is similar between the two situations (past and now) and what is not?
  • Being conscious that the dynamics of the situation has changed. E.g., we are not as helpless as we were as a child but have much more control over the situation around us, hence our ‘learned’ response is not required anymore.

When it comes to managing our emotions, self-awareness can possibly make the biggest difference. There are three stages of evolution when it comes to self-awareness of emotions and our aim should be to eventually graduate to the third stage (though it is ambitious, to say the least).

  • The first stage is post-facto, where you become aware that your reactions have been disproportionate after the event. You can’t undo what is done but becoming aware helps you make amends and salvage your relationships. And, without this first stage, you can’t graduate to the other two more evolved stages.
  • The second stage is when you become aware of your emotions during the emotional response phase. This awareness can help you shorten the refractory period and calibrate your response to the situation so that you behave in a more ‘acceptable’ manner.
  • Third, is the most evolved stage where you are conscious that feelings are welling up in you, which may lead to a disproportionate emotional response. This consciousness helps you respond with a measured emotional response.

It will always be a hard battle between what I know and how I feel but being aware will help our mind not to be completely overpowered by our emotions.

Survival guide [Covid edition]

Staying positive, relevant, and connected!

Nothing teaches you more about life and yourself than tough times. The time of Covid has been by far one of the most challenging, for most of us, something that we had not faced yet. No one saw the second wave coming in India, and it has been more lethal than the first one. The first one was accompanied by fear, but the second one has been about the loss of lives. Everyone seems to have lost someone dear – a colleague, a friend or someone in their family. The wave has now ebbed, but we are already reading about a possible third and maybe, even a fourth one, so who knows.

I can only offer my gratitude, having survived this tragedy well (so far!) and learnt some valuable lessons along the way. As I reflect on the last fifteen months or so, I notice that if I have survived and maybe even thrived at a personal level, it is thanks to the three guiding principles I lived by in these times.

  • Staying Positive

This has been very challenging, given the grief all around, and it was tough not getting sucked into the vortex of negative thoughts. Limiting intake of news is one thing that helped me for sure. News today is not as much about facts but is more of an opinion, and you don’t need too many twisted views in these times. It is also true that bad news is good business for newscasters, and hence there is always more of it. And honestly, how much of the same do you really need to watch. Just catching the headlines once a day with the ‘old style’ 15 minutes of newspaper reading was more than enough. I knew I would never miss too much as any earth-shattering news will still find its way to my ears anyway.

Spending time instead on exercising, pursuing my hobbies, and learning new things is what I found to be more enriching, and this certainly helped me stay positive. Thanks to the time this adversity offered, I was more regular with my runs, built a new exercise routine, picked up the basics of two new languages – Spanish and Urdu and was able to explore the world of Urdu poetry and ghazals!

  • Staying relevant

We are all in a race to be relevant. In times of slackened activity such as these, adding to one’s knowledge and skills is a choice that we must all exercise. My learning calendar this year has been busier than ever before. I managed to build my capability as a team coach and initiated work on PCC credentialing with ICF. This was also the perfect time to develop a program on systemic team coaching partnering with another coach. In this program, we put together elements of coaching and leadership in the context of working with teams and ran the first batch of this program. 

Being more of a generalist, diversity of knowledge and experiences has always excited me. Reading more (averaging three books a month) in the non-fiction genre and pursuing online learning on Coursera and LinkedIn in hitherto unexplored areas of knowledge afforded the opportunity to understand more of different things. I also became more disciplined with my writing, contributing articles to various forums and taking forward my ‘wannabe author’ aspirations of putting together a book on personal change, hoping to publish it soon!

  • Staying connected

These times were not the easiest to prospect business, with every CXO and every organisation managing the impact of the pandemic. However, I found it productive to stay in touch and was also lucky to make some new connections. I felt that it was easier to access people; virtual meetings became possible, as no one expected face to face meetings anymore.

I made a conscious effort to check in with most of my coachees, whom I have engaged with over the last few years. I always attempt to bond with my coachees beyond the engagement and, this was the right time to do a check-in, see how they were standing up to the challenges of present times, and support them in any which way.

I renewed contacts with old colleagues and expanded my professional network on LinkedIn. I build a discipline to reach out to at least one new person or renew a contact every single day.

With most coaching engagements now happening online, I also became a lot more productive with my time. I re-invested most of the saved time back into my coaching engagements – sessions became longer when required, check-ins more frequent, and I was always open to accommodating an extra session, irrespective of the contracted commitments. In tough times such as these, I realised that leaders wanted to be heard, and we could add much more value, just being there for them when they needed a sounding board.

For me, the mantra for surviving and thriving in these times or rather for all times is to stay positive, stay relevant and stay connected! What about you?

What is the right business model for your social enterprise?

Entrepreneurs are highly motivated, innovative and critical thinkers. When these attributes are combined to solve social problems, a social entrepreneur is born. Working in the start-up space, I get the opportunity to work with many social entrepreneurs, and a lot of them struggle to decide which business model and legal structure should they adopt. This not an easy choice since these ‘social’ start-ups can take various business models along the spectrum, starting with pure for-profit companies to pure not-for-profit businesses. This choice is crucial since it determines how this business will operate in future as each business model offers its own opportunities and constraints.

While deliberating around the business model, the two most important determinants are Customers Paying Capacity and Value Creation, as plotted on the grid axis (see image). This grid can help decide which models may be the most suited for your social enterprise. Let me dwell a bit more on each of these two axes.

Customers Paying Capacity

Whether customers can afford the services or products?

Customers paying capacity is the affordability of customers to pay for the products (or services) which the enterprise is offering. Here it is not about the need for the products (market need assessment should have already answered this) but the customer’s ability or inability to pay for them. If the customers can afford to pay, the enterprise can lean towards a market-based approach. If the customers can’t pay, then these customers need to be seen as beneficiaries, and the enterprise has to find a third party to pay for these products. An external party has to step in and pay for the product so that others can enjoy it. The third party could be specific donor’s paying on a one-to-one basis for the beneficiaries needing the products. Else, these could be ‘corpus’ donors who pay in chunks to the enterprise, which then uses these funds to serve beneficiaries without the donor knowing the specifics of each beneficiary helped.

Value Creation

Whether value creation benefits a few people or the public at large?

With your enterprise, you can create private equity or value for a few people or create public value, which is social equity. While private equity is about personal wealth, social equity is about trust and goodwill. Private equity is concentrated and delivered to private individuals and can be easily converted into monetary terms. But, this is not the case with public value creation or social equity. Public value creation is so much more challenging to always measure in monetary terms. It is about outcomes and impacts, which are not as easily convertible into financial numbers. So when it comes to the value proposition, the question is: Are we focusing on public value creation for a large number of people, or are we interested in private value and wealth creation?

While the Customers Paying Capacity and Value Creation are strong determinants of which business model and legal form the enterprise should take, another critical aspect is the orientation of the entrepreneur. The orientation of the entrepreneur also, in some ways, determine for whom will the enterprise create value. The question for the entrepreneurs to ponder here is – Do I have a distributive mindset or acquisitive mindset? And, there is nothing wrong with either. You can create social impact also with an acquisitive orientation through a ‘for-profit’ social enterprise, as long as you can zero in on the right business model. In fact, ‘for-profit’ social enterprises are much more sustainable, as they don’t have to rely on donors and grants.  

Even if you fail to do something ambitious with your social enterprise, you will still succeed in doing something important, hence your efforts will be worth it!

Is there a better way to manage conflict?

In one of my coaching sessions, a leader brought up the issue of conflict management. He struggled to understand if he was being too compromising by agreeing to the people’s views just because he didn’t want to challenge them. Digging deeper, we realised that, like many of us, he did this because he valued relationships and believed that these should not be sacrificed at the altar of conflict. He struggled to understand how he could assert his views and yet be seen as cooperative by his colleagues.

Research around this topic led me to explore the Thomas-Kilmann model (see image), which identifies two dimensions that play out in conflict resolution: assertiveness and cooperativeness. Assertiveness involves taking action to satisfy your own needs, while cooperativeness involves taking action to satisfy the other’s needs. 

The five approaches play out in the following ways:

1. Avoiding

Here, one is trying to downplay the agreement and consciously avoids participating in the situation. When one uses an “avoidance” strategy, one tries to ignore or sidestep the conflict, hoping it will resolve itself or dissolve over time. For the person adopting this strategy, staying and being seen as neutral at all costs is the foremost objective. 

2. Accommodating

Here, we let the other person rule. The attempt is to smoothen out differences, even if it is only to maintain superficial harmony. 

Using the “accommodation” strategy in conflict resolution essentially means taking steps to satisfy the other party’s concerns or demands at the expense of our own needs or wishes.

3. Compromising

Here, we work towards finding an acceptable rather than optimal solution. The “compromising” strategy involves finding a solution that will partially, but not entirely, satisfy all parties’ concerns and hence, be acceptable to everyone involved.

4. Competing

This is the win-lose zone, and parties fight to dominate and force conclusion through the exercise of authority or any other leverage they may be able to deploy. Someone who uses the “competing” strategy tries to satisfy their own desires at the expense of the other parties involved.

5. Collaborating

This is the win-win zone, and parties involved seek true satisfaction of everyone’s concern by working through differences. Using “collaborating” strategy consists of finding a solution that entirely satisfies the concerns of all involved parties and solving the problem in a way that everyone gains as a result.

Which is the best Conflict Resolution method?

It depends; it really does! We may have preferences for a particular conflict resolution strategy over the others, though all these strategies are relevant and can be used effectively in certain situations. 

It may be in your best interest to accommodate the other party rather than serve your own needs when it is a minor issue with no long-term consequences. However, when there are significant issues that impact multiple people and have long-term effects, it may make sense to choose a strategy with more assertiveness. Time available is also an important aspect. Collaboration strategy would typically take much longer. Hence, you should have the privilege of time when you decide to ‘collaborate’ while resolving the conflict.

How does one improve one’s ability to resolve Conflict?

Developing better conflict resolution skills help you choose and apply the best conflict resolution strategy effectively, depending on the situation. Some effective ways to work through conflict are:

  • Listen.
  • Agree on what all you agree on – many a time, the objective that both parties want to achieve is the same, in which case it is best to recognise that.
  • Identify specific points of disagreement.
  • Express your own needs clearly. Emphasis on “Why” is essential to make a convincing argument.
  • Mindset shift – view conflict as an opportunity for growth.
  • Focus on specific issues without generalising or escalating the situation.
  • Remain fact or issue-based and not people-based. Not liking someone is not a good enough reason to get into a conflict or not to resolve the same effectively.
  • You don’t have to always win.

 Remember that you need to understand what is at stake before deciding which conflict resolution strategy to use, despite your preferences for a specific type of conflict resolution.

The goal of resolving a conflict is not to announce your victory or suffer defeat. It is reaching an understanding, which happens once you let go of your need to be right always!

How can a Business Coach unlock value for you and your business?

Business coaching is still a relatively new field in India, but it has been catching up in recent times. While coaching has made inroads into most organisations as they see the value that it brings to their leaders and culture as it delivers sustainable change in behaviours and performance, the application of the same principles to business is somewhat limited.

As a business coach, people often ask me how a business coach adds value and but before I get into that, let me help paint the persona of an ideal business coach. As the word suggests, a business coach is someone who understands business and who is also accomplished in the art and science of coaching. Ideally, the person should have successfully run their own business or should have managed senior business leadership roles with P&L responsibilities. Their understanding of business will help them appreciate the context in which companies are run and managed; and, form a hypothesis of what can add value to the company.  And, their coaching skills will help them create awareness in the business owner for the need for change and drive them to action – first to test the hypothesis and then implement the same.

So, how does a Business Coach add value?

·  A business coach is not a consultant, and hence their views are not prescriptive, they work with the owner to co-create the journey which the business should take.

·   A business coach doesn’t only look at the business. They also see the aspirations and motivations of owners who have created and are managing these businesses.

·   Business coaches also work as a bridge between different stakeholders. I have run engagements where I have been a coach to two brothers running a business and also, a father and son, where the father created the company, and now the son wants to run the family business differently. In situations, such as these, often there are underlying tensions which may not be aired but which prevent the company from developing to the next level. A coach can play a very constructive role in finding an aligned path on how to take the business forward.

·   Consultants typically have short-term engagements, from 4-8 weeks, and if they are engaged long term, as advisors, then they tend to behave more like employees. A business coach can manage the dichotomy of being ‘with you’ and still being ‘an outsider’.

·   A business coach helps get an ‘outside-in’ view. The business owner may understand his business very well. Still, he doesn’t have as much time to understand the environment, which is changing very fast and every little change is having a magnified impact on businesses these days. While some of these changes around can add tremendous value to your company, but at the same time, these also have the potential to destroy your business model virtually overnight. Business coaches can help you pivot your business, allowing you to stay with the changing times.

·   Business owners can be very lonely, just like senior leaders. They don’t have any sounding boards, since everyone they can speak to seem to have an interest of their own or the business owner is at least suspicious that they may have a selfish interest. A business coach can be that sounding board and emotional support when it comes to business challenges.

·   In my engagements, I come across owners who continue to run their businesses, even if they are making losses, either due to emotional reasons or sometimes, I even get to hear, what will I do if I close this business down. A business coach can help you think through such dilemmas, considering both personal and business aspects.

·    Most importantly, a Business coach can help the business owner evolve into not only a better business person but also a better individual, by tweaking softer things like attitude and behaviours and looking at life beyond business.

It is time for business owners to ask themselves ‘Are they running the business or is the business running them?’ I am almost sure that once they decide to take the first step of trying out a business coach, they will realise the value that they can bring to their business.

But there is no way of knowing this, without experiencing it!

You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water – Rabindranath Tagore

8 subtle and not so subtle hacks to ace that dream job interview!

Image credit: Sanjana Jain

Interviews are often synonymous with feelings of apprehension, unease and anxiety. Our first thought as we are walking into the interview is the singular hope that we don’t embarrass ourselves. Maybe, somewhere along the line, our urge to make a good and lasting impression becomes even stronger than getting the job.

How do we prepare for these interviews?

I guess we brush up our academics, experience and think of our strengths and weaknesses. Maybe, we do that extra bit to make sure that we look our best to make an excellent first impression. If you do these, you are like thousands of others who follow the same routine.

I want to offer you eight simple hacks to ace the interview for the job that you so desperately want, co-created and time-tested with some of my coaching clients who have managed to land up with some great opportunities.

1. Perfect your pitch: More chances then less that you will be told to introduce yourself. Hence, please make sure that you rehearse your pitch or introduction well as this will set the tone for the meeting to follow. Let it be focussed, credible and concise. Weave in a personal story while giving your background or your motivation for the career you are in; this will reflect ‘authentic warmth’.

2. Match words from the Job Description: Highlight key words in the Job Description. These words find a mention there because that is what the organisation values and that is the way it thinks. Use the exact same words when you give your introduction or talk about your experience, in response to the interview questions.

3. Establish eye contact: Your facial and eye movements are always being judged and perhaps matter even more than the skills and credentials on your CV. The eyes reflect our interest level, confidence and professionalism during an interview. Establishing good eye contact will convey your full intent to listen, make you feel heard and appear likeable. In cultures, where eye contact is seen as disrespectful, you may want to be less direct. Also, remember eye contact is not staring; you just need to do it subtly and intermittently for a few seconds now and then.

4. Playback key words spoken by the interviewer: Use some of the key words that the interviewer(s) use when they talk or ask you a question. These words are important to the interviewer, and if you can subtly get them into your conversation, it would help build great chemistry.

5. Mirroring the Interviewer: Mirroring is the practice of adopting another person’s behaviours, mannerisms, and ways of speaking. We trust people who are like us, and mirroring does precisely this. Remember some critical rules when you mirror:

· Don’t mimic, keep it subtle (only some actions, not all)

· Give 20–30 secs before you mirror

· Mirror only positive behaviours

· Don’t be so hung up on it that you stop hearing and being present in the conversation.

6. Think through your Weaknesses: Always introspect and prepare equally well for your weaknesses as you do for your strengths. It is not “uncool” any more to talk about your weaknesses. But do make sure that you also communicate how self-awareness is helping you deal with and work on your weaknesses and how you are ensuring that these don’t impact your performance on the job. Self-awareness is a critical element of emotional intelligence which is being highly valued by most organisations as an essential leadership trait.

7. Prepare your questions: You need to do this for two reasons. First, you want the job as much as the organisation wants you and hence you genuinely want to ask questions to get better clarity. Second, your questions help the employer understand your way of thinking and approaching a job. Some insightful and ‘look good’ questions could be the following or their variations:

· What are the organisation’s values?

· How do you expect employees to embody values at work or what kind of characteristics do you expect in the employees to ensure that they represent the same values? (for the second question, you could also, just pick up one value)

· What are the three critical success factors for an employee to succeed in this job?

· How does this job add value to the overall vision or strategy of the company?

· What does success look like in this job, and how do you measure the same?

· What do you like the most about working for this organisation?

· What else on my CV, could have qualified me as the best fit for this job?

8. Maintain your position as an equal: Make sure that you participate in the interview process as an equal; however, desperate you may be for the opportunity. Your confidence should come across in the discussions; in fact, that is the reason that it is said that you should move on when you are at your best! Don’t foul mouth your current employer and don’t let the frustrations of your existing job surface. You should be in a mode of ‘exploration with great zeal’. When it comes to making the offer, the employer should have to make an effort to win you over.

These strategies work not only in interviews but for other conversations as well. These help people relate to you better, help you develop great chemistry and build more profound engagement with others, from the very first meeting onwards.

All the best for that dream job interview, go for it with full confidence, armed with these hacks!

COVID 19 disruption — a reset moment!

#Covid-19 {Reset: all;}

All of us would agree that with the COVID 19 disruption, the world has hit a reset button. A few months ago, who would have believed that in the immediate future, we would remain locked down in our respective homes for weeks at a stretch. And, now, here we are. It is an imminent reality that the impact of COVID 19 will be felt for months and maybe years, even after the lockdown eases. Not only its economic fallout but also its social implications. Some of us may be lucky to escape unscathed, but there are tens of thousands who will have borne or will bear the loss of their near and dear ones. Millions have seen an erosion of their hard-earned savings, just feeding their families during this crisis. For many others, their sources of livelihood have just vanished as if these never existed. The havoc created by COVID 19 is probably the most defining moment since the last world war. Never in our recent memory has the entire world been brought to its knees like this before. Never have we felt as helpless as this before. Never have we come so close to doomsday.

We are slowly but surely rising to the challenge, which gives us the confidence that humanity will live through this disruption. In the midst of all this, I am wondering what is going to change in this world for better and what are the lessons, we as inhabitants of this planet would have learnt. How is this black swan event going to impact us as individuals, as communities and as a planet?


  • Much-needed opportunity to pause and re-think where are we headed in our respective lives. What is the end purpose we are working towards?
  • Become acutely aware of the fragility of life. Irrespective of the speed each of us travels at, everything comes to a stop at the red light.
  • Many us will need to start afresh. Is this an opportunity to re-write our destinies? Do we just need to do things differently, or is it that we need to do different things?
  • Living through scarcity and having our freedom curtailed is a hard lesson for this generation. Many of us have probably not encountered this as closely as this, to know its true meaning. We will hopefully now, value more what we have.
  • Some of us would have survived through our addictions locked down in our homes. This could be an opportunity for them to stay that way — de-addicted and sober, rather than queueing up at the liquor stores!


  • More closely knit and connected than ever before, we will know more about people around us and value the communities we live in.
  • Resilience to face hardships and emerge stronger by supporting each other
  • Awareness and consciousness for hygiene and sanitation will increase our levels of personal hygiene. This coming close on the heels of Swacch Bharat initiatives (in the Indian context) will mean cleaner communities going forward.
  • Respect for some of our public institutions will go up, having seen their more humane side in this catastrophe.
  • Disasters such as these are great equalisers, neither wealth nor fame nor power (ask Tom Hanks, Prince Charles, Boris Johnson or countries such as the US, UK or Italy) helps you get on the safe list is a lesson to remember.
  • Redefine the way we work. Organisations sitting on the fence on ‘working from home’ policies are realising how effectively they can operate in this mode, this live pilot has proved it to them beyond doubt. More and more will adopt this as a new way to work.


  • With this pause, nature has got the much-needed relief that it deserved to get. It has reclaimed some of what we have plundered in all these decades at an exponential rate. Will we be more conscious and considerate from here on?
  • We don’t know what we don’t know. Reminder to us, that there is still so much to pursue and discover, despite all the scientific strides the world has taken so far.
  • We all are in this together. How deeply connected the human race is and how borders don’t matter when it comes to disasters? Could we also see the world as one, when it comes to opportunities?

While we reset our lives as we come out of this, let us all hope this means more sensible individuals, a more deeply connected world and a more sustainable planet.

This is our best and possibly the last chance to inhabit a more sensitive, unified and civilised planet, let us make that happen!

Building self-esteem: setting off a virtuous cycle!

The key to improved self esteem diagram)
illustration credit – Sanjana Jain


In my coaching engagements, I often come across coachees who are feeling lifeless, deprived of a sense of purpose and hence completely dejected and lacking the motivation to work towards any goals. That sinking feeling where one feels that life is just passing by with us being only passive spectators, watching that drift but not having any energy to participate in this journey of life. I am sure that most of the people who work as Coaches, will be able to strongly relate to this situation. All of us eventually realise that this lack of motivation primarily stems from a feeling of lack of self-worth.

This lack of self-worth or low self-esteem has its roots in the absence of self-respect and confidence in one’s own worth or abilities. The only way to pull people out of this vicious spiral of negative thought and self-blame is to help them build their self-esteem. This obviously, like most other things, is easier said than done.

What are those actions that can help build self-esteem and set off a virtuous cycle of self-belief?

Practice Gratitude: This sounds trivial, but it is a paradigm shift in how we start perceiving ourselves once we start counting our blessings. In today’s competitive world, each of us has got so used to only looking at people who are much more accomplished and have done better than us. While this can be a huge motivation for positive-minded people but for people who have lost the zest for life, it is only another realisation of how far behind they have been left. No sooner, we start appreciating all that we have in life, we start realising how blessed we are. Each us have so many blessings to count, even in the worst of our states. As the saying goes ‘I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet’.

What can you do to help your Coachee discover what all she/he has to thank life for? How can you get the Coachee to start practising gratitude?

Acts of Kindness: One is bound to see oneself in a better light, once one sets out to help others. This stems not only from the feeling of compassion which normally precedes before you the urge to help someone but also from the fact that you can help only if you have something which the other person does not seem to possess at that moment. This brings about a radically new mindset — suddenly, you are the giver and not a receiver anymore!

What little ‘acts of kindness’ can your coachee start with?

Pen your problems: I am not sure why this works but it always works. For some reasons the gravity of our problems seems to dissipate when we start putting them down on paper. I suppose when we are thinking of our problems, we are always blowing these out of proportions. We are used to thinking along a single track, hence we start focussing on the problems. These are much easier to comprehend as these are already staring at us. Our brain gets so obsessed and tired with the problems, that we lose the sense to think about the solutions. Hence, it is always better to write out the problems, accompanied by possible solutions f and just doing that one realises how much one has in control and how trivial most of the problems are.

How can you get your Coachees to start using a problem-solving framework, rather than only thinking about their problems?

Pick a hobby: Having a lot of free time at hand is a double-edged sword, some people are able to use it constructively, while quite a few use it only to magnify their current depressing state. Immersing in something you enjoy not only pre-occupies your mind but also channelizes your energies and time to something creative and productive. Creativity brings hope and a sense of fulfilment as you begin to discover things you really enjoy.

Can you get your coachee to take a deep-dive within and re-discover their hobbies?

New learnings: Fresh learning is a great way to add value to oneself and build one’s self-esteem. This could be picking up a new skill or enrolling for a continuing learning program. Learning not only productively engages our mental faculties but also opens us to new opportunities and helps keep us ahead on our growth path. New skills and learnings not only broaden our horizons but also lead to new possibilities and new careers.

How would you help your coachee discover a stimulating learning environment and draw up a learning agenda for themselves?

Read to be inspired: There is a reason that such books are called ‘self-motivation’ books! Don’t just read a book but also find one or two takeaways from each book which resonate strongly with you and convert them into action statements for yourself.

How do you get your coachee to internalise the learnings from a book?

Triggers and Barriers: Probably something which sounds trivial but has a great impact is triggers and barriers. The theory of triggers and barriers not only applies to the marketing field but as much to human psychology. There are always a few people, things and places which trigger positive thoughts and a sense of well-being and there are always a few ‘barriers’ which take away from the positivity.

How can we get our coachees to identify these triggers and barriers and how can we help them use these to their advantage in their effort to build self-esteem?