Here is a popular trend in our Indian Culture. And in my experience, this is actually a worldwide culture…
From childhood, we are taught that there are 2 kinds of clothes, one that we wear at home and another that we wear when we go outside. Sounds like a logical and innocent practice, isn’t it!!
Let’s explore the mindset this belief creates and the ripple effects of it…
- I must look and behave differently when I’m at home Vs when I meet an outsider. In fact, as a kid, I was rewarded or punished (depending on the situation) to behave differently than my usual behavior. For example, I can be naughty in private but not in front of others. I learned my first lesson to be incongruent and un-authentic, in my childhood only.
- The first impression counts and therefore very important to take extra efforts to “manufacture” it, carefully. I must dress to please. I must talk to please. I can dress and talk whatever in private but when in front of others, I must change myself. The biggest conundrum was, “change into what?” And when years of trial-and-error didn’t get me to find out how I should be so I can make everyone happy, I gave up trying one day, only to embrace who I always was.
- I should only show my “true” side when I feel comfortable. But how to calculate that point, when both parties are busy projecting their “likable” side, instead of their true side? We judge others based on their facade while we crave to be free from our own facade.
If it irritates me to see someone wearing any clothes they feel like, anywhere, then that’s because it feels incompatible with my belief. All my life, I carefully categorized my clothes and look at this person who has rebelled the system. They follow no categorization, no system. Just pick anything and wear, as they feel like. How dare they!!
You must be thinking, what has all this to do with EI and Organisational Culture. Good question!
By now, you may have guessed that I used clothes as a metaphor.
One of the 5 components of Emotional Intelligence is Self-awareness. People often don’t connect with others at work because almost everyone wears clothes to impress others. In other words, we project an image that we think people want to see about us.
We value childhood and college days friends because they were pure. We saw and connected with their purity.
That purity got lost when we became “mature”. We don’t connect with others because we still keep home clothes and outside clothes separate. We live to maintain our images. Yes, plural, images.
We rise in our Emotional Intelligence when we connect with this awareness. This self-awareness automatically impacts my mindset, my thoughts, my feelings, my attitude, and my actions. When I empower myself, when I give permission to myself, to be myself, then only I can tolerate and empower another person. When I embrace my true image and drop the need to project fake images, I become capable of accepting the true nature of others.
Until then, I will only judge their choices which is not a reflection of their character but mine.