The Prima Donna

I experienced some prima donna behavior at a game today. The story is one we all can relate – a very good player constantly nit picking on all faults possible. It takes the fun of the game away, saps your enthusiasm, kills your confidence while he/she obviously thinks they are doing a favor..
This post is not so much about ‘them’ as it is about us. When/where do we exhibit such prima donna behavior?
BNET had a lovely article this week about ‘The 3 annoying habits of Successful people’. My belief is we all are successful at something – sports, academics, music, dance etc and we are all likely to relate. So, read on and see if you recognize yourself –

1. They need to win all the time. If it is important, they want to win! If it is critical, they want to win! If it is trivial? They still want to win. Here’s a hypothetical test that 75 percent of my most successful clients fail: You want to go to dinner at Restaurant X. But your spouse or friend wants to go to dinner at Restaurant Y. After a heated discussion, you go to Restaurant Y. This was not your choice, the food tastes awful, and the service is terrible. Now you have two options: You could critique the food and point out what a terrible choice this was, and this mistake could have been avoided if only you would have listened to me. The other option is to shut up, eat the food and try to enjoy the evening. Now what should you do? When I asked my clients this hypothetical, 75 percent say the right thing to do is to shut up. But what would they do? Critique the food. They do the opposite of what they know they should do.

Here’s one more hypothetical: You get home from a hard day at work. And your spouse, partner or friend says, “I had such a rough day today!” Now many smart, successful people will respond, “You had a hard day? Do you have any idea what I had to put up with today!” They’re so competitive they have to prove they are more miserable than their mate!

2. They try too hard to add value. Here’s an example: you have an enthusiastic, creative employee who comes to you with an idea. You think it’s a terrific idea. But instead of saying, “Terrific idea,” you say, “That’s good. Why don’t you add this piece to it?” Now this young person’s idea may increase in value by about 5 percent, but his commitment? Well that’s down about 50 percent because it’s no longer his idea–it’s yours.

It’s just incredibly hard for smart, successful people not to constantly go through life tweaking others’ ideas and proposals. Yes, you may be improving upon the initial idea, but you’re sapping their enthusiasm. And by the way, if you’re honest with yourself, you’re not just trying to be helpful. You’re telling the world how smart you are. For those of us with Ph.D.s, how quick are we to tell everyone that we have our doctorate? It’s just incredibly hard for smart, successful people not to go through life telling others how smart they are. But you need to stop, really.

3. They are publicly critical. As a successful, smart person, you know how important it is to create positive relationships. You also have high standards. You know when performance falls short. But what happens to these relationships when you criticize and complain about colleagues in front of other people? Of course not.

Now, just so you know, I’m guilty of this annoying habit too. The first time I got feedback from my staff, I had them fill out a form. One item on it was called “avoid destructive comments about other people.” What score did I get? The 8th percentile. That meant that 92 percent of the people in the world did a better job of avoiding destructive comments than I did. And I wrote the test!


I had quite an experience reading this list as these are among the top few things about myself that I am trying to better.

And the reason for this is we often don’t really understand how prima donna behavior can impact others. One example from my own life is when a close friend joined me for tennis once. I was in a crappy mood and was in a total ‘prima donna’ mood so I went about critiquing her every move..

That friend never picked up a tennis racquet after that pretty horrible hour. That’s how bad it hurt.

Wake up call, that!

Is it over after the romance?

The courtship phase is beautiful for all parties.
Let us imagine 2 kinds of romance –
2 lovers who seemingly cannot enough of each other. The lovers send each other cards, buy roses, sometimes even expensive gifts.
A customer who is being woo-ed by an eager service provider. The service provider showers his customer with great prompt service, throws in deals and acts as if every wish of the customer were his command.
Then comes the defining moment. The lovers get together. The customer signs the deal.
All of a sudden, a few things happen –
– The roses stop coming. Suddenly, people are ‘not how they used to be’
– The customer, all of a sudden , is passed on from one customer service rep to another the moment he runs into trouble and finds himself crying out in frustration
Does that strike a bell?
Haven’t we all been on the receiving end at some point or another? (Think of telco’s!)
I think it is a big one for us personally – to remind ourselves, whether in our personal or in our professional lives, that personality opens doors but character is what keeps those doors open.
It may not seem like it. But it is a test of character, whether as a service provider or a partner/lover..

So you have started a blog..

And you have started with the traditional ‘Hello world/these are going to be my musings’ post.
Fabulous. Now, go the distance.
Will it hit a million views? Maybe not.
Will a post of yours receive a 1000 likes on Facebook? Again, maybe not.
Will you have 100s of comments like ‘those’ popular blogs do? Again, maybe not in the near future.
Often, we define journeys by the destination. It doesn’t matter if you don’t write so well or that your grammar is not so good. These skills are always ‘work-in-progress’.
But, just making an attempt to go the distance and do whatever you started out to do (record occasional musings, write poetry, write short stories) may take you farther than you ever imagined.
And even if not, it is probably worth trying anyway.
So, go the distance – just because you can. :)

Inspiration from the kitchen friend

I was having dinner at the kitchens of a restaurant owned by a close member of family and chatting around with the employees.
There is one person who I’ve known for a while now, lovingly called ‘Abu ka’ (originally Abu Bakkar). We were chatting about his family, life etc.
That’s when I came to know that he worked for one of the Qatari ministers for 20 years (prior to the 10 years he’s spent at the restaurant) and during his time as one of the aides, he traveled to 60 countries!! In full royal style i.e. private jets, seven star hotels etc.
Talk about inspiration presenting itself in unexpected places if we take interest in people and show the willingness to listen..

Back up using Dropbox for personal needs

There’s a lot of material out there on back ups i.e. Backing up your hard drive, taking images etc.
However, I also know there’s many of us who probably use our personal laptop primarily for browsing, checking email et al and maybe use a bit of MS Office or other such applications for personal passions.
If that is the case, you might not always want to have a complex back up system set up. If you have less than 2GB of critical ‘must-not-lose’ stuff, just put it into your Dropbox. (presuming many of us these days have been exposed/are using this amazing utility)
For the uninitiated, Dropbox is a file syncing utility that you can use to share files between various laptops. The point often missed here is Dropbox can be used for backing up your own content as well, as anything you put in it is sync’d online.
So, essentially if you start using your most important files within your Dropbox folder, you can be sure that there is a copy online in case your computer crashes..
It is a precautionary measure but such things help us sleep better at night. Helps me for sure as there is some stuff I don’t want to lose!
Please drop any questions you might have in the comments and I’ll be happy to help answer them.

The work is not done when ‘send’ is clicked

In this world dominated by email, email has become synonymous to work.
What is often forgotten is that, unless you are a customer service rep, the work is not done when ‘send’ is clicked.
No, the work is done long before. Clicking ‘Submit’ or ‘Send’ doesn’t count. That’s just signalling that it is show time.
It is similar to a presentation or a play or a football match – the real work is not getting on stage and performing. The real work is the preparation that gets you in well enough shape to perform.