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Book Excerpt: 3 Types Of Conversations Are Crucial For Your Career Growth

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Get Your Next Promotion by Manbir Kaur, the latest book published by SAGE Publications India, sheds light on the elements that affect your promotion and guides you on the path of gaining control of your corporate career. Structured as a simple and crisp read, the book features engaging examples of real-life stories from leaders across the world. It also emphasises on developing a new awareness of the self and how to convert this new awareness into action in business.

Get Your Next Promotion by Manbir Kaur, published by SAGE Publications India

An excerpt from Get Your Next Promotion by Manbir Kaur, published by SAGE Publications India.

The Art Of Conversations

Steve believes that there are three buckets of conversations that are critical to your success.

Steve says, ‘It may sound a little strange, but the first critical conversation is the one you have with yourself. It is about discovering what you are trying to accomplish. Are you doing what you think you should be doing? Are you self-motivated or self-aware, or in other words, true to yourself?’ He believes it is about choosing a field of work that is aligned with your personal goals. It is about your commitment to yourself. Another part of this conversation is about the culture that you are working in. You must ask yourself if the culture of the organization aligns with your own values. It will be difficult for you to contribute if the culture goes against your principles and you have to justify your actions or ignore the actions of those around you all the time.

Steve says, ‘The second critical conversation is the one you have when you come into a job. It is with your supervisor or the hiring manager— What are we doing? What problems are we going to solve together and what is my part in it? It is often that you will end up solving a problem that may not be exactly what your manager or you or anyone else initially thought.’

He shares his own personal experience on this at Lincoln Laboratory. They hired him to build a specific technological component, but it emerged in the discussions that they had not considered another critical aspect of that technology. Steve could not complete his job without the other part and the conversation resulted in expanding his scope.

Steve says, ‘The third conversation is the one that you initiate when you become the leader or the manager of a group. This conversation is with folks who are either working for you directly or the team that you are leading for a specific project. The purpose is to make sure that everybody knows what is really going on and what the team is trying to accomplish. I believe this to be critical for success in any kind of complicated project.’

When he was at MIT, there were different types of people from all over the world, with all sorts of diverse backgrounds, skill sets and interests. This very diverse and eclectic group of people came up with some very interesting ideas. Steve took lead in talking to the individual folks in a way that everybody understood the common objective and that helped move the projects forward. It was his skill with this type of conversations that led to his career growth at MIT.

Listening And Learning

Steve adds that for each of the critical conversations to be successful, you must have the ability to ‘listen’ and ‘understand’. He believes listening is critical to a successful conversation and it is the difference between talking at someone and talking with someone. He believes that one must also listen to the broader conversations that happen at the industry level, for example, publications, conferences and so on. Even if these things are not directed at you, they affect you, so you better be listening.

Steve says that another trick to having great conversations is to keep improving your skills by watching others who communicate well. He says, ‘It is about being aware of the folks around you and being observant. If you find it easy to have a conversation with someone, think about why it was easy. Is there something that you can learn from the experience?

Handling Difficult Conversations

Steve believes a lot of it has to be about acknowledging upfront that it is going to be a difficult conversation. You must understand that each person in the conversation probably views the difficulty a little bit differently. It is important to let each one of the people talk about their perceptions. Unless there is a deliberate error, a great conversation will convert the difficult situation into a shared tragedy. And then it is a matter of ‘how do we work through it?’

It is important to create a ‘safety zone’ so that people do not hesitate to share the real issues. Sometimes people make a mistake or have a problem that they would rather not talk about in public because it can reflect badly on them. If you create the right environment that is safe, they will confide in you and things will become a whole lot easier. He remembers the first time he had a difficult conversation with a technician about a potential layoff action. Steve set the stage of the discussion such that the technician felt empowered to share his personal problems. They ended up working something out that allowed the technician to manage the problems at home and contribute effectively to the organization.


What Can Organizations Do To Empower Conversations?

As companies become more diverse geographically, it becomes difficult to build a comfort level between people to facilitate great conversations. Organizations must find ways to make people meet in person. It goes a long way in building the comfort level and cementing the relationship. Once you have met the person, it is easy to continue the conversations later.

The organizations must facilitate video conferencing where meeting in person is difficult. Video helps to facilitate an additional level of human connection compared to talking to someone on the phone. After the connection is established, rapid communication such as texting, messaging and even social media tools like

Instagram and so on help a lot in facilitating conversations. For example, people might come across something they think you might be interested in and share that with you to start a conversation. Organizations must provide these tools and help people adopt these tools.

A culture that promotes conversations and empowers dialogue can help you blossom and grow to your potential. An important part is played by the top management of the organization in setting the right culture. Steve believes that the importance of the ‘tone at the top’ can never be overestimated. The leadership must have better conversations, to the point where just because you disagree does not mean you do not collaborate on getting things done.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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