Monday, 12 October 2009

Pay it forward

(Strictly for the young)
THE movie was Pay it forward, and it was a simple, touching story, featuring a little boy, his mum, a teacher, and his school. The movie had us laughing and crying, and is definitely on my list of ‘must watch again’ movies!
The movie, Pay it Forward, more than launching just a beautiful movie with a long title, it also put forward a thought process, an instruction and a teaching. And all these are contained in those three words — Pay. It. Forward.
The principle is simple. When someone helps you, makes you happy, does something for you... Do not pay it back, pay it forward.
Give to someone else, Change someone else’s life, make someone else happy. This could also apply to negative things, but you know what? For those ones, we like to apply the principle of letting things go! Jo!
So positive!
Here is a question. Have you ever observed that there are some people, who seem to play the role of the givers in your life? Money, advice, help, joy... you seem to always run to them for these things and they give lovingly and willingly.
And then there are those who seem to always receive for you. No, not ‘take’ as this carries with it, negativity. But, ‘receive’. As if you give to these people naturally, and ask nothing in return.
Ever noticed it?
With some people, there is giving and receiving, but not the same thing. You give advice, they give laughter. You give money, they give ideas. You give shelter, they give peace. And we could go as literal or as figurative as you like!

SOME say relationships are about give and take. And it is never fun when just one person is the one giving.
I argue that we all give different things! And the crucial instruction is to give. Expecting to receive from those you give to, sometimes feel like ‘collecting’ or pay back. Who am I? The Mafia?
Abeg o!
And ever felt yourself feeling entitled to something? Like, I buy Wande Coal’s CD, so, he must shake my hands when I see him in the bathroom? Or, I lent Joshua N50,000 last year and I am now broke so why is he not offering to loan me money?
It is sometimes easier to give and move on, than waiting to collect, for if we do not get back the measure we gave, well to borrow a line from P Square’s new hit single, Wahala dey!
But if after all is said and done, you remain the type of person who hates to be indebted to anyone, then I would say, pay it back. But don’t just pay it back... pay it forward!
Speaking of principles...
Or philosophies...
I stumbled upon one recently, and it involved Coca-Cola!
Let me explain...

HI. My name is Tosyn. And I am a cocaholic. But one day, I decided to give in to pressure. Not only had people warned me that drinking so many soft drinks would be bad news for me health wise (blood sugar, back aches, insomnia), beauty wise (just not good for the face), body image wise (sugar equal weight), and psychologically wise (sugar and caffeine are addictive and make you irritable)
My hyperactivity and practically everything wrong with me (including possibly my height or lack thereof) was blamed on the drinks I consumed so I decided to stop. For a month. To see.
Not willing to rely on willpower alone, I prayed to find some overwhelming reason, and stumbled upon one — Up for charity.
What are you willing to give up for charity?
Thirty days.
One habit or something you are dependent on.
Donate the amount you would have spent on that habit or item per day to any charity of your choice.
Sounds interesting?

Interviewer, Interviewee

(Just Life)
HE told me that he had prepared very well for the job interview and to make sure he was telling the truth we ran through some possible questions he might be asked. I cleared my throat and used my best “interviewer’s voice” to ask the questions.
How old are you?’
Thirty two, madam.’
I checked his CV to be sure that his answer was correct. I didn’t want his case to be like that man who had changed his age so many times that he lost track of what age he had stated at a particular company when he finally went for the interview! I also did not want his case to be like the other man who based on the information in his CV seemed to have finished secondary school at the ripe age of seven! But everything was okay, at least for Nigeria, for if an interviewer had asked that same question in a place like the United States of America he could get accused of discrimination!
Questions not to ask if interviewing someone in America include
‘When was the last time you were arrested?’ (Criminal Record)
‘Are you female?’ (Gender);
‘Are you divorced?’(Marital Status)
‘Are you Chinese or Japanese or Nigerian?’(National origin)
‘How will you handle the long commute?’ (Residence)
‘Are you gay?’ (Sexual preference)
Meanwhile back here (in this our absolutely wonderful country where anything seems to go and usually does), anyone who has attended an interview knows that you’ll get asked at least one of the above questions (except perhaps for the last one).
Come to think of it, I do believe all of these (except perhaps for the first and last one) are usually clearly stated in most CVs here!

HNCE, a long time ago when I’d just had my first child, I attended an interview where when the interviewer asked how many children I had and I said one, he proceeded to tell me that he didn’t think they could take me because I would most probably be needing breaks as I was sure to have more children!
Anyway, if you’ve been fortunate to be shortlisted for an interview then the least you can do is to prepare for it as best as you can. Do try to complete all your preparations at least a day before the interview.
It is also really important dress appropriately for the job you are applying for. You may need to visit the offices of the company if possible to see what the employees in positions similar to the one that you’re applying for are wearing.
Remember not to visit the office on a Friday, because if they observe ‘casual Friday’ there you may find yourself dressed in your best jeans and shirt for the interview!
Interviews can be nerve racking but you should do your best to project confidence and a positive attitude and always be aware of your tone of voice, your posture, energy level, and enthusiasm.
Oh yes, no one will usually tell you this but try to clear your bowels before the interview.
Man sometimes reacts to tension by releasing ... and you don’t want to be running off to the toilet instead of the interview room when your name gets called do you? Good luck if you have an interview this week.

(GOOD manners)
NO. It’s not about churches now. This one is about generic offering; the art of giving, if you like.
There are people you accept stuff from and you feel demeaned and diminished thereafter. Others there are who make it easy for you to accept their offering because they make the proposition all so sweet. It is a matter of style. How can we benefit somebody without being condescending?
Offering is a very delicate thing because of the way modern society works. There is an inadequacy gap in most people and these ones go about looking out for whom they are better than before they can feel good with themselves. These types will therefore seek to play benefactor in order to satisfy their egos.
The way the psychotherapist puts it is that they’d rather have you in the wheelchair so they can be the ones pushing you.
May be because of the attitude of these types, a counter attitude has been developed in the camp of receivers of favour. Some choose to die in silence than receive favour from others. You can’t rule out pride from this group.
My daughter’s overgrown wears recently had us doing a lot of soul-searching before we could broach the matter with the family we intended to pass them on to. Thankfully the mother of the receiving girl welcomed the gesture enthusiastically to our great relief.
There is another group of givers who practice what in our parlance we call: Take don’t kill me. These ones offer as if it is by compulsion.
They are caught in situations where custom and etiquette ‘compel’ them to give against their wish. I had discussed in a previous piece the curt, half-hearted, ‘join me’ which some use to invite others to a meal.
But these ones are even the few who still nurse any scruples about sitting down to eat alone in the midst of others who may be hungry. When offering a meal to a guest, do not ask: ‘Have you eaten?’ or ‘What will I offer you?’
Instead say: ‘I‘ve got food for you; will you prefer rice or garri and egusi soup?’ for example. This is a more positive approach.

THOUGHTFULNESS and cheerfulness accompany a good offer. Thoughtfulness has to do with the amount of prior thought you give to satisfy another person’s unspoken need.
If at a public function you notice that your partner or a guest is having mouth odour from keeping closed lips for long, you can go out and buy some menthol-based chewing gum or sweet.
When you return, you open the pack in his presence, pop some into your mouth and offer him the open pack with a positive: ‘Have some for yourself’ while looking into his eyes encouragingly.
If you are offering somebody some used clothes, make sure they are clean and possibly ironed. Be sure they are the ones you know you can still wear yourself if not for your increased size or the desire to change your wardrobe. In other words, do not give out a dress because it is old – not even when the recipient is faceless like a church or charity.
While growing up, we can still recall those aunties whose offer you could not turn down. ‘You’re spending your vacation with me’ and that does it.
What makes these ones so successful with offering? They couch their offer in positive language and are cheerful.
We grow up and meet the younger equivalents of our favourite aunties who sell wares with so much positivism and cheer that we end up buying in order not to appear rude. Even the Holy Book affirms that God loves a cheerful giver.

Achieving the Nigeria of our dream
OUR behaviour determines the kind of response we get. Your words may even determine if you will get a positive or a negative response in an interactive process. Consider these statements.
You must get to the office by 7am every morning!
Please, kindly get to the office by 7 am every morning to enable us serve our customers better!
The first statement will trigger a negative response while the second will trigger a positive response. Effective communication is more than what you say; it has to do with how you get your message across to others. If you communicate with others based on your emotions-how you feel, you will likely trigger a negative response. Great communicators gear their interaction on what they want to achieve, not how they feel.
Neuro Linguistic Experts tell us that communication is determined by the response you get. So accept responsibility for the other person’s reaction to what you say.
Our behaviour triggers a positive or negative response. If you make your request look like you are making an order or insisting on something what happens?
The other person will probably disagree with you or resist your request. He or she may present an alternative request or suggestion equally forcefully.
By inviting people to consider your request or suggestion, you trigger a positive response. The other person will probably consider your request, request for more information or fine-tune your ideas and suggestions.
He or she may, however, give a genuine reason why they feel it will not work and provide an alternative.

In tricky situations, emotions can run high and it is easy for us to gear our behaviour to our dominant emotions rather than to the outcome we want.
Has someone ever shouted at you while making a request? How did you feel? Whenever you are communicating, do not let your emotions override reasoning. Let your anticipated response determine how you communicate with others.
Accept responsibility for the responses you get. If you get a negative or a positive response, your behaviour triggered it. Do not vent your anger on others. Be careful of how you communicate when you are emotional. If you don’t, you may trigger a negative response.

Tone determines the kind of response you get. A high tone makes your request look like a command; it may trigger a negative response. A low tone may also trigger a negative response. The other person may feel you do not mean what you are saying. In most communication, a neutral tone of voice does the magic. It makes your request inviting.

Gestures add meanings to our words. Frowning when making a request may trigger a negative response. Smiling is more inviting and may trigger a positive response. Experts tell us that only 7 per cent of our communication are determined by the words we use. More than 50 per cent of our communication is determined by our body language. The human eye can give about 250 different expressions. Make your body language congruent with your words. Learn to pay attention your gestures. They matter.

Being positive triggers a positive reaction. A positive person is optimistic and sees only the good side of every thing. A positive disposition is communicated to the other person subconsciously. The reason you like being around some people is perhaps, because they are positive.

Your behaviour determines the kind of response you get. The response can either be positive or negative. When emotions run high, they can override logical reasoning, and one might trigger a negative response in the process. You have to accept responsibility for the responses you get. Remember that gestures improve communication.

• Agbolade runs Interpersonal Skills Trainings for corporate organsations.,

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