OUR SOFT SKILLS AND OUR SOFT HEARTS





What we hold as valuable in life is what we call a Value in life. Whatever we hold important in life, we always cherish as our Value. And, it all starts with small things… daily, routine things. And yes, many of these things, we simply observe and learn… Parents, teachers, elders do make a conscious effort to inculcate them into us. But, if we do not consciously accept these things and embrace them as our own, then, they will never be…

I have in me many Values which I have embraced from my own simple, barely educated, village- parents… Some Values I have observed in others around me, over all these years, and, consciously woven them around my heart. But, when I reflect on this phenomenon, I realize that a Value cannot be imposed upon us… It can only be embraced by us through our own choice… It’s a very conscious act… We like it; so, we embrace it. Period.

“A Value is a Value,” Swami Dayananda Saraswati would explain, “only when we realize that the value of the particular Value is valuable to us.”

Saanvi* is my eleventh-standard student. Anjana* is my F.Y.B.Com student. Both are very sincere and hard-working students… They are committed and respectful. I am concerned about both of them equally… I want both of them to succeed in life. Saanvi is a shy girl and too soft-spoken. I regularly remind her to speak a little more loudly and a little more clearly. Anjana is a confident girl and can articulate her thoughts with enviable clarity. Some days ago, Anjana informed me that she was planning to enroll herself with a reputed institute to develop her ‘soft skills’. Earlier, she had also informed me that, when she was in school, she had low self-confidence and poor communication skills. “I developed these qualities on my own,” she had told me. I was really impressed.

Last evening, Anjana needed some notes from me. I had the hand-written version with me (about 7 pages) which I wanted to type and send to someone today. “Anjana, can you do a favour for me?” I said, “Can you please type these notes on Word format and mail me tomorrow. I have to send them to someone?”

“My laptop is not working; I don’t know if I can do it,” Anjana confessed sincerely, “But, I will try to do something through my phone.”

“Anjana, try to use a friend’s PC or laptop, if you can,” I advised, “I know it will be a little difficult for you.”

It was around 6 in the evening. Around 10.30 in the night, I received a WhatsApp message from Anjana. I am presenting below our conversation…

ANJANA: The laptop can't be managed. Word's not working on my phone. If you want I'll send you pics of the notes now so that you can do something about it. I'll send the paper through Veena* (Veena is Anjana’s friend; she is expected to come to class in the evening today) tomorrow.

ME: Anjana can u send the notes to my class thru someone before 11 tmro. Veena will be coming in the evng. It wii be too late.  
                    
ANJANA: I'll send them through dad at 9am 
                     
ME: Thanks Anjana. Hope, u have taken Xerox/pictures for urself. G. Nt.    
                   
ANJANA: Yes, I have. Good night.

About 11 at night, I saw a WhatsApp message from Saanvi, too. Here is our brief conversation…

SAANVI: Good evening Sir, sorry to bother at this hour.                       
Tmrw we hv our Accounts exam in college. I have a couple of doubts for which I would need ur help.                       
Shall I cum early tmrw before the class (Class timings 9 am - 10 am) or would it be possible for u to help me after the class. Kindly advise.
                      
ME: Saanvi, pl come by 8:30 tmro mng. G. Nt  
                    
SAANVI: Tysm Sir. Gud night.

* My students' names changed

I have already told you, that, both, Saanvi and Anjana, are committed students and they are respectful. So, it will be unfair on my part to judge them on the basis of their text messages. Still, when I read 16-year-old shy-girl Saanvi’s message, I really felt the softness in my heart… I felt the connection, the ‘touch’! On the other hand, when I read 18-year-old confident-girl Anjana’s message, I did not feel the same softness in my heart… I felt a bit disconnected and ‘untouched’!

All that it takes to embrace a Value in our heart is to be a little sensitive and conscious about the people around us. A lot of the so-called ‘soft skills’ can be learnt by us by being a little soft in life…

I am going to tell this to young Anjana, as softly as possible, when she comes to me next.


GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Barkha Manik

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