Four Pillars Of My Life: My Name Is ____

‘My name is ____’, couldn’t get through the final word inspite of great struggle. I was never been able to get through till I turned the age of twenty two. I’m not sure if many would understand this inability to speak. Doctors call it as ‘autism’, which I wasn’t aware of it for several years.

People often mocked at this inability by trying to repeat my incomplete word or sentence or an alphabet of a word. With growth this looked insult, this eventually led to skip first day (freshers day) at school or college or events that needed interaction. This situation was more challenging while using public transport, conductors who didn’t understand the situation often were impulsive while handing out a ticket. I don’t blame them because of their stress of handling hundreds of commuters. But I often looked for empathy from others.

Several situations have led my mother into sadness. Her self motivated dose often fell flat on sharp words from relatives. They often termed me as a ‘handicap’. I don’t think any mother would bear the pain of hearing that she bore an ‘imperfect child’. I often vented out the anger in bathroom through a running water to hinder the real pain. I spent several minutes trying to explain myself that there would be silver lining in my life. At few times a force that often pushed me towards to end life, suicide!

I thought may be new environment, South America would help to begin a new life. But the pattern of education that required to make presentation on regular basis shattered the dream much earlier than otherwise. I had to return ! After a gap of frustrating one year, I choose Mechanical Engineering. If someone had asked, why I choose that over the other branch of engineering? I choose to overcome the humiliation from a class that might have both genders. I had become sensitive, this led to making fewer friends. I did most to avoid any situations that demanded conversations. But how long could I avoid? During a class hour an English faculty, Prof. Rajeshwari not being aware of the situation asked me to introduce but I couldn’t get through my name. Tears trickled down my cheeks in frustration!

One day Dr Tamilselvam, Head of Dept of Mechanical Engineering happen to mention, ‘I’m low on energy’. He identified my challenge, his warm words was the first pillar to build confidence. This gave rise to urge to search that could solve the stuttering. With support and faith in believing its curable from my mother, Mrs. Bharathi who became my second pillar. This search got us introduced to McGuire Programme that provided with several videos and promised to deliver best possible result in four days. But a thought that ran across was, how can over eighteen year old problem could be solved in four days? A small push from mother gave hope and rise to the third pillar, Mr Kaushik Valluri, Director of the programme. He did the right thing of calling us and adding confidence to the searching soul. I still remember his words, ‘I shall overcome the problem.’

This took me to attend the first four days programme out of which about two and half days was cut out that included TV, Phone, Internet, Peer contact. After this I was asked to make a first call to the person I desired. I choose my first pillar, Dr Tamilselvam. He was delighted on hearing me speak and able to get through few words and sentence with little struggle than earlier. This followed a call to second pillar, my mother, the emotional moment still is afresh and often makes my eyes moist. This was perhaps the first time I couldn’t sleep. The joy was unbearable! On the last day, I dialled to Prof. Rajeshwari and requested her if I could say my name now, ‘My name is Yesvanth Darma Dev D‘. I’m sure the other side would be emotional moment like mine.

Fourth pillar are all the people that accepted me over the time! I take this opportunity to thank you all for being kind and supportive.

Meet my pillars –

Earlier I was last, but now I’m first!

(The article is written by Santosh Avvannavar)




Is one member of your group bossy?

Welcome to the next article, today let’s try to explore ‘why sometimes decisions taken by a group seem ineffective?’ I’m sure we all had an experience going out with a bunch of friends to watch a movie with two or several options to choose. Even though one or two might not actually agree to the decision, may be cause didn’t want to sound ‘un-supportive’. Sounds familiar?! People tend to agree possibly of person who takes up leadership position is dominated or bossy, making it difficult to disagree otherwise. This phenomena is termed as ‘Groupthink’. This phenomena occurs when a group makes ineffective decisions for the sake of reaching a consensus. This become a major hurdle for creativity and independent thinking. Just for the sake of group cohesion one need to give up alternatives and confidence to present unpopular decision. This in turn hinders the problem solving ability of the group. This leads to disregarding the idea and accepts illogical approaches to maintain harmony among the members of group. This ultimately leads to low probability of success.

Let’s try to understand the additives of ‘Groupthink’:

  1. Decision makers constitute a cohesive group.
  2. Structural faults of the group (often insulates from outside, directive style of a leader and other factors)
  3. There exists proactive situation context (High stress to bring result, self-esteem is hit low, and other factors)

When the above additives come together in a ‘short time’, pre-decision seem decision taken and the group that does this decision are part of ‘Groupthink’ because:

  1. Overestimation of the group
  2. Closed mindness
  3. Pressure towards uniformity
  4. Omission in survey of objectives and alternatives
  5. Errors in search of information

How does one overcome the ‘Groupthink’?

  1. A framework with rules and process
  2. Participation of every member
  3. Divide into smaller group
  4. Support debate and conflict
  5. Examine alternatives
  6. Invite outside experts
  7. Leaders to hold and reflects opinions
  8. Have a devil’s advocate

I hope we had some interesting understanding on Groupthink. Let’s look into this in our next article. Next week I shall begin with a new topic on ‘Self’. Till then, Good day!

Sarbjit: Strong example of Minority Influence

Welcome to the next article, today let’s try to explore can minority (not the religious) influence the majority in decision making? I shall take a example of Sarbjit movie as a case to discuss the next article.

Largely people like to conform to majority because they want to belong to some group, this is termed as normative influence. This exists at home, work and with strangers in a situation. If the world lies one cannot be true! This scenario is sketched in the initial years of struggle of Dalbir Kaur seeking help of her brother Sarabajit Singh who convicted of terrorism and spying by Pakistan court.

Deviation from normative influence is possible when one believes in what they are saying, this reflects at point when Dalbir Kaur makes a point of seeking justice for her missing and falsely convicted brother. This struggle period of a decade that gains in momentum with several others believing in the beliefs, values and behavior. Why one do get to agree to one person? Others often analyse the message that comes out of conviction. The movie tells us that Dalbir Kaur made several attempt that the person to be convicted is walking free. When the content seem right the belief of others automatically matches to the belief of the individual, this is termed as informative influence. The movie progress to show that more and more people conform to the consistent message, this affect is known as snowball effect. What follows this is minority becoming majority. A critical mass stands to seek a solution. The indicates the normative influence that has majority. Initially others who were unsure of the support and have conformed would forget the why and how this change happened, this phenomena is known as social crypto-amensia.

Movies like Sarabjit are important to showcase/stand to others that each individuals could bring the desired change for making the world a better place to live. Next week I shall begin with a new topic on ‘Self’. Why one is important for themselves?’ Till then, Good day!

~Santosh Avvannavar, Author of She: Ekla Cholo Re~

Do group dynamics intensify our opinions?

“My direction is mine, your direction is yours” – Santosh Avvannavar

Welcome to the next article, today let’s try to explore ‘do group interaction effect good or bad?’ A concept that one would move towards their own position than coming to a consensus is termed as group polarization. This happens because of the attitudes and decisions come out in actuality. Lets take an example of group friends over a table for lunch. Few orders ‘chicken’ and remaining orders ‘egg’, the one with chicken persuade to take a bite. On the other hand people may take a bite but might stick to egg over chicken. This is likely to enhances their opinions of their initial choice! This informs us groups often make cautious or risky shift in their decision.

But why do groups polarize? This can attribute firstly to their social comparison that consists of values & beliefs and secondly risk taking attitudes or cautious more. Individuals usually conforms to their choices and line up with their choice. However this can further influence on the information that was otherwise unavailable to them earlier. This is likely to re-position on the arguments but this attitude change doesn’t come merely happen by hearing or observing but by active participation. How do we avoid group polarisation? There are numerous ways of avoiding it, firstly by bringing wide range of experience to look into the information. Secondly, research materials or handouts could be brought if ones’ opinion differs from several others. Thirdly, A group leader who could play devils advocate, by encouraging others to listen/accept the opposing members views.

Let me give an hypothetical situation. I was handling a course that had several failures after the test, as we know success does catch attention failures do! In the discussion everyone were persuading me to be considerate to pass the students. I might likely shift towards others because of the various factors or go against to break the polarization with information to prove the causes.

In nutshell, individuals need to be aware of any extreme attitude changes and the decisions that follow.

I hope we had some interesting understanding on group polarisation. In the next article we shall try to explore, what would happen to the decision that taken by group that keeps beliefs and values aside? Let’s look into this in our next article. Till then, Good day!

Why partying could be dangerous?

“The use of self-control is like the use of brakes on a train. It is useful when you find yourself going in the wrong way direction, but merely harmful when the direction is right.” – Bertrand Russell

Welcome to the next article, today let’s try to explore the causes behind ‘people losing their sense in groups’. I’m sure we have come across characters in the movie that has ‘no life’ – a nerdy, career focused and goal orientated then there is another character that describes oneself as ‘full of life’ – always happy-go-lucky, parties each day and so on. The second character makes the first character to believe that life is no that one s/he is leading, its all about partying! But I see it is as a deceptive character because the likely trend that is likely to follow is decrease in self-awareness and its leads to deindividuation (labelled by Leon Festinger, Albert Pepitone, and Theodore Newcomb). This behavior is often observed on consumption of alcohol. Let’s look into few examples on loss of self-awareness and evaluation apprehension that occurs in a group situations that foster responsiveness to group norms, good or bad.

We have come across lynch mob often believes that they will never be caught or prosecuted, as the action is perceived as a group’s work. Faceless looters are often take advantage of the situation. Now a picture people storming out after watching their team win or lose to celebrate or mourn/vent angry. They can quickly lose self-awareness and create chaos this can be attributed to arousal or distractions. This scenario is observed across several places when their favorite cine star is rested in peace!

These examples suggests us that people fail to make conscious discrimination. Individual consciousness gets replaced by collective unconsciousness.

Does it mean deindividuation is is bad mostly? Certainly not! Deindividuating group experiences such as dancing, worship, positive activity to bring cohesiveness is encouraging.

The bottom line could be, ‘Party! but don’t forget who you are’.

I hope we had some interesting understanding on deindividuation. In a group discussion if some people in a group lingers to their initial inclinations over reaching a consensus, what that would be like? Let’s look into this in our next article. Till then, Good day!

Do individual contribute less in the group?

“No one is accountable if individuals are unaccountable” – Santosh Avvannavar

Welcome to the next article to understand, why often people in a group feels that others aren’t contributing as much one think so? Let me take this out of my experience meeting an HR Manager of a company. Manager had invited me to discuss on the concern that is likely to exists in others. The following points were raised:

  1. How to make employees to take ownership of their work?
  2. People often make or take excuses while working on a project and this is heightened during deadlines. There is blame game everywhere!
  3. But this blame ceases when appraisals happen. Each individuals want to credit it as their project.

The case above and several others like at college project (like group project) Social Loafing is seen (labeled by Bibb Latane, Kipling Williams and Stephen Harkins). This happens because of the ‘common goal’ over the ‘individual goal’, where people tend to put less effort than otherwise. This is true because for a common goal, individuals are not accountable.

The case of Social loafing from Manager’s perspective could be tackled with combinations of following points:

  1. Developing a model to mechanize the evaluation apprehension.
  2. To provide/make task challenging, appealing and involving. This will lead individuals to feel that their efforts will be recognised.
  3. Incentive or reward or promotion could also be reflected on case basis.
  4. Helping people grow in their role that will give a vision to their expectations.
  5. Creating a team with like-minded people, likely to create a team.

The above mentioned five points could probably arrest social loafing by creating a culture of ‘us’.

If social loafing isn’t addressed, will people lose their sense of self in the group? Let’s look into this in our next article. Till then, Good day!

Does crowd presence really arouse people?

There is a puritan saying, “A good house is a full house”. Welcome to the next article to understand, if individuals (or we) are really aroused by others presence? In the last article we see that social facilitation happens and we respond to others. Out of my personal experience I could recall of being there for a friend while he took an arrears during a semester examination. I although had finished the examination few days earlier but decided to stay with him to complete his only a paper. I walked with him till the examination room. I told him that I wouldn’t move, till he receive the paper and nods his head confirming that he could clear the examination. This was an example to mention that during stress, companion can be comforting. But this was just complete opposite during normal semester time when he had to make a class presentation. He often perspire more, and showed the indicators of stress by sweat trickling from his brow. This extreme pressure he was found to be choking. Otherwise he wasn’t being with a known group.

In order to understand this affect of crowd in a movie hall, I went to see a English movie thrice in the same hall during the same week. I chose a seat that had crowd around me. I realized that some percentage of crowd was unable to follow the British accent. At some scene I intentionally laughed, and found that neighboring members were also induced to laugh.

There was another experience of handling three sections of a computer science students on a training module. Section 1 had 65% attendance and the class didn’t seem lively because of the empty chairs and grouping the students (friends were separated). Section 2 had 90% attendance, I noticed students felt warm and lively (some friends were made to sit together). And section 2 had 100% attendance and the students felt warm and lively (friends were made to sit together). This experimentation showed me that crowding can enhance arousal with people being seated with liked people and results could be easy behavior that facilitates the dominant behavior.

These example and others tells us crowd can intensify positive or negative reactions. But the question is, why does presence of others arouse us? Let’s look into this in our next article. Till then, Good day!

Does ‘Mere Presence’ of others affect us?

“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” – Karl Marx, Das Kapital

Earlier article we had some exposure on Group Influence (click here). Today, lets look into to understanding the blurs between the arguments on, does mere presence of others affects us? The mere presence argument is to mean that people aren’t competing, no appreciation or reward or punish. The situation is like passive audience. Norman Triplett (1898) noticed that cyclists’ times faster when racing together than when racing alone. In his own experiments with children on a task to wind string on a fishing reel as rapidly as possible. He found that children wound faster when worked with others than when worked alone. Several other experiments such as simple problems of multiplication, motor tasks and others confirmed the understanding of Social Facilitation.

However this might have seemed good but several others studies tasks which had complex multiplication problems or learning a maze hindered the performances. This confusion on sometimes facilitates or hinders, had ground to a halt. After nearly two and half decade, Robert Zajonc used basis from experimental psychology: Arousal enhances whatever response tendency is dominant. This principle actually helped in understanding the confusion that otherwise that remained for awhile. Mullen and others, found that others’ presence will energize people or arouse people. Performances showed easy behavior in easier tasks because of the social facilitates dominant responses and difficult behavior on difficult tasks because of the social facilitates dominant responses. This is often seen during a game/match that a supportive crowd responses can energies the players to performer. Does this mean larger crowd always help others performance? Let’s look into this in our next article. Till then, Good day!

Likely Definition: Social facilitation is the tendency of people to perform simple or well-learned tasks better when others are present.

Group Influence

As Margaret Mead says, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” World contains formal and informal groups. How do they influence individuals? The interactions among the group seem to have dramatic effects. The questions to be addressed how do these individuals affect behavior of the people in the group? and how decisions are impacted?

Before we look into these fascinating questions, lets first see, what is a group? According to Marvin Shaw, an expert of Group Dynamics, ‘All groups have a common thing and that is interaction.’ Does it mean people sitting in a movie hall aren’t a group? Shaw argues that mere collection of people would not be a group. There seem to be a blurs with several others arguing that ‘a mere presence could also sometimes influence one another.’ In the next article we shall try to understand ‘how presence of others can affect?’ under social facilitation topic. Till then, have a great day!