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Second Chances

Second Chances

 11 January 2023   |    Jahnavi Gurjer

Are second chances only for products and not people? A blog by Jahnavi Gurjer, on the contrasting behaviours exhibited by us when it comes to mistakes and glitches in products vs people. How we are open to giving SECOND CHANCES to products often but not people.

“The willingness to accept behaviour and beliefs that are different from your own, although you might not agree with or approve of them” is broadly termed as Tolerance.

People throng in hordes to buy Apple’s newest version of products, which in reality is a ‘better version’ of its previous self — meaning, some features have been improved or improvised. But upon purchasing the electronic gadget, most customers feel a heightened sense of accomplishment and surging joy (an overwhelming sense of gratitude being indirectly expressed to the manufacturer for making them feel better about themselves). Well, there is nothing inappropriate about this. Gratification is a positive experience and yes, the world needs an abundance of positive experiences.

My curiosity however is the dichotomy that exists in these very same people about the tolerance they exhibit towards products and persons. If I have confused you here, then you are with me on the same page and I thank you for reading along. So as an example, let’s peek closer into the life of Sam (fictitious character), leader of a prominent corporation and a quintessential poster child of ‘success and significance’. While he ticks off many check-boxes in his multidimensional life arenas, he suffers from premature ‘death by judgement’ — he tends to quickly dismiss people who don’t fit his threshold of tolerance.

The contradiction for me is that while on one hand, Sam tolerates inadequacies in products that he consumes and waits patiently for improved versions of the same, why doesn’t he tolerate inadequacies in his people? What makes him take a tougher stand on people who fall short of his expectations?

In fact, at a recent keynote address, Sam mentioned,

“I believe that all employees benefit from an open and tolerant workplace in which they are assessed on the quality of their contributions, so there is no place for non-empathetic leaders and managers today.”

Well, I sure like the sound of what Sam said, but I’m also disturbed by the chasm between Sam’s dogmatism and his espoused perspectives on tolerance. Why does he opine one colour and execute a totally opposite colour? Is Sam even aware of his subtle, unexamined biases that are automatic, ambiguous and ambivalent? Perhaps not.

People such as Sam tend to naturally create mental categories about ‘what should be’ such as ‘efficient employees’, ‘smart employees’, ‘no-gooders’, etc, compelling them to categorise and stereotype people unmindfully. While it may be possible for Sam to forgive product shortcomings and eagerly await a better version, what holds him back in believing the best is yet to come in his people?

Are second chances only for products?

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