JournalismPakistan.com November 9, 2014
Why do people think there is prestige in making other people wait? It must rank as the worst manners to give an appointment and then make the person who has come to meet you cool his heels in some dreary anteroom while you flip through some magazine or doodle or simply chat with a friend while giving out the impression that you are very busy.
In a meeting, in a meeting, in a meeting. Then why the heck did he agree to 11 o’clock.
The amount of time that is squandered in making people hang around because it makes the ego feel good is prodigious. And yet, it has become a corporate symbol to keep people on hold and far too many of us who are usually reasonable people become mini despots when we sit behind our desks.
Like commanders of tanks, we feel protected enough to become insufferable. The need to project ourselves as important people in this fashion is mystifying in that truly important people would respect the value of time, be it theirs or someone else’s.
It is the pretenders who are the worst offenders and the equation they establish between power, its misuse and impact on the visitor would be only ridiculous if it was not for the high aggravation factor that comes with it. That makes it criminal.
One such manager told me that the cooling period he insists on puts the relationship into perspective. By waiting, the visitor is made to acknowledge his subordinate position in the scheme of things and he is, thereby, chastened and loses his edge in the argument that may ensue. Never let them in fresh and immediately, they will lose respect for you and assume the leading edge in the discussion.
It comes off less as a strategy and more as a confession of profound insecurity and the fact is that most people who behave high-handedly do it because they are mean-spirited and need to compensate for their being bullies. It is such a petty bureaucratic approach to things. Some people hide inside their rooms and ask other staff to do their dirty work. And you know, you just know he’s probably playing Angry Birds or twiddling his thumbs.
Just for a moment consider the fallout if you subscribe to the delay syndrome as a tactic. Do you really think that people respect you more or are in greater awe because they have been marking time? People with surrogate or institutional authority do the same thing. Closed, come tomorrow. Sorry, can’t give it to you today. The boss is not here, so call next week, a huge army of no-goods compelling people to retrace their steps again and again because it gives them a sense of control. Those with the least authority getting maximum mileage for their pathetic little allotment, enjoying the other’s discomfort, reveling in the fact that they are behind the desk or counter and are, therefore, beyond reproach.
Fifteen minutes and two magazines and one tea, tops and then I am out of there.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today andBahrain Tribune)
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