Clarity and Assertiveness


Do you miss achieving your life and career goals at times?

Then take a second look at how you define your goals and express them.

For some time I have been working with a C-Level Executive who, a few months ago, chucked a plush job he had been holding for a good many years. This happened in the midst of the 2020 COVID pandemic when many others were tightening their holds on whatever was worthy of getting a stronger hold on. Upon questioning, I gathered that he was tired of the job and that he had potential that needed to be unleashed. Therefore, he signed off, took a vacation, took up newer studies, and acquired new skills, which decidedly made him sharper, and a force to be reckoned with in his field of choice was Sales and MArketing.

Lo behold, job offers began to pour in from friends, former colleagues, and companies that knew of his capabilities and character.

One of the calls came from a large, national banking group. My client, let us call him John Doeromeo, was excited and agreed for the first interview. ‘Chat,’ they called it instead of an interview. John came to me and asked for tips and a mock interview. Not that he needed any self-presentation tips, but I guess he just felt it might make me feel good as his coach.

Alright, so what are your reasons for wanting this job?

Actually, I do not think that I want this job. It is not an industry I want to be in.

Huh, so why so the interview?

I just want to test the market test my abilities to respond in an interview.

Will that be fair to them and to the person who referred you?

You are right. No, it will not. Well, since I have already committed to the chat, I might as well hear what they have to say. He defended.

What kind of industry do you want to be in?

Something global, something innovative, and perhaps with a reputable consumer brand. Lego?”

Sure. Okay, good luck with that!

A few days later, on the phone.

Yo coach, that was not the first interview it was their final one. They already made me an offer to join them.

I thought you did not want the job.

Yes, I did not but they were very impressed with the marketing ideas I had for their business.

You presented plans for the first interview. How does that align with you not wanting the job in the first place?

What do you mean, Coach?

You did not WANT the job, yet you shared ideas. What kind of message are you sending?

Right, Coach! I will send them and be as direct as possible. Besides their offer was ridiculously low.

Again, what exactly are we turning down?

The job. The industry.

Another few days later, on the phone again.

Coach, they doubled their offer and it is still Insulting!

They did! Did you state exactly what your career dreams were?

Yes, I thanked them for their first offer and told them that I used to make much more and was not sure about working for a bank.

And, that you think was straight and assertive enough?

I thought I would be polite and break it gently to them.

Since that did not work would you like to try to be more direct?

Hmm, I see your point. They will be calling me soon and I will be firm.

A day later.

Coach that bank person sent an email, threw in a chauffeur-driven SUV, and still want to talk to me. Now what? Help me!

End of story.

John and I then had a long, slow chat about becoming truly clear, about what is that we desire. His words and behavior clouded his true intentions not just to himself but to his audience too. From the viewpoint of his audience, it seemed as if he were interested and his discussions about monetary issues, always, come across as a negotiation for more money.

John saw the wisdom in these exchanges and as of now, I believe he may still be composing his thoughts on how to say a proper, polite, and absolute no.

now an example like this may appear light and easy to spot by many of us but when we are in the midst of conversations such as this one we tend to water down our exact wants, creating confusion and strained relationships.

Becoming squeaky clean and clear about our wants and goals takes intellect and willpower. Expressing our desires in simple, straight and non-offensive assertions may appear harsh to start with, but clears our paths faster.

Five tips for you:

  1. Think through thoroughly. Write down exactly what is it that you want with your career or your business. Taking time out to think deeply and then putting pen on paper provides clarity for yourself and locks down the goal.
  2. Share it with a friend. Expressing our desires in simple terms to a friend has the effect of revalidation upon our own selves. When we hear our intentions being framed into expressions, the effect is like that of a mantra.
  3. Assert the language. State the goals in clear, precise and future-realized words like-“At the end of the 3rd quarter of next year, I will be heading the marketing department of LEGO Asia.” When you do this, you are creating the exact frame to fit yourself into.
  4. Be unapologetic. Many years I came across a concept, “fear of success.” It took me a while to understand it. It is not the first success that we hesitate from but from the facts that we may to sustain the success and continue to strive harder, we hesitate considering the misconceived and ill side effects of say getting rich. Alternatively, we hesitate from happiness fearing the nights that may follow after. These fears are unfounded. We are meant to shine
  5. Stay on the path. Sometimes, after we assign a timeline to our goals we cannot really assess if external circumstances will influence our assessments of time. Take for example, how drastically the pandemic of 2020 set back so many plans and businesses.

The world in all its diverse glory is also quite complicated; the task of connecting the dots in life to move forward is a complex process. Getting a high-resolution clarity on our intentions lays down a very strong cornerstone to build our castles upon. Exerting assertiveness at work and in relationships is not a mean and selfish behavior but is the simplest part of growth and development. The words of Marianne Williamson do justice and act as boosters to being clear and assertive with our intentions: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frighten us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.”

When my friend, John Doeromeo, was in conversation with the bank, he was saying no in a roundabout way and the bank was reading it as his way of negotiating for more.  Like John, many of us, often, end up short-changing our desires out of courtesy and compassion towards others. There is no harm in that, but do consider the fact that like charity, courtesy and compassion can begin at home.


Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Forgiveness and Leadership


I hear it is a good thing. I understand the world expects it of me. I also trust it heals and sets me free. Yet, I have been holding off talking about this for a decade now. I was under the impression that forgiveness was the stuff that preachers and pastors talk of. Yet, every time I helped nudge a leader back into form, back into productivity, the work that, mostly, needed to be done was for them to let go of something that was weighing them down so that they could go on to something that would heave them up. They needed to let go. They needed to forgive.

Then I must also confess that every time I, personally, wanted to reach upwards I had to let go of something that was holding me down and grounding me downwards. That something was usually a disappointment, a trauma, a grudge, a failure or even just an unqualified, irrational, hallucinated fear. And, all of these causes and ‘uncauses’ had to be managed and let go of before any and every leader could climb upwards. And, by the way, everyone has leadership potential in them and thus everyone is a leader or a leader in the making. Yes, you too.

I bear grudge to a former boss who thought that I was way too green behind my ears and treated me likewise. I bear a grudge against a business partner who sabotaged contracts because of our differences in ethnicity and backgrounds. I resent customers who take their business to others because they are blood-related and not because they serve and deliver better.

From an authentic leadership perspective, all these reasons are shallow. They are ‘uncauses’ to be holding grudges, resentment and even anger towards others. An executive within an organization and a leader in social and business circles grows, blooms and inspires others when she can overcome malice, move on to a better place and better productivity for all.


Not just conceptually but in practice, in reality. Literally.


First, on a piece of paper briefly describe a grudge you hold against another. Practice precision and brevity in the description. Yes, okay to be emphatically expressive but be succinct about it. Let the written paper rest. Walk away from it for a while, maybe for days. There is a good chance that when you get back to it, you will have or will begin to separate fact from mental fiction. You will become objective about the incident, the behavior and the people involved.

You see there is a fine line that divides the objective truth and the conjured up, victim perspective, truth in our minds. It is similar to the fact that rational thinking nodes and the romanticizing nodes in our brains are not very far apart. Giving our thoughts and emotions a little space and time allows them to segregate.

Second, when you recognize the difference between self-generated illusions of hurt and deliberate damage done by another then make a cognitive effort to place yourself into the shoes of that another. Think of answers to questions like:

Forgiveness and Leadership

Forgiveness and Leadership

  • What background do they hail from?
  • What kind of experiences and exposures have they lived through?
  • What are they trying to shield, protect or prevent from happening?
  • What might be their real agenda behind their behaviors and their machinations?
  • What might they be afraid of?
  • From their point of view, what might you represent for them?
  • What might you, consciously or unconsciously, have done to annoy, hurt or scare them?

Third, visualize what your issue might look, sound and feel like to an absolutely open-minded and neutral witness to your relationship. The way to go about it is to think of critical incident or an issue occurring between two of your friends and what might the opinion of a teacher, a coach or an elder be about that incident.

  • What would a teacher, coach or an elder have to say about the grudge you hold against another.
  • What would she say or do?
  • How can you emulate the words and actions of a person you consider kind, compassionate, and a clear thinker?


As you will yourself and as you stretch your mental and emotional muscles to go through these three steps the person and his actions that caused you ire become less and less important to you.  The clarity and heightened resolution of that anger begin to fade away. Eventually, the target of your ire begins to fade and begins to reform, rebirth in your mind as another individual, another ordinary, simple human being just like you.  You might also want to share your thoughts with a friend. You might try rehearse a conversation and a dialogue with the one you want to forgive. You need not take this up in reality. You are only taking this up to cleanse your neurological system of toxicity. Just the process lived out vicariously helps a lot.

It is a slow, steady process. It requires persistence, faith in your abilities to succeed, and a certain mental discipline. It cannot be achieved in a day. It can be achieved the same way you acquire and build a new habit, or a new muscle.  The more such forgiveness muscles you build the stronger a human being and a leader you become. Just like a good fitness regime that needs to be supported by a good diet the ability to forgive requires that you choose your thoughts, words and actions again and again. When you find yourself sinking into anger, resentful and depressive thoughts about a person or incident go for a walk, a run or a trek. Mind the choice of your words and conversations with others. The more recklessly you talk ill of others or of negative incidents the more they flourish and solidify in your own mind. We are all auto-telic. We have malleable brains and we shape them by will, thought and behavior. We become what we constantly think about. Think about being angry and upset over a past grudge and you become a depressed and angry person all across.

  • Leadership is about being aware, being agile, and grasping moments that will innovate, change things.
  • Leadership is about journeying over a distance, over to a better place-a vision of a brighter future.
  • Leadership is about including others, millions of others, and enrolling them to move forward by moving yourself.

All this can be achieved with grace and with gumption. Grace to accept and gumption to let go. A leader, all leaders need to stay light and unburdened and they need to move on ahead with deliberation and purpose.

At the end of it all. At the end of all your striving and struggling if you are unable to let go of nasty, toxic memories; if you are unable to forgive others then forgive yourself for not being able to forgive others.

Alternatively, better still, start the whole forgiving process by forgiving yourself first. Yes!

When and How to use Why, or, How to Replace it with a What


Exactly a year ago, I wrote “STOP AT WHY: HOW GREAT COACHES INSPIRE SELF TRANSFORMATION,” and I left the question “When and How to use Why or How to replace it with a What?”

So, just to recap;

  • When you use “why” you hit the rock bottom of your client’s beliefs.


  • When you use “why” you challenge their deep set values.
  • When you use “why” you enter the zone of their conscious and unconscious programs.
  • When you use “why” you, often, challenge their personal charades or “rackets” as some schools of thoughts like to call it.
  • When you use “why” you are, often, throwing them into an arena where they can get defensive.

Of course all these do not count if you have acquired massive and loving trust where the client is open and feels absolutely safe with you or, if the client is high on self-consciousness and open to being coached.

Now to work into the ability of how to replace “why” with a less edgy, less sharp “what” or a “how.”

Let’s take a very simple example of “Why are you late?”

You’d get a response of “because I…yadi, yadi, ya!” Or, worse, you may get “What’s it to you?”

Now try replacing “Why are you late?” with…

“Traffic on the streets?” This will give you a yes or a no. If you get a “yes” you get labelled as “understanding” and he/she relaxes, smiles and unwinds. If you get a “no” then the fact that you gave him/her an option out will be followed with the real reasons that made him/her come late.

Now, let’s take a much complex and a serious example of “Why are you always late?”

This one is bound to push all the red buttons and he/she can give you hell in return. So be cautious and replace “Why are you always late?” with something that gets you the answers you need without cornering your client and, often, empowering them a bit. Here are the options;

  • You have been late often recently, what are the reasons?
  • What has been making you come late these last few days?
  • Any ideas on how you can make it on time for these meetings?
  • And, a supportive one, anyway we can help you come on time?

You get the drift?

As a coach and a business leader, or even a supportive parent, it takes time an effort to refrain from using “why” carelessly and by default. It takes deeper mental effort and time to think through your query and reframe it in such a manner that it draws no blood, so to say.

Beyond just taking effort and time, it also requires a long-term dedication to changing the way you communicate and lead others. It takes practice, and it takes patience, and it takes powerful intention to coach and empower others benignly.

Using “How” and “What” instead of a “Why” is like shaving with the grain rather than against it. It converts relationship friction into traction. So spend a little time every time to flip your “Why” into a “How” or a “What,” it’ll do you and your relationships a ton of good.

Those are my ideas on why not to ask why often.

Article inspired by my book, the HeART of the CLOSE, which contains a section on sales coaching.  Further work on Appreciative Inquiry is taken up in my workshops on Appreciative Leadership.                                Facebook/Raju Mandhyan                                LinkedIn/ Raju Mandhyan                                the HeART of CLOSE                               the HeART of STORY                                Amazon all Books


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Coaching Is the Air I Breathe

When coaching, I lean in heavily on the values in words like appreciation, congruence and positive intention.

Let me explain: Our minds, the minds of others and the world we live in are a constant state of flux. One second we hold a thought, an idea or an image and the in the next second it is gone. It’s like we are frenetically sifting through thousands of images, audios and feelings.

To drive change, to achieve progress our intellect needs to take charge, stay in charge while respecting and acknowledging the needs of our frenzied minds.

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Sales Coaching, a Calling

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The real value underlying coaching others, especially your sales teams, is the fact that while you are helping, guiding and nurturing others into being their own best and unleashing personal resources for personal success, is that you as a coach, as a leader learn thrice as much. These are just three of the things that happen to YOU when you coach others:

  • Your own insights into the finer nuances of selling skills multiply exponentially.
  • You become a more cautious and a careful person and develop an uncanny ability into seeing what others need, what others say and how others express themselves.
  • You also learn to assimilate information in a dynamic and a holistic way.

Read more

I hate brocolli!

I hate brocolli! I hate the sight of it. I hate it’s name. “Brocolli?” What is that? It sounds like some tropical disease. Like, “He’s got brocolli between his toes. She’s got brocolli in her armpits.  But then again, we do know its good for us. Its green and healthy for our insides and for our cancer fighting cells. And, some claim, it adds and multiplies brain cells.

Similarly, in my work-life there are things that I know that there are things we must do which will be good for us. Like learning to and keeping proper accounts. Learning to and keeping proper records and files of projects and programs. And, for professionals and small business owners like me, learning to build an active website and sustaining, nurturing it over time.

I hate brocolli!

I hate brocolli!

I knew this. I was told this, many a times, years ago by colleagues and friends in the industry and yet I kept thinking _assigning this to a professional or a professional team would be the smart thing to do. And, boy was I ever wrong! Nearly every other year, I’d look for to outsource this work and they’d come back and pick my brain, have me do the thinking, the brainstorming and making the website work for me and my business. ” At first I was doling out money in spades and getting aesthetically impressive returns. Then I tightened my fist and began to get function but no charm and no ease. All through, in the back of my head, I kept thinking…”I wish I was computer savvy. I wish I understood the internet as well as they do. I wish I were Generation X or Y or Z. I wish I weren’t a late-bloomimg baby boomer baby! Grrr!

Website building, maintenance and the world of internet marketing loomed over me like a huge clump of rotting brocolli.

Yet, a small voice kept telling me, “Go ahead, take a bite and start chewing. Go ahead, roll up and your sleeves, tie a nappy around your neck and dig in!

So, two week ago, I rolled up my sleeves, put a nappy around my neck, put on my reading glasses, plugged in the earphones and hauled my lap top closer to me and began clicking, punching, rewinding, undoing, doing, highlighting, reading, taking a power nap in between, and clicking, punching, rewinding, undoing, doing, highlighting, reading, listening until it began to make sense, until it began to take shape.

What you are browsing through right now is a still a rough draft, a skeleton of what is yet to come and grow. In essence, not only am I learning to eat my brocolli but I am also learning to plant, grow and make it flourish organically. That’s the way to go when it comes to learning and succeeding at something you consider hard and something that you figure you can set aside and a let divine intervention resolve it for you. No sirree! It doesn’t happen that way.

Can this same principle be applied for accounting, book-keeping and or maintaining records. Yes!
Nothing is more empowering and liberating than tackling any and all kinds of huge, ugly brocolli clouds that loom over you and slow you down. Hate that brocolli? Eat it first! It’s good for your soul;)

Inner Sun

An Unbalanced Life.

Most everyone is focused on living a balanced life. What exactly is a balanced life? Twenty fours divided equally between work, play, family, personal needs and service to the world? Or, is it stress at work, peace at home?