Work lessons! Here"s how to play it cool in the office

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi at the recently concluded Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi at the recently concluded Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan

For all under-rock dwellers, a few days ago, tennis stalwart Leander Paes called out Mahesh Bhupathi for dropping him for the match against Uzbekistan in the Davis Cup tie. Paes and Rohan Bopanna were reserve players, and Paes claimed that Bhupathi unfairly chose rank over form by picking Bopanna. Bhupathi maintained a stoic silence, and it was only after India won the tie that he presented his side on social media, saying that he had been fair and honest. Now, Paes and Bhupathi have had their on-off feuds for years together, but this time, things may have gone too far.

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, a happier frame from their younger days while on tour.
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, a happier frame from their younger days while on tour.

The problem of personal politics rearing its ugly head into the professional space happens all the time, be it on the court or in an office. Victory coach Farzana Suri feels this happens because we spend a large part of our lives at work. Here’s what you can do to handle a friend-fallout at work better.

Don’t be a sore loser

Suri cites the example of one of her Mumbai-based clients, Rekha Pradhan* who worked in sales with a close friend Amrita Seth*. One fine day, Amrita was given charge of a huge brand, not Rekha. This greatly rattled Rekha but she chose to pretend to be delighted for Amrita, who assumed all was okay while Rekha slowly began distancing herself. It soured their equation because in her head, Rekha was the victim and Amrita, insensitive.

What you’d rather do: Just as Paes could have accepted that Bopanna was picked over him, Rekha could have taken the graceful way out. Neither of them did, which is why Paes looked like a sore loser when India ultimately defeated Uzbekistan, while Rekha eventually quit her job.

Do not wash your dirty linen in public
Just ahead of the Davis Cup tie match with Uzbekistan on April 7, Paes was quoted saying that he felt the selection criteria ought to have been more transparent, and suggested that he wasn’t directly informed of having been dropped.

What you’d rather do: Never react instantly. Let some time pass before you arrive at a conclusion and/or react publicly. Sure, like Paes, you may initially get the satisfaction of playing victim, but sooner or later, the counterview will hit you in the face.

Be mature; it has been a long relationship after all
Paes and Bhupathi have been playing (and fighting) for nearly two decades now. The duo played some of the best doubles’ tennis India has seen for four years straight, which is why one wishes the current situation was handled in a better manner.

What you’d rather do: If it’s someone you’ve had a long-standing association with, take that into account. Think dispassionately whether this person would be unfair to you before reacting. Bhupathi is the captain, and the country’s performance matters most to him in any tournament. Paes could have trusted this and kept mum.

Paes and Bhupathi have won three Grand Slam titles together
Paes and Bhupathi have won three Grand Slam titles together

Don’t be afraid to confront
Two close friends, Aditi Patel* and Avantika Swamy*, worked for a publication. All was perfect until one fateful day of appraisals. Avantika didn’t receive a pay hike/promotion and assumed that Aditi, who was a rung higher, had conveyed to the boss that she wasn’t contributing as much. Avantika began giving Aditi the cold
shoulder without ever confronting her.

Their friendship waned, and the final nail in the coffin came when Avantika magnanimously suggested they let bygones be. Aditi couldn’t. She didn’t know what the bygones had been.

What you’d rather do: Once you’re over the initial irritation, have a conversation. It’s important to put your feelings out there because the other person may have an explanation you wouldn’t have considered. Letting the resentment fester within will only affect your work and lead to diatribes on social media or statements to the press. Ultimately, be mature and get on with what you’ve been hired for.

Friend, foe or neither?

Karan Johar and Kareena Kapoor
Karan Johar and Kareena Kapoor

For the cameras
Kareena Kapoor played the diva-bimbette to Poo-perfection in Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham, but when Karan Johar approached her for Kal Ho Naa Ho, she apparently asked him for a spectacularly high fee. The film ultimately went to Preity Zinta, and while Kapoor and Johar are still friends (if subsequent seasons of Koffee With Karan are anything to go by, as she often laments on the couch), he hasn’t cast her in any venture since. An apology may have helped, or forgiveness and letting go on Johar’s part.

Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin
Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin

The facebook founders’ feud
In 2003, Harvard sophomore Mark Zuckerberg asked his friend, student Eduardo Saverin to invest in his social media website The Facebook. The site was a hit after it started in 2004. Things got sour when Saverin launched his job website Joboozle and ran ads on Facebook for free. Since Zuckerberg was planning to branch out into jobs, he felt betrayed. Zuckerberg needed Saverin as founding investor to sign off the reformation of Facebook under Delaware law before they got new investors on board. When Saverin delayed this, Zuckerberg ultimately booted him out of the company in an underhanded manner in 2005.

Farzana Suri
Farzana Suri

The three-step solution

  • Think hard about the value that the friendship holds in your life before jumping to conclusions.

  • Calm down. Confront the person but also listen.

  • Reach a resolution. Forgive or apologise to the person after the confrontation, and then let it go.


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