Friday, April 25, 2008

Stay Cool

The atmosphere in the room was tense to say the least. I was in a meeting discussing certain decisions that we had to take recently in the product. One person in my team were not happy with the way things were going. I knew that we were doing the right thing in the long term for the product, and was attempting to reach out to him and explain the reasoning behind the way we were approaching the problem. But he was just ranting at this point, lacing his responses with heavy sarcasm. Now Google is an intense environment but rarely have I seen folks lose their cool. There is a lot of discussion, and hashing out of solutions through arguments and discussions, but never this way. At that point, the one thing that was going on in my mind was "Stay Cool".

It is how we react under intense situations that defines us. We can all be genial, happy, smart and cool when the going is good. It is way harder to do that when your decision making skills are under question, and you feel as if you are in the middle of an inquisition.

As the discussion moved on, I kept my head up and kept answering his questions. You could cut the tension in the air with a knife, and I knew I was getting angrier at every step as the discussion dragged on. Thankfully the meeting ended. I got up and went for a long long walk, cleared up head, calmed down and headed back to work.
Soon I found out that the person had gone through a very tough time lately. A few days later, I approached him and we sat down and sorted out the issue.

In work, board meetings, team meetings, negotiations, and in many other situations, there are constantly conflict points in a discussion. One could get defensive and lose one's composure, or one could take it lying down and suck it up. But there may be a third way. Be firm, be logical about your opinion, respectful and lastly, dignified. In all, just stay cool.
You will not only be respected a lot more, you will also sound consistent and more credible.

PS: Don't try this in personal situations. Logic does not work there!

16 comments:

curt said...

Hi Punit,
thank you very much for this post. I've found out recently, that I should have controlled my reactions in communication with other people around me, much better. I thought, I was good at this topic, but realized in real case, I am still far from being controlled enough.
You really wrote it so well and encouraging.

Anonymous said...

How about changing the title of the blog to 'Adventures in Googleplex' ?

Punit Soni's Adventures in VCland said...

So firstly, thanks for your response Curt. No matter how much read or write about this, it is incredibly hard to do when you are in first person dealing with this situation.
About the title change..I have been contemplating it for a while. Wouldn't do Googleplex...what would happen once I leave here? Another change :)
Need to think of something more generic!
hmm....

Anonymous said...

i like the way you end your post with the post script! its dam cool!!

Punit Soni's Adventures in VCland said...

Thanks a ton Anon.

SSL said...

Oops Punit..did you hint that you will ever leave Google for another job?

Punit Soni's Adventures in VCland said...

I would guess that there is a fair chance of that happening at some point in the future...:)
Though I cant imagine it could be another public company.

RashmiSethi said...

Hi Punit,

Nice post. Stumbled upon it while googling for 'product manager at Google'. Well said STAY COOL and it is test of time when the going is tough...also like your style of writing!

Punit Soni's Adventures in VCland said...

Thanks Rashmi!

Sigma said...

Nice post. And liked the PS :-)
True ... true ... getting angry does not solve any problems. Though I feel that it is only with experience that you your learn to control your anger and stay cool in tough situations. In ones younger days one tends to give vent to feelings :-)
- Shalini M

Rashmi said...

Hey!

I am new to our blog and found it pretty interesting! I am a recent MBA grad from India and am very keen to explore a role similar to yours at Google. Could I possibly pick your thoughts on how to best go about it?

thanks!
Rashmi

Punit Soni's Adventures in VCland said...

sure..email me directly.

Anonymous said...

Punit, Good blog and hope your VC dream is realised soon.I read somewhere that Google is coming up with a Venture Fund. Anyway you are better informed.

I am technology professional looking to pursue an MBA and am a role switcher, not career switcher. I know Business development, Corp Fin, Product Manager at peripheral level. I dont know what they do every day. Product Manager, I know a little bit. Where can I find more about this. Any inputs would be helpful

Punit Soni's Adventures in VCland said...

email me directly and I will try to help

sumi said...

Hey Punit,
It is very interesting that you could be vocal about incidents like this which most people do not know how to handle in positive manner.This post is of particular interest to me because I actually quit my job and moved to bay area few months ago to build a product helping people to navigate these kind of situations.
-Sumi

Punit Soni's Adventures in VCland said...

Very interesting Sumi. Do stay in touch and let me know how your product comes along...