Can we build-up a productive and sustained industrial relations?


Hypocrisy is what is observed these days, in the name of decency and tolerance, and the key source of most IR trouble.

George Orwell once said about hypocrisy, “He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.” Hypocrisy is what is observed these days, in the name of decency and tolerance. Both decency and tolerance are being misused and misguided by people with vested interests. The laws of nature are intelligent and straightforward – ‘cause and effect’, ‘do or die’, ‘survival of fittest’ etc. If a lion in the jungle is hungry, it will hunt a deer down, else it will roam around merely.

In the modern world, our egos are making us complexly un-natural. Straightfowardness, plain speaking in communication is viewed awkwardly. Shannon L. Alder referred to this, when he noted, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t being said. The art of reading between the lines is a lifelong quest of the wise.”

Such hypocrisies do not foster respect in relationships. Expressively as we try to fool others, forgetting what Abraham Lincoln wisely summed up as, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” In my opinion, the truth according to nature can be further specified as, ‘you can fool only some of the people for some of the time. But you cannot fool some people for all the time or all people at any point of time’. And we are governed by the natural sciences that ensure justice for all through its own mechanisms.

Natural laws apply to all in the same manner. However, the impact varies depending on the time, location and individuals. Even if the time and location are the same, the impact can be different in the case of different people owing to their individual differences. For the same person in the exact location, the impact can be different depending on the time It is because of these variables that it is difficult to ascertain the exact impact of nature. It is this dilemma that gives advantage to a shrewd person to manipulate the interpretations to his favour. A shrewder person can create a different interpretation against the same fact.

Simplicity is a behaviour acquired through simple natural grooming. Shrewdness is an acquired behaviour developed through complex grooming. Complex grooming is the offset of gradual development of social complexities arising out of unbridled division of limited resources. Over population while the resources are limited is the main reason behind complex grooming. Natural truth is a factually straight communication, which may come across as unpleasant to different people. Hypocrisy usually evolves from the cumulative impact of need, greed and fear. Therefore, hypocrisy as camouflaged truth has become an oft used tool, as it comes across as pleasant. Nevertheless, truth prevails eventually and shames the hypocrite.

In fact, hypocrisy is a tool employed by weak characters, by people who do not have the courage to speak a truth upfront. Blaming a situation to justify hypocrisy is again weak mindedness. Beliefs and habits generate hypocrisy, not situations. Given the same situation, a truthful person and hypocrite will behave in different fashions; while the truthful one will establish his credentials, the hypocrite shades away his individuality.

Like any other human relationship, industrial relation too is a straight business. Everybody knows one’s credentials, reliable or unreliable, the way one has established them through one’s behaviour. But the question is simple, does one walk the talk? Whom are we fooling? Our gestures and our true aura are constantly being projected and in communication with others to influence each other subconsciously. Our intent gets communicated faster than our physical words.

To begin with, at most of the places, industrial relations start with the bullish unreasonableness. The super ego of the senior makes him dictatorial towards his the juniors, whom he possibly treats as bonded labour. This treatment continues till it is resisted back. When a passive resistance starts from the junior’s side, the boss takes it as an affront to his ego. This affront to his inflated ego causes him to either push others away. In some cases, it does puncture his ego considerably. In either case, it becomes counterproductive. These ego clashes keep spiralling into an endless win-lose game. Eventually these win-lose games end up being a lose-lose situation for the parties involved. Both parties walk away empty handed, one fool flagging his hand high towards complacency, and the other one down towards a revengeful comeback. The game continues with its ups & downs. Therefore, for a sustained industrial relationship there is a need for self-restraint from both the sides.

P H Singh

Self-discipline is important for human beings both to be physically fit and to maintain fit social relations. Self-discipline helps us balance our metabolic consumption, and ensures our physical fitness. In the same way, self-discipline is needed to balance our social transactions and ensure our ‘social fitness’. We cannot take more than our contribution to the society. Taking more is a greedy accumulation which damages our reputation. Taking less is a sacrifice which may starve the system to collapse. Similarly, disproportionate benefits cause indiscipline in the society, over feeding generates complacency, and poor feeding creates a revolt, both heading towards poor productivity.

Balancing these transactions is a self-discipline, which is synonymous to the ‘truth’ in effect. Truth is the only universal reality. That is why Gandhi Ji used to call Truth as God. Warren W. Wiersbe comments about truth in social transaction saying, “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”

Another dimension of hypocrisy presupposes that the other person is unaware or less smart. How can one be sure of it? One’s assumptions can go wrong simply because we are not omniscient. Then, the only option we have to be truthful. Truthfulness has the right energy, which gets communicated sooner or later.

Is there any other way to build-up a productive and sustained industrial relations (IR)? ‘Beg, borrow, steal’ is a short-sighted policy of few ones to rule upon all others. The sustained practice is to build an environment where truth is appreciated and everyone is and is encouraged to be truthful. Since the prima facie premise of hypocrisy is disbelief, to alienate it, the union leaders and HR managers must work with each other through mutual understanding and respect, to strengthen each other, and to establish effectively sustained mechanisms of disciplined IR responses. One should not be afraid of the content. If one’s basics and intent is right, the content and interpretations go corrected subconsciously.

(The author is plant HR head, Hero Motocorp.)


  1. This is an amazing piece of wisdom on organizational culture and leadership.
    It holds a mirror just not for IR but for lot many corporate’s today who practice different talks for different walks.
    I quite appreciated the piece of Hypocrisy and Self Discipline.

  2. What truth coming from a professional manger -Hero of heroes.
    That such people are tucked away in the deep interiors of private enterprise is a proud reality for India. But who is going to bring such non-hypocrites whose faces are as pure as pure can be- onto the front stage of national development?
    Prof. Parthosarothy Sengupta

  3. I feel …In a simple way virtuous character or an act or Hypocrisy is matters only when someone’s attitude or behavioral factors affects the environment in an organization.

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