IR: Fundamentals and aberrations


Honest communication touches the heart directly.

Executive fundamentals and aberrations of industrial relation practices are ‘the’ cause for making or marring IR agility. Things don’t just organise or disorganise themselves. The concept of ‘organised complexity’ is a subjective term. It does not work at the macro level. The form of life materialises from the repeated forces at work—ideas, laws and guiding principles. These repeated instructions manifest themselves in patterns, and then these patterns transform into forms. Our Universe, and we as a part of it, work the same way. Hence, the IR managers must continue to be alert and be aware of certain fundamentals and expected aberrations in order to maintain a smooth IR.

IR is all about relationships. To keep the relationship plausible and lively, one must keep relating, even in times of strain. There is a very famous ghazal of Nida Fazli, ‘Dushmani laakh sahi, khatm na kijiye rishta, Dil mile na mile haath milate rahiye’. Believing and believability is fundamental for better plausibility. Compassion is the strongest force in ensuring believability. Thus, for better IR one must be compassionate and unbiased.

Respectfulness seems to be the first fundamental of IR. Most of us are groomed in a culture that teaches us to respect the person who is at a higher level in terms of age, qualification, skill, status, ethnicity, position or experience, and primarily in social relationships. A broadminded person is always respectful to one and all, beyond the boundaries of these comparative levels. Such humble people fall into the category of real gentlemen, and are therefore respected and listened to by people.

Respect begets respect; it cannot be demanded. But, it is a very sensitive venture, because you can never know the current sensitivity level of the person you are dealing with. This fluctuates from person to person, situation to situation, and mood to mood. Sometimes our own sensitivity may be perceived as hypocrisy. But still, one must continue to be genuine at heart, while behaving respectful to others. The genuine heart has its own subtle way of communicating with other hearts, which is the subliminal science we are built up with naturally.

When it comes to IR dialogues and discussions, the tone and words have a significant contribution to the success or failure. Nobody likes an embarrassing truth, hypocrisy, or a camouflaged lie. Everyone enjoys honest communication, simply because it subtly goes straight to the heart. Anyone who thinks himself smarter than the other person, is prone to meet with disgrace, simply because others may be equally or more smarter.

One must be cautious and meticulous through spoken words, required tempers and perceivable gesture. Even to respond to a common formal gesture, such as ‘How are you?’, depending upon one’s mood and intent one may just keep mum, or nod a bit, or say; ‘I am fine, thanks!’, or ‘still fine’, ‘depends upon you’, ‘always fine’, ‘how does it matter to you?’, ‘not well’, ‘mind your business’, ‘no one can be fine in this scenario’, etc. Every expression and word in these responses has its different sensitivity and expectations to be attended to.

Once, in one of my previous factories, at a trivial shop floor issue, some union leaders suddenly gathered, and a demonstration began in front of the plant office. As usual, the slogan shouting started. On getting the information I obviously proceeded towards the spot. Seeing me approach, their tempo and pitch increased. One of them in the front was aberrantly vibrant. He was shouting at the top of his voice with a wobbling body and hot red face. He was literally jumping around—an unusual action at such a juncture. I could sense that there was something wrong with this person in particular.

Ignoring the others, I coolly walked straight down to that particular worker. Standing in front of him, in a humble voice of concern, I repeatedly suggested to him that he should cool down. He did not listen, and continued to shout. I requested his colleagues standing near him to make him stable to avoid a surge in his blood pressure, or any other physical complications. But he did not calm down.

Touching his shoulder, head and face, tenderly I repeatedly uttered the word ‘Relax, Relax, Relax……’! Gradually, he started responding and began to get stable. Then, holding his shoulder I made him sit with me on a wooden plank nearby. I asked someone to bring water for him, which he drank and immediately cooled down.

This approach/gesture on my part distracted the crowd from the agitation, and soon tempers had ebbed to a cool and informal chat. Gradually, I took the leaders to my office for further discussions, and all others went to back to work.

I have always found that genuineness makes us a winner for sure. However, sometimes, due to our own hurried and premature assumptions, we may fail to understand the right time, right place or right gain. But, the fact of life is that our Universe works on the principle of ‘cause & effect’, and so do we.

Hypocrisy, hypothesis, assumptions, manipulations, untruth, half-truth, insubordination, disrespect, exaggeration, underplay, humiliation, disbelief, unfaithfulness, contradiction, denial, arrogance, withdrawal, ignorance, firmness, fairness, and so on are all subjected to ‘cause & effect’. While using these, one must be ready to face the related consequences, good or bad, sooner or later, divided or collectively, in proportion. Here, I would like to share a quote by someone, “When truth suffers, the collective consciousness of society suffers.”

Biasness is a natural magnitude to the extent of survival, but the vested interest and challenges block its legitimacy. However, the good part of the story is that the challengers hypothesise and challenge mainly on the basis of immediate reckonable gains and prejudices. Yet, through our professional initiatives, we have all the ethical values to our advantage towards enduring gains. Biased thoughts have no meaning. One can be said to be biased only if one tries to obtain undue gain out of it.

All due gains are justified through contribution in any constructive form. That is a form of ‘conversion of energy’ and matter from one form to another form, without manipulation in the natural creativity chain. “Good things happen if the chemistry is right”. Thus, if a system is defined or amended, its loop must be closed, to make the system run effectively. Same is the case with the administrative decisions and executions under IR. An open-ended system is prone to becoming an ever changing chaos through the biased whims and fancies of the dominating operators. Thus, the following fundamentals and aberrations must be kept in mind for the success of IR.

? ‘Right’ does not lead to ‘duty’ on its own. it is our performed duties that create our rights. Any demand as right without performing the corresponding duty by either party is an aberration.

? Wage structure, benefits, compensations, increments, promotions, bonus, incentives, profit sharing, and soon, must be defined and clearly linked to individual performance and level of contribution to the kitty. Discrepancies lead towards deformities in the IR.

? Legal compliances must be strictly adhered to. Any tweaking around to increase or reduce the benefits sets a long-lasting precedence of getting manipulated under greed or pressure towards growing exploitation.

? Unionisation is a human and legal right that must be respected by all. However, it is the duty of all concerned to refrain from exploiting the concept through muscle or emotive power. Gandhian thought on unionisation and collective bargaining must be taught to all relevant people in unions and management.

? Negotiations, collective bargaining, and so on are to be honored within a long-term win-win perspective. Any reconciliation to achieve short-term gains creates a precedence, which affects long-term issues, must be used cautiously with well-defined checks and balances.


  1. Very aptly described basic IR framework . I strongly believe that edifice of IR lies in Strong interpersonal/Healthy relationship and non-partisan approach apart from balancing the role of management and Union by HR

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