A small flashback:
It was 2008. I was working in a BPO as Quality Analyst. My job responsibility was to find errors, identify the people who did those errors and give feedback to them. We used various tools and techniques to identify errors and ensure quality. But I was young and naive. I used the feedback session to make people feel bad. I was toxic and I took pleasure in making people tremble to be in a feedback session with me as I shouted at them for no reason. My then manager saw one of such sessions and gave me a good dressing down. “Brags, use this concept called 5 whys. Just by shouting at people you are not doing any good and you look petty. Find the root cause of the problem. Now they just fear your position. When you understand their difficulties and make them error free, then they will respect you.”
I had misunderstood the fear as respect. 5 Why is a simple concept. We repeat the question why five times and find the root cause of the problem.
Why did you miss to capture that detail?
I didn’t notice sir.
Really? That is so unlike you. Why didn’t you notice it?
It was one of the first forms I did in the shift sir. I was still hazy from the early morning ride in the office van
Why were you hazy? You have taken this shift for two years and there were no such errors?
We reached home late yesterday sir. I was the last to be dropped and first to be picked.
Why were you late? Aren’t you using office cab facility?
The tire got punctured on the way home sir
Why did the tire get punctured?
Not sure sir. I think the driver didn’t check the air pressure in tires before we started the trip.
As a corrective action, we give instruction to the processor to be more careful, take their time while processing etc and as a preventive action we will give instruction to admin team to make sure the vehicles are in the best condition before they took off from the office. This methodology did two things. This made me friends with the processors as I didn’t blame them solely for the errors we were getting. Hence I was notified anomalies and prevented a lot of errors. Second it taught me empathy. I understood that the situations are not the same for two people even when they are in the same place at the same time.
Back to 2022
As I have learned, it is not easy being a toddler in a household where everybody is holding some baggages. Since the toddler is the most vulnerable in the household, he/she has to bear the brunt of the mood swings of the adults. Little V was in that position for three and half years. He was scolded for everything and was pampered for no reason at all. This hot and cold treatments had made him a very confused kid. He wasn’t sure what would get him scoldings or sweets. He became a people pleaser.
After marriage, he had trouble accepting new environment. He was a very light sleeper and would be awake for a long time. And since I had no experience in parenting I found running around him in the day very tiring. His mom A, was shouting at him for being very playful around me and making me tired.
That night I woke up to a loud thud and I saw little V coming back to the bed room vigorously scratching his forehead. In the dim light, I could see a small bulge. I didn’t want to freak my wife out and asked her to be calm till I talk to him. Next morning, we had this talk.
Me : Why are you having that bulge?
V : I knocked myself in the bathroom door handle.
Me: Why didn’t you see it?
V : I didn’t switch on the light and I was drowsy
Me : Why didn’t you switch on the light.
V : I am a small baby no, I couldn’t reach the switch
Me : Why didn’t you wake me up?
V : Mom said in the evening, that I made you tired by making you run around me. I didn’t want to disturb you.
I didn’t know what to say. V was just five years old and he was able to recall what his mother said in the afternoon, and knew to act on his own without disturbing anyone. I assured him he can always wake me up if he needs me. He just smiled and nodded.
When he was about to run to his colouring book, I asked him “Why did you think about my tiredness and all? You needed me right?”
He thought for a bit and then said “Because I love you pa.” and ran away.
Sometimes to know the root cause, one why is enough.