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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016
Shilpa Bhasin Mehra

Quid pro quo (From the Latin meaning "this for that") indicates a more-or-less equal exchange or substitution of goods or services. English speakers often use the term to mean "a favour for a favour" and the phrases with almost identical meaning include: "what for what", "give and take", "tit for tat", "this for that", and "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours".

A favourite line that we write in all our correspondence is 'at your convenience', or 'at a mutually convenient time and place' and such other expressions depicting reciprocity. In real life, we have no patience for the same. The phone we have is meant for our use and convenience and not the caller's, yet see the impatience and even anger of people when they cannot connect with you.

If I was an operator or my job entailed me to be available 24/7 that would be a different story. Demands of the job, period! But I am not. I have a free will and will not be at your service at your convenience. I could be in a meeting, in the gym or asleep. Technology is for our ease and not to drive us crazy. The tolerance of people is decreasing with the instantaneous means of communication. From the mobile, it came to the flying sms era and now the BBM. The avenues of escape from this technology are very slim. But it boils down to dealing with technology sensibly. We could either become a slave to it or befriend it to our advantage. For this discipline is needed. We don't have to check emails every minute and reply to them while our coffee gets cold. We don't have to take every call that comes. The world did exist before this supersonic technology and quite well too and a lot was accomplished.

Like I said, a bit of discipline is needed. Like this time is my time for doing x, y and z and I don't want to be disturbed. I respect the time table of others and their need for privacy and would urge them to do the same. That is reciprocity, and not the polite but meaningless phrase of "mutual convenience".

I know of some people who get angry when you don't answer their messages or calls on an urgent basis, but are so laid back when they have to revert. The irony is that, they just don't believe in any RSVP themselves. How about applying the same standards to yourself? I think they need a taste of their own medicine, so that they know how annoying it is when others are waiting for their answer.

Mutual respect is imperative in any relation, and the operative word here is 'mutual'. We have to respect the other person's privacy, time and space and would rightfully expect the same. Relations often get sour, when this respect is not reciprocated. In today's world of hurry, people are only interested in getting their work done. At that time, they will be honey sweet to the others, but the moment their work is over, they don't have the time to even say a hello. What they don't realize is that relations are nurtured over a period of time in order to be long lasting; it's not about getting a single job done. If you happen to be a fly by night operator, be prepared if your call is not answered the next time.

The funny thing about mutual respect is that you can not control it. Sure, you can control whether or not you exercise on a regular basis, whether you control your temper, or whether or not you express respect to others, but mutual respect implies that two or more persons have respect for each other, and as unfortunate as it may seem at times, you can never control when and where others decide to show you respect. So, perhaps the question should be: "How can I encourage mutual respect?"

Whether in a law firm, any workplace, home or with friends - follow some simple rules - communicate with colleagues, share the success, do your own work and do it well, respect the others, be a team player, have some patience and take responsibility for your job. It just boils down to one thing. Do you remember the "golden rule"? "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!"

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