Here We Start – Issue # 31

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah, founder of Sail Publishing, a digital publishing house for online magazines and ebooks, and editor in chief of the Emirati Sail Magazine, an online magazine about community and culture written in English by Emirati columnists. Iman is a multi award winner in digital publishing, entrepreneurship, and literature. Iman has also completed the Leadership Strategies in Magazine Media Course in Yale University. Besides her work in publishing, she also lectures in Canadian University in Dubai.
Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Dear Sail Readers,

Here is the content of our 31st issue – October 2012:

Enjoy the reads and illustrations!

Warm Regards,
Iman Ben Chaibah
Editor in Chief

Advice: Say it Nicely, or Don’t Say it at All

Hamda Al Hashemi (@Hamda_alhashemi)

Column: Art of Living 101. Previously as: Living Through The Eyes of Art
Hamda AlHashemi is a 20 something year old interior design graduate, and an SZHP employee. She appreciates art, food, psychology and culture. For her, Arabic calligraphy is music for the eyes; beautiful and calming. She thrives to become an entrepreneur of her own furniture line and aims to get her Phd on the long run. Hamda’s articles revolve around how our psychological thoughts influence our actions, and how to use them to our advantage.

Latest posts by Hamda Al Hashemi (@Hamda_alhashemi) (see all)

Logan P. Smith, essayist and critic once said: It takes a great man to give sound advice tactfully. One of the things that are vital for the development and improvement of each and every individual is advice. Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that many people nowadays tend to give advice in the most offensive and aggressive manner. If this is how people will give advice from now on, then no one will ever benefit from it.

To elaborate more, an Emirati designer recently used a traditional element in her shoe design with the intention of promoting it and showing how much she’s proud of it. Whether or not she succeeded with her intentions is not relevant to the topic, but the reaction of our society is. People called her & her family with names, and they cursed her, her design, and work.

When did we reach a state where people would turn against each other because of a misunderstanding? The designer, for instance, did not commit a crime; and even if her design was against what the some finds appropriate she deserves a “gentle” advice, not a brutal verbal attack. The people who fought her probably didn’t even know that her shoe design was only for exhibition purposes, and wasn’t meant to be worn. That method only spawned hatred and detestation and no one will ever be receptive to such advice.

“Most people when they come to you for advice, come to have their own opinions strengthened, not corrected.“ (Josh Billings). Whether we are the ones giving the advice or receiving it, we need to keep in mind that it is all a matter of opinion, and therefore, we need to be aware that our opinions can be wrong. So when we decide to share our opinions, we should be open to hearing out what the other side has to say.

When Van Gogh created his post-impressionist artwork, he was mocked. No one took his work seriously, and the only painting he ever sold was to his brother. And until now many people with no artistic knowledge look at his work and think it’s ridiculous. If you’d look at the difference between Van Gogh’s painting and James Hart’s painting below, you would realize that because Van Gogh came up with something so diverse than what was commonly known, he was rejected.

James McDougal Hart – Returning from Harvest 1870

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Nights, 1889

Who would have thought at that time that the work of the outcast who was so depressed and unfortunate that he blew up his ear, would sell for millions of dollars. We always judge people based on a criteria we made up on our own. But to others, those people whom we judge can look like stars. If we make insulting remarks, we are basically taking away those stars’ sparkle.

Yes, we are entitled to have our opinion and give it to others, but others are also entitled to have our respect. It’s more constructive to make your point while having an open mind. Sharing thoughts and ideas is a good thing, but there is no need for us to turn it into something despiteful and vulgar.

The Dumb Smartphone Investment

Ahmad Al Gergawi (@A_AlGergawi)

Ex-Column: Emirati Dimensions

Latest posts by Ahmad Al Gergawi (@A_AlGergawi) (see all)

Illustration by Fatma AlHashemi (@F_Fotography)

A shift has occurred in priorities where one prioritizes looking up his phone to see what new applications are there to download. Friends will hang out but do not converse at all, due to the important IM (instant messages) each one is getting. One has to understand that a smart phone is to be utilized, not idolized. I personally think it is extremely disrespectful to have a conversation with someone, and halfway through the conversation they check their smart phone for twitter or what ever reason.

“My life, my rules,” you will tell me, but isn’t it sad that you can’t spare a few hours with your friends without a gadget in your hand? One has put all his hopes and dreams onto his smart phone; his tasks, work email, private email, camera, social life, audio books, music, and contacts are all in this gadget. He might as well get a bed that appears out of the blue through some application. I can’t deny that the gadget craze has taken over me as well, that red light that blinks on the phone (in the case of blackberry) makes me curious the second I get a glimpse of it.

Has it become the norm for two people to sit together and not speak at all? Just to add a few comments and compliments in the awkward silence? Individuals are working on making their facebook, twitter, path, and other social media accounts more interesting than themselves; they are posting photos of where they are, the latest meal they had, the gift they got, and the people they love the most.

People tend to forget the meaning of the word privacy; you can even tell whether they are depressed, happy, scared, confused, or tired. It became easy to know their state of mind by seeing it bluntly written through their posts or their statuses. I only wonder what do they gain from exposing themselves in such a way, is this what self-expression is about nowadays? Because I thought people express themselves through their hobbies and interests.

People can express themselves through their photography, writing, painting, and much more. A smart phone connects people together, and it sure is fun to have some nice photos on the display picture, but exposing every detail of one’s life may become pathetic. Various social networks exist, but I don’t understand why people choose to cope with having so many social networking accounts; to them it becomes a task where the facebook page must be checked, twitter must be updated, who commented on my linkedin account, and am I the mayor yet for this area on foursquare, and so on. I feel people are pressuring themselves and trying too hard to use every social tool there is. The social media craze will only further people from reality and who they really are.

However the pros of social media are many and I’m not talking about the effectiveness of being connected and clichéd ideologies, I’m speaking of what has become on twitter the greatest gift anyone can offer. For example, I have long admired a person before ever reading their tweets or knew anything about them on social media websites, and I’ve even heard that this person is very respectful. Unfortunately, the end-result of this story is that I check their twitter page and realize their timeline is pathetic & accumulated with curses and ideas that are degrading.

You see on twitter individuals that would have influence on society and hold executive roles, but then you read their tweets and you wonder, how and why did this happen. The ability you have to pre-assess an individual from reading their tweets and whom they follow is one of the many advantages of social media.

The time we spend on our gadgets and social media accounts is all considered an investment of our time. For every investment you make, there will always be a compromise. Sometimes the compromise is worth the investment and sometimes it is not. We have become accustomed to a world where mothers invite their kids to lunch through IM and friends plan gatherings through social media “save the date” invite. Life is about creating change within our community, and that won’t come from staring at that gadget’s screen. The community is holding on tight to a technological sinking ship that has stripped us from valuing time, people, and life.

Contemplating the Ups and Downs of Life

Dubai Abulhoul (@DubaiAbulhoul)

Dubai is an Emirati girl with a passion for all things art. Her number one passion was to find a place between Emarati artists and filmmakers , and her dream turned into reality in 2008 , when she was officially named as the Middle East’s Youngest Director at the age of 11.

Latest posts by Dubai Abulhoul (@DubaiAbulhoul) (see all)

Illustration by Fatma AlHashemi (@F_Fotography)

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, ‘To be great is to be misunderstood’.  If we look at the predominant figures in history, we notice their absent need to conform.  We realize that the ones who dare to think outside the box are the ones who get a shot at achieving their dreams and ambitions. It’s one thing to dream, and it’s another to achieve. If there’s anything common between those who achieve, it’s their ability to defy their surroundings; be it family, friends, or even society itself.

Literature has always echoed tales of those who have been picked on by society for being different. The ‘round pegs in the square holes’ as the late Steve Jobs would call them. Society always asks for more than it gives, and I’ve noticed this element on Twitter. Many complain about how this generation lacks a lot of things, and when we try to change a few things, the world backfires on us. Take the Omar series for example. A group from the Arab world decided to showcase our history, in the most appropriate and respectful way. And what does society do? It starts a twitter hashtag to ban it of course.

It’s the fear of change that holds both society and people from moving forward and progressing. As much as society is supportive, it is not always open for change. The same idea can be reflected in school systems. We are taught what is ‘good’ and trying something different means ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’. The way I see it, in world driven by state exams and a very precise image of what ‘good’ is, ‘different’ might just be our only way to progress. There always was, and always will be, a certain criteria we should all fit into. There always was, and always will be, a person who dares to defy that image. That person is the one who succeeds at changing not only his or herself, but also the world. Ghandi once said, ‘Whatever you do in life would be insignificant, but it is important that you do it.’ If you are ‘different’, embrace yourself and get ready to take on the world.

Every individual has their ups and downs on the way to success. I always see this cycle as that of going on a Ferries wheel ride. We enter the cabins, start from the ground, and slowly ascend. As soon as we almost reach the very top, the cabin stops as we start to moan and complain. A few curses later, we ascend once more, finally satisfied. We then reach the very top, happy and jubilated, admiring the awesome view and the fresh air that made it’s way through our now racing hearts. We feel power, freedom; infinite freedom. Just when we feel at our very best, we start to descend with frowns plastered to our very faces. We reach the very ground, then go back up again; a massive shift in emotions. We must start from the very ground, to reach the very top. The ironic thing is that at some point we must go down again, and then little do we know, we’re back up again.

One must remember, that the Ferris wheel doesn’t move according to our desires. In life, it’s controlled by the one above, and we must trust that he’ll guide us through it all. I mean, the view would be worth the wait, don’t you think? And even if the Ferries wheel gets stuck right in the middle, it’s those who see the beauty of the journey that manage to really succeed and move forward. No pain, no gain.

Teaching Your Children Trust

Ayesha AlJanahi (@_AyeshaAlJanahi)

Ayesha AlJanahi (@_AyeshaAlJanahi)

Column: The First Years Last Forever
A loving mother of a son who has changed her life and put it into perspective. Ayesha is a senior social media specialist, a Global Leader for young children in the Arab region, and a writer in few Arabic publications. Her column is written in collaboration with the Arabian Child organization, and offers inspiration and an in-depth exploration of early childhood development.
Ayesha AlJanahi (@_AyeshaAlJanahi)

Latest posts by Ayesha AlJanahi (@_AyeshaAlJanahi) (see all)

Illustration by Fatma AlHashemi (@F_Fotography)

Trust is a skill to be learned and a choice to be made. Trust can be fragile when it is not handled with tender loving care while negligence, careless words, and cruel actions can destroy it.

Trust is like a mirror; once it’s broken you can never look at it the same again. “Trust is a fundamental human experience, necessary for society to function and for any person to be relatively happy.” (Good Therapy, 2012).

Children observe the models that are practiced by their families around them. They form their understanding of their world based on the subtle details and behaviors of their parents toward them and other adults around them. Parents who have difficulty trusting their own environments have difficulty teaching their children how to trust theirs.

As infants, a child’s first objective is not surprisingly to decide whether or not they should trust their caregiver. At this time, adults need to demonstrate that they will provide a nurturing, respecting environment, and respond to the infant’s various cries appropriately; cries that could be described as decoding a complex cipher for new parents.

However, parents who have experienced traumatic experience and constant betrayals have a difficult time re-establishing trust in all their relationships. They may react to their children with inconsistent behaviors, or try to mask their feelings. They may also be unable to maintain control over their emotions by overreacting or threatening their children if they misbehave.

What happens when parents are ambivalent about trusting their surroundings? Children’s resultant fear and uncertainty may persist in them as they grow. Parents who weren’t loving and trustworthy cannot teach a child to love and trust. The negative impact here is that children start to feel isolated, have low self-esteem, are unable to face uncertainty and have difficulty socializing with peers.

We shouldn’t allow our fears, emotional wounds or erroneous beliefs to become a habit in raising our children. We need to be aware of our own state of mind and personal feelings by intentionally making the decision to tame our fears and help our children feel safe and build their confidence in us and in themselves. This emotional stability will help them develop into resilient adults who can take on life’s challenges and have a positive attitude towards life and its many drawbacks.

Sometimes, as children, we remember our own parents sharing advice with us about our relationships with other children; “do not get close to this kid, she might cause you harm” or “Don’t pour out your feelings to anyone even then the closest, they might take you for granted”. Although it was with their best intentions, parents sometimes rely on advice that was handed down through generations rather than learning or developing their parenting skills by turning to the experts in the field.

Without trust life is scary, because it is the heartbeat of any relationship. Children should be taught how to trust wisely. Wisdom comes from taking the risk to socialize and trust others, while you know that you are likely to make some mistakes. Their trust should be based on the instinctive knowledge that no emotional state is guaranteed to last forever.

Written in collaboration with Arabian Child organization. Visit www.arabianchild.org for more information about early childhood education in the United Arab Emirates.

Finding the Balance Between Being Nice & Being Strict in the Workplace

Fatma AlKhaja (@fay_alkhaja)

Column: Observing the World, previous column: Too Blunt for Words
Fatma (Fay), Emirati girl, with an experience in Corporate Communications and CSR. She is passionate about anything that is traditional and Emirati. In her free time she loves to watch Japanese anime, read manga, and play videogames. Spas are not the only thing that relaxes her, but cooking as well.
Fay’s columns observe work-life experiences and balance. A lot of her articles are based on first-hand personal experiences and issues she has seen or been part of. She loves to observe her surroundings, and watch how people handle different situations they’ve been put in.Also, she is trying to balance the art of staying positive at work and helping her peers understand that not everything should be a problem. With her writings she hopes to make a difference and make people more observant of the little problems in life, or work that hasn’t escalated to a catastrophe. It’s the little things that matters.

Latest posts by Fatma AlKhaja (@fay_alkhaja) (see all)

Everyone has the tendency to be nice. Nice is good, but is there such thing as being too nice as a boss? What do I mean by this? A too nice of a boss means that he/she is always agreeable, always flexible, and always ‘okay’ with your work (regardless of missing deadlines, likenesses, etc…) I’ve heard this quite a lot in a working environment where employees comment on a certain individual that he/she is too nice.

I decided to do a little digging and find out more. Doing some research with Human Resources (HR), and checking some references. I found out that it is always the ‘nice’ bosses that have the worst employee team record which includes:

  1. 65% Late attendance
  2. 70% Absenteeism
  3. 35% Emergency leave during work, and etc…
  4. 80% Less work pressure
  5. 77% Missed deadlines

I, myself, was called a nice boss in my earlier work experience and noticed that my employees tend to play a bit more than everyone else. Being late was a tad bit more frequent, sudden step-outs of the office was also repetitive, in fact I noted a trend. I was even able to predict their outcomes, for example if one of the ladies came in without any makeup, started coughing, and announced every 10 minutes that they had a headache, I knew that the request to leave early was due any minute, and I also knew that I was not seeing that employee the day after as a text will be sent to me first thing in the morning informing me of their leave of absence.

Illustration by SYAC

What would you do in such a situation? Believe them? Accuse them of lying? Or simply let it go?

If you’re mandated by the HR in your organization to abide by the laws and regulations (policies) in your organization then for every employee being late and absent you (THE manager) will therefore be questioned. For example, in some work sectors you have to file a monthly report of your employees’ records on their achievements, timings, attendance, etc…

I have sat down with the employees, explained the policies, and even sent out some warning letter on lateness, yet still the same cycle goes on repeating itself. When I am harsh, and allow for my anger to rise, it is still the same reaction. Then what would you call this? Disrespect of authority?

To contradict myself, if I was a boss that’s too strict, I don’t think I want the employees to have an element of fear in the office either. It’s important that you maintain a good relationship with your employees, and have them fear you out of respect, yet not be petrified of you.

Let me give you an example, I was afraid of my boss. I didn’t dare go ask him to leave early to the bank (for emergency) because I’d rather let the emergency slide than bow down and hear him shout ‘no’ with a menacing glare, but is it worth it when I miss the emergency errand I really had to take?

This boss was not flexible under any circumstances. You had to be at work at 8am. You had to leave at 4pm sharp. You don’t work on weekends. If you’re out in a meeting, then you’re expected back in the office. I understand that some individuals like to abide by rules, but there should always be some room for flexibility.

We are all human. You can’t be too nice, and you can’t be too strict. There should be some balance in between. Be flexible when it is needed, yet be strict when you feel that it’s needed as well. This is a lessons learned for me.

I would love to hear your comments, examples, and how you changed your attitude towards making a good work environment.