Archive | January, 2017

My Experiences With Bullying

Posted on 26 January 2017 by admin


Feature image courtesy of MY Photography.

I have briefly mentioned experiencing bullying before, but after hearing about an incident in Netherlands of a young Tamil boy who took his life due to bullying, and receiving an email from a girl yesterday about similar issues she is facing, I thought I will write a blog about my thoughts on this, in the hope that this may create a ray of hope for anyone out there who feels what I felt many years ago.

I grew up in a refugee camp to begin with, and since my parents didn’t speak German, I was not able to pick up the language very quickly, so I went to kindergarten and was picked on for not knowing German. Not just by fellow kids, but also the teachers, who isolated me and never included me in anything. When I started primary school, I was picked on immediately. We didn’t have school Uniforms in Germany, and my parents couldn’t afford to dress me in nice things, so I was picked on for my dress code, not speaking German, and for being coloured. Germany in the 90s was extremely racist. I was called names just because of my skin tone.

In my last year at primary school, I used to get beaten up during break, I used to go home with bruises, and my mum believed every story I told her. My parents were never even aware of what went on at school.

When I started high school, things got better, only to then be told that we are moving to England. I hated the high school system here. Yes we had Uniforms, and the teachers had a lot more control over students and waited at the bus stops until every student got on, but that never stopped the bullies. I had to sit at the front of every class due to my language barrier (yep, I spoke no word of English at the age of 14), and the so called ‘cool’ kids sitting at the back used to chuck paper at me when the teacher wasn’t looking. On one occasion I had chewing gum chucked at me, which got caught in my hair, and I waited to use the bathroom, to cry in the cubicle because I couldn’t get it out of my hair.

I was teased for the way I looked, for having a hairy upper lip, for the way I dressed, for the way I spoke, for not being academically smart. Naturally I had no friends either. Not in Kindergarten, not in Primary school, and not during High School either. The only person I became friends with was also being bullied, so we were both always picked on.

I genuinely believed that Uni will change everything, but it didn’t. I moved out, and initially made friends with the people I lived with, but very soon they made their own friends from their courses and I was left on my own again. I tried really hard to make friends in my course, but I really struggled. I hated having group work or a lab partner, as I was always the last person to be selected. No one wanted to work with me.

I still managed to make a few friends who I am still close with to this day. But man, making friends during those days just wasn’t easy for me.

I was depressed, miserable, and just super insecure. I had the odd person I hung out with, or was desperate to have a boyfriend because I thought at least that way I won’t be lonely, but to no luck. Things never seemed to work out for me very well. (And when you are this vulnerable and lonely, you do attract the wrong kind of guys, so please please do not make the same mistake. It is better to be on your own, than wind up with a psycho boyfriend who will make you fell much worse about yourself than any of those bullies at school).

I didn’t tell anyone about it, and I didn’t talk to a therapist either. In fact none of my family members knew about it, and the teachers/lecturers weren’t aware either. Do you know what I did about it? I learned to not care about them. I figured that a few years down the line none of these people are going to matter. I took a vow that I will make something of my life, and that I will be happy, content, successful, and achieve my goals. I used to want those things, just so I can have people begging to be my friend.

Well today that doesn’t influence my decisions of course. Today I have learned to do things on my own, to be independent, and to run my own business. I achieved all the things I set out to achieve, and whoever stuck by me through this painful and long journey, are the ones I really regard as friends and who really matter to me. To me, my parents and my cousins are still my number ones, and every one else I meet along the journey come and go, and I am content with that. People who want to be friends with you because of success or fame, are never really real friends. Trust me!!!

I have considered taking my life numerous times during those awful years. I used to think no one would even notice if I am gone, and that I would probably enrich their lives by killing myself. I am telling you, I have never crossed paths with any of these bullies since leaving school, and I am glad that I never took my life for their satisfaction. Bullies make you believe that something is wrong with you, when in reality something is wrong with them. They are the miserable and unhappy ones, and they get their notion of happiness by making others suffer. It is their way of coping, their way of surviving. It is not your fault. In fact be the better person and feel sorry for them, if you are not able to do so, then just ignore them.

I could write an entire essay of what you could do to those mean bullies, but stooping to their level is never wise. We don’t know what they are going through nor why they are so bitter and unhappy. They must be fighting their own battles at home. Who cares? It is not your problem. You are loved, you have a beautiful family, and you have a roof over your head and cooked food on the table, stay strong and put up with it until you can make active choices. Yes you could change schools, or jobs, or stop being friends with the person that constantly picks on you. But does that solve the problem? It deals with the symptoms not the source. How we react to these situations is dealing with the source of the problem. Just ignore them, and don’t change. Be the same kind person you want to be.

You would think bullying only happens in schools, but no it happens at work, it happens in relationships, it even happens amongst family members. We can never get away from a bully. They are everywhere, and around us. But we have the power to do something about it. To make choices that allow us to stay away from such people. Or remove ourselves from these situations. The first step is to talk to a loved one, confide in them, and let them help you. If you don’t, then there are professionals you can talk to at school or even at work to make them aware of this.

I once had a staff member bully me at work for over a year. Since I became an expert at being bullied, I just noted down everything; anything he said or did. I never encouraged him, nor reacted to his behaviour. (Even though I used to cry at home, or in the bathrooms), and then after about six months of collecting evidence, I wrote a huge letter to HR, filed a formal complaint, and after a few interviews he was sacked. And I worked happily ever after!

Even now, I sometimes get cyberbullies. I even have some family members who bully me. I deal with it every day.

Why should you suffer for someone else? Why does the other person matter more than you? Why is it ok to feel sad, irrelevant, and lonely? Why?

No one has that right or that kind of power over you. So don’t let them!

Just use me as an example. I was bullied most of my life, and today I regard myself as a successful and independent woman. I am also about to leave my family and friends and move to another country where I am not going to know anyone and start from scratch. I got those bullies to thank! I became tough and strong because of them.

So get up, dust off, and LIVE!!! Life gets better. I promise!!!

Vithya is a London based Hair and Make Up artist who specialises in Asian Bridal Hair and Make Up, and dressing. She qualified at the London College of Fashion, has worked for M.A.C Cosmetics for almost three years, and is now self employe

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Donald Trump is out to write the script for his new reality show

Posted on 26 January 2017 by admin

President Donald Trump.

As improbable as it still seems to read those words, or to write them, they are reality. The one-time businessman took the oath of office Friday and is now the most significant political figure in the nation, and the world.

In a bleak inaugural speech laced with populist and nativist themes, the president said he would not let the country down. “We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done,” he said.

Since the election, Americans and people worldwide have sparred over how the public should view the new president. Many insist Trump’s communication style and ideas are so far outside the mainstream he should be treated as unqualified and illegitimate.

We saw evidence of the widespread unease about Trump Saturday, when millions of Americans, most of them women, poured into streets and parks across the nation and the world. Their message, delivered in the best tradition of American dissent, was clear: President Trump should not be normalized.

Many of us are understandably worried Trump threatens long-standing democratic norms: free expression, the protection of minority and individual rights, the importance of debate and compromise. Much of his campaign and parts of his transition have amplified that fear.

But declaring this a failed presidency before it even begins won’t help our country. Like every president before him, Trump deserves a chance to succeed, and Americans should commit to giving him the opportunity to do so.

Part of our reasoning comes from principle. Like it or not, Trump is now the president for all of America. The nation faces enormous challenges: health care, wealth inequality, education, job creation, foreign relations. If Trump fails, we do, too.

If President Trump thinks he’s getting a fair shake, he may moderate his rhetorical approach and carefully consider different views on public-policy questions.

If not, a siege mentality likely will consume the White House, and he will do whatever he wants.

Of course, Trump may do whatever he wants, regardless of the circumstances. That means our willingness to give the president some running room has limits.

Trump’s endless tweet-storms are at best pointless and at worst dangerous. Twitter battles must stop. Governing America is serious business, not a 140-character rant delivered in the middle of the night.

Trump, to his credit, has pushed back against some of this extremism, promising to be a president for all Americans. If he can accomplish that goal, he’ll deserve our applause.

Similarly, if Trump can reverse the decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs without seriously harming foreign trade, that’s a win for America. If he can boost the farm economy, or bring growth to troubled inner cities, or stop the plague of violence that threatens police and minority communities, he will have helped his country.

We hope he can.

To be clear: We will take President Trump at his word. The suggestion we shouldn’t take his statements literally is absurd — how else are we to understand him? Guess?

And when he makes demonstrably false claims, he isn’t being “colorful” or “populist.” He’s lying.

The president’s words and actions will be judged by media and people.

If President Trump succeeds, you’ll know it.

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Where are the best jobs of 2017? Look to technology

Posted on 26 January 2017 by admin

Glassdoor released its annual ranking Monday of this year’s 50 “best jobs” in the United States. Once again, perhaps unsurprisingly, tech-related positions rose to the top.

Four of the top five jobs, in fact, were for tech workers, with “data scientist” defending its spot at the top of the list. The ranking – which is based on median base salary, job satisfaction rating, and the number of positions available on Glassdoor – reflects a broader trend in a changing US labor market. As an increasing number of industries, even outside the traditional tech sector, seek to grapple with rapid technological innovation, demand for tech professionals has skyrocketed.

“This report reinforces that the best jobs are highly-skilled and are staying ahead of the growing trend toward workplace automation,” Glassdoor’s chief economist, Andrew Chamberlain, told Business Insider. Keeping one step ahead of the machines, as workplaces grow increasingly automated, requires a few notably human qualifications: a sense of creativity, discernment, and adaptability.

“Those are aspects of work that are extremely difficult to automate, and having them allows workers to team up with technology to become more productive, rather than simply being replaced by it,” Dr. Chamberlain added.

Data scientists earn a median base salary of $110,000 per year and report a job satisfaction rating of 4.4 out of 5, according to Glassdoor’s report. The job rose to No. 1 last year, up from No. 9 in 2015.

DevOps Engineer – a job that entails both software development (“Dev”) and informational technology operations (“Ops”) – came in second, followed by data engineer in third.

Fourteen of the 50 jobs that made the list require some sort of STEM-related skills(in science, technology, engineering, and/or math), as USA Today reported.

Glassdoor’s ranking comes as newly inaugurated President Trump launches his administration with an emphasis on job creation, with a special emphasis on manufacturing – having inherited a US economy showing signs of progress along a long road to recovery.

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Trump says he’s meeting with Trudeau to talk trade

Posted on 26 January 2017 by admin

U.S. President Donald Trump announced Sunday that he will be meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto as he moves quickly on his campaign pledge to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Yet faced with negotiations that could rewrite the rules with its biggest trading partner, Trudeau’s office was staying silent Sunday, declining to comment on Trump’s first official statements on NAFTA since taking office.

But Canada’s relations with the new administration are expected to top the agenda when Trudeau met with his cabinet ministers.

Trump – who made clear his “American first” agenda during his inauguration speech — used brief remarks Sunday during a White House ceremony to reaffirm his intent to reopen the trade pact between Canada, the United States and Mexico.

That will start with upcoming meetings with Trudeau and Pena Nieto, he said.

“We’re going to start some negotiations having to do with NAFTA. . . . I ran a campaign somewhat based on NAFTA,” Trump told an audience of administration staff.

“We’re going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security at the border,” Trump said.

No date was announced for the meeting with Trudeau. The prime minister’s office said Sunday it did not have any additional details beyond a telephone call between the two leaders Saturday when they said they “looked forward to meeting soon.”

Discussions will also include Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of the Blackstone Group investment firm appointed in December to lead the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed Sunday.

Dominic Barton, the head of the Trudeau government’s Council of Economic Advisers, is also set to attend.

During their call, both Trump and Trudeau underscored the importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office.

“The prime minister noted the depth of the Canada-U.S. economic relationship, with 35 states having Canada as their top export destination,” the statement sad.

White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said the two leaders had a “constructive” conversation about “strengthening the relationship between our two nations.”

“They also discussed setting up additional meetings in the days to come, which we will follow up on,” Spicer said Saturday.

Trump’s brief comments on Sunday were largely focussed on Mexico. “I think we’re going to have a very good result for Mexico, for the United States, for everybody involved. It’s very important,” Trump said.

Still, Trudeau’s government is gearing up to deal with a new administration in Washington as it braces to see how Trump’s tough talk on trade now become policy that could impact the cross-border economy.

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Kathleen Wynne blasts Tory leadership hopeful Kevin O’Leary

Posted on 26 January 2017 by admin

Ontario’s Liberal premier has injected herself into the federal Conservative leadership race with a slap at the newest — and highest-profile — contestant.

Premier Kathleen Wynne posted an open letter on Facebook on Sunday attacking businessman and television personality Kevin O’Leary for erroneously claiming Ontario attracts lower auto investment than Michigan.

“I noticed that you told one media outlet that our province trails Michigan when it comes to auto sector investment because, in your words, business there enjoys, ‘30 per cent less in tax, no regulations and no carbon tax,’” Wynne wrote.

“In fact, that’s inaccurate on just about every count. As it turns out, Ontario has attracted roughly $2 billion worth of new auto sector investment in the last few months alone — far outpacing Michigan,” the premier continued.

“Indeed, over the past five years, Ontario has accounted for 14.6 per cent of all the auto production in North America, surpassing the share enjoyed by any other jurisdiction on either side of the border including — you guessed it — Michigan,” she said.Wynne conceded that there is “no carbon tax in Michigan but our program to cap the emissions of industry is far less expensive and much more effective than the new carbon tax your fellow Conservatives have promised to introduce.”

That’s a reference to Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown’s vague plan to replace the Liberals’ new cap-and-trade program, which increases fossil-fuel prices, with a “revenue-neutral” carbon tax if he wins the June 7, 2018 provincial election.

“As for taxes, businesses in Ontario pay a combined federal and provincial rate of 28.5 per cent. That’s significantly below the 38.9 per cent they pay in Michigan,” noted Wynne.

With a nod toward O’Leary’s role as Mr. Wonderful on ABC’s Shark Tank, Wynne admitted it is difficult to debate someone famous for making outrageous claims on television.

“I know that responding to you with such facts runs the risk of missing the point. On American game shows and reality TV, no one expects their words to be taken literally — or even seriously,” she wrote.

“But for the millions of working families in Ontario who rely upon the auto sector to put bread on their table, I thought it was worth pointing out that your statements have been quite incorrect.”

O’Leary was not immediately available to respond Sunday. But on Saturday he made clear he stands by his criticism of Wynne’s government.

“Kathleen Wynne doesn’t worry about successful entrepreneurs in her province any more because she taxed them away,” he said in a Twitter message to his 608,700 followers.

The premier’s office said she was moved to respond after an interview O’Leary gave Newstalk 1010 on Wednesday where the former star of CBC’s Dragons’ Den complained Ontario is “a very uncompetitive province.”

“It’s ridiculous that we pay these taxes, it’s so uncompetitive,” he told Newstalk 1010.

The Conservative Party of Canada’s website does not yet include O’Leary as an official candidate though 13 other hopefuls are listed.

But his own slick website makes it clear he will soon be a formal candidate for the leadership, which will be decided by Conservative party members on May 27.

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Afghanistan needs Pakistan and vice versa for stability in region

Posted on 26 January 2017 by admin

 Dr. Hasan Askari

  Pakistan and Afghanistan share culture and history but their relations are currently strained. These relations reflect distrust between Pakistan and Afghanistan and both have complaints against each other. Their relations experienced a new crisis when, on January 10 when suicide bombing and planted bombs in Kabul, Kandahar and Lashkargah (Helmand province) killed 57 people and injured some people.

 In Kandahar, the bomb was said to be hidden in a sofa in an official building in the Governor’s security compound. The bomb killed 12 people in the building, including five officials of the United Arab Emirates who were on an official visit. The UAE ambassador to Afghanistan and the Governor of the Kandahar region were injured.

 The Afghan Taliban took the responsibility for the explosions in Kabul and Lashkargah but they maintained that they were not involved in the Kandahar explosion. The Afghanistan government did not wait for any investigation of these explosions and blamed Pakistan and especially the ISI for these explosions. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani claimed that the Afghan Taliban have “safe-havens” in Pakistan and they come from there to engage in violence and killings in Afghanistan.

 The Government of Pakistan condemned the attacks and rejected Afghanistan’s claim that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies were involved in the bombing or the Afghan Taliban have their bases in Pakistan for engaging in violence in Afghanistan.

 Three days later, a large number of Afghan staged a strong protest outside the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul condemning and criticizing Pakistan for its support to Afghan Taliban. This protest had official Afghan blessings.

 Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa telephoned Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, expressing his grief over the loss of human life. He also sought Afghanistan’s cooperation for countering terrorism in the region and for effectively regulating unauthorized movement of people. The Afghan President was not forthcoming for effective border control and repeated his complaint of the Afghan Taliban operating from Pakistan,

 The worsening of the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan led the Commander of the U.S. Central Command, General Joseph L. Votel, to visit Islamabad and meet with the Army Chief and other top commanders to defuse the situation. It may be mentioned here that currently there are about 9800 American troops based in Afghanistan that are under the overall control of the U.S. Central Command.

 The Afghan government blames Pakistan for every major bombing or violent incident in order to cover up its inability to assert its authority over large parts of Afghanistan. The Afghan Talban control parts of Afghanistan and challenge the Kabul government from time to time to demonstrate their strength. The Afghan National Army and the Police, trained by the U.S. and the NATO, are not always successful in coping with the Taliban fighters. The real security challenge to the Kabul government is internal which is unable to cope with. There is another reason for criticism of Pakistan. The ruling elite in Afghanistan are divided. The notion of external enemy united them. Anti-Pakistan sentiments are integral to the Afghan nationalism as advocated by the Kabul government since 2001-2002.

 If the role of the Taliban and other militants is to be contained, both Afghanistan and Pakistan will have to cooperate. As the unauthorized movement of militants in both ways on the Pakistan-Afghan border, the Afghan and Pakistan security forces will have to work together to strengthen security arrangements on it. Surely some Afghan Taliban move from Pakistan to Afghanistan and return. In the same way, Pakistani Taliban, including their top command is based in Afghanistan and these Pakistani Taliban cross over into Pakistan for engaging in violence against Pakistan’s security forces and their rival militant groups.

 Afghanistan talks only about the Afghan Taliban and reuses to pay any attention to Pakistani compliant about the presence of Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan.

 The Afghan Taliban senior leaders may be identifiable but their activists cannot be identified because of their ethnic and linguistic overlap with the Afghan refugees based in Pakistan and the local Pakhtun population. Not all Afghan refugees are not in favor of the Kabul government. This gives space to Afghan Taliban activists to hide. The best strategy to deal with this problem will be an effective border control to restrict the movement of Afghan and Pakistani Taliban across the Pakistan-Afghan border.

 Another problematic issue in the Afghan situation is the increased influence of India’s security and intelligence establishment in Afghanistan. The closer interaction between the two causes much concern in Pakistan’s official circles because they are convinced that India is using Afghanistan to provide funding to Pakistani Taliban and some Baloch separatist elements in order to build security pressure on Pakistan.

 Instead of cultivating cooperation with Pakistan to jointly counter Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan President is trying to bypass the government of Pakistan for tackling Afghan Taliban. He approached Maulana Samiul Haq to control the Talban and restoring peace in Afghanistan on January 19. This effort may not succeed because the political profile of the Afghan Taliban has improved because Russia and China are now cultivating them. This is being done to counter the Daeesh (Islamic State Organization) in Afghanistan. China and Russia are also encouraging them for a political settlement in Afghanistan which may not be to full satisfaction of the resent Kabul government.

 Afghanistan cannot succeed in restoring peace within its territory all by itself. It needs to work with Pakistan and take into account the current Russian and Chinese interest in the region. Peace and stability in Afghanistan is beneficial to both Afghanistan and Pakistan and it will reduce the concerns of Russia, China and many other states about the spillover of Afghanistan based radicalism and terrorism.

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Help! I’m 30, Tamil… and Not Married

Posted on 26 January 2017 by admin



While I’m not in the age range polled, I feel obliged to comment. There is definitely a growing rift between young men and women in society, and I think it’s even more pronounced in the Tamil community. Certainly the low marriage rates from your survey attest to this. I’ll try my best to explain my reasons for why this is. Be warned that much of my commentary is not politically correct, but I think it needs to be said if we are to discuss this issue openly and honestly.

First, there is no doubt that Tamil women are outperforming Tamil men both in education and professionally. There are more girls than boys pursuing post-secondary education. And while this is true for all of Canada, this trend is exacerbated in our community. Almost every Tamil girl I’ve met who grew up in Canada has some form of post-secondary education – at minimum a Bachelor’s degree or a college diploma. Numerous women in our community also hold graduate degrees and PhDs.

However, the same cannot be said of our Tamil guys. Tamil women with degrees far outnumber Tamil men. And because most women prefer to marry men who are above them in status, educated Tamil women are finding that there is a shortage of men who meet this criteria. Most are unwilling to compromise their standards and “settle” for a less educated partner. And many will hold out until the right guy comes along, not realizing that a handsome, educated Tamil man with a professional job has plenty of options. With each passing year their marital prospects decline… until they find themselves still alone well into their 30s.

Another critical aspect is that there is a huge element of superficiality in the modern Western society we live in. Given that most young Tamil professionals today marry for love, physical attraction undoubtedly plays a factor. Most men have a preference for slim, fair-skinned girls. A girl who is dark or fat will find it more difficult to attract a partner.

In our parents’ time, such a girl would have found a husband (provided a sufficient dowry) because physicality wasn’t a deciding factor in arranged marriage back home. Most parents sought an educated man for their daughter and a girl who was “adakam ozhukum” for their sons. But with Western media pumping out images of blonde bombshells and Kollywood pushing Shreya as the aesthetic ideal, every guy wants a fair-skinned girl on his arm and not the plump, dark girl with the heart of gold.

So why are so many of our men still single into their 30s? The truth is many Tamil guys today are lonely and embittered. Many Tamil “nice guys” still harbour resentment from Tamil girls ignoring them and going for “gangsta” bad boys back in high school and university. Of course, when these girls mature and realize the gangsta guys are going nowhere in life, it’s too late. You ignored me before, but you’ll settle for me now after being pumped and dumped by bad boys and run out of options? No thanks.

Furthermore, Tamil guys – even educated guys who grew up in Canada – are very judgmental about a girl’s past. Even today, Tamil men have different standards for whom they’ll casually date and whom they’ll marry. And a Tamil girl who has had several boyfriends or sexual partners will not be viewed as marriage material. Tamil men won’t settle for what they perceive as “used goods” with baggage from past relationships. While this double standard may seem unfair to the ladies, it is still the reality in our community.

At the same time, Tamil guys today can’t go “back home” to marry a virgin bride as their uncles or older cousins did. Most guys who grew up here can’t hold a conversation in Tamil , and there is a significant language and cultural barrier between Tamil guys who grew up here and village girls back home. Unlike Indians, the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora does not have a huge pool of attractive, educated English-speaking girls to draw from back home. So a lot of Tamil guys here are stuck in limbo – either marry a girl whose had multiple past boyfriends in Canada, or sponsor a village girl from Jaffna. Not content with either option, many men still remain unmarried well into their 30s.

As a young Tamil-Canadian male, I find this trend worrisome. If Tamils who are born or raised here don’t form families and reproduce, it will be the demise of our community. We should not be a community of underachieving bachelors and overeducated spinsters. So what can be done to bridge this rift between our young men and women?

Tamil guys – you need to step it up educationally and professionally. Our ladies are doing extremely well, so there’s no reason why you can’t. And don’t be so judgmental about a girl’s past. The archaic values you’re clinging to are from a bygone era when women didn’t have the freedoms they do today. They’re incompatible with today’s modern, egalitarian society.

And Tamil girls – you need to do a better job of picking the right guy while you’re still young. Instead of wasting your prime years with the “exciting” bad boy who’s going nowhere in life, find a smart dependable guy with a good future and stick with him. Your biological clock is ticking and soon it may be too late.

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The Do’s And Don’ts Of Talking Politics At Work

Posted on 26 January 2017 by admin


Canada’s largest career site for job seekers and a leader in HR technology for employers.

Anyone who’s ever been in a heated political argument with an opinionated uncle or aunt at Thanksgiving knows the perils of a political discussion. And with the U.S. Inauguration Day on the books, political talk has never been more fraught. According to a recent study by VitalSmarts co-founders Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield, nine out of 10 U.S. voters said the 2016 election was more polarizing and volatile than ever before.

So, how do you cover what will inevitably be a topic of discussion, without starting a bitter debate with coworkers? Read on for the do’s and don’ts of talking politics at the office.

DO: Disagree diplomatically

Surprisingly, VitalSmarts’ survey found that people would rather talk to someone they disagree with who speaks respectfully, rather than someone who shares their views but expresses them belligerently. “Most of us think the only safe space to talk is with those who agree with us, and it’s just not true,” said Grenny.

DON’T: Lie about your beliefs to conform

Sure, sometimes it seems easier to take the path of least resistance. But lying about what you believe isn’t a healthy long-term strategy. “A lot of people think being diplomatic is sugarcoating your opinions,” Grenny said. “But that’s not a meaningful conversation.”

DO: Focus on common ground

It might be hard to believe, but you might share some ideological similarities even with people at the opposite of the political spectrum. Locate those common threads and use them to weave understanding. “It’s totally possible two people with polar opposite positions have similar values,” Grenny said. “On immigration, maybe you both care about national security, and taking care of those with citizenship, and the disagreements are how we execute on those values.”

DON’T: Try to change the other person’s mind

After thousands of hours of cable news reports, most people’s opinions are pretty strongly held by now. If you try to “convert” your conversation partner, you may come off as preachy or condescending. “Give up the desire to proselytize to someone with a different opinion,” Grenny said.

DO: Ask for permission

Simply asking if it’s OK to express your dissenting opinion goes a long way, Grenny said. “People feel psychologically different when they give permission to share our point of view.” And with respect to the president-elect, don’t build walls in the conversation. Listen and try to be understanding.

DO: Plan an escape route

No matter how carefully you communicate, some political discussions are simply bound to get heated. If that’s the case, be sure to recognize it and find what Grenny calls the “off-ramp.”

“If it looks like it’s creating something that neither person wants, just stop. As soon as one of those signals occurs, say, ‘gosh, I think I’m getting a little too agitated, it looks like you’re not liking what you’re hearing from me, so let’s talk about the ball game.’ Then cut it off.”

And if that doesn’t work, you could always bring the subject back to a work matter (or worst case, start looking for another job!).


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When It Comes To Your Personal Style, Screw Perfection

Posted on 26 January 2017 by admin

Is it just me or does a new year seem to bring with it a ton of pressure? Resolutions, goals, diets, exercise and (worst of all) dry January. All of a sudden perfectly happy people are holding themselves to unrealistic standards that, if not met, leave them feeling worse than before. So this January, why not resolve to skip the declarations, disregard the lofty ambitions, and when it comes to your style, screw perfection.

Here’s the thing: style is completely subjective. It’s also ever changing. Yes there are (so-called) rules and guidelines, do’s and don’ts, ins and outs, but style itself is, or should be, a personal, individual thing — an expression of and extension of the self. Of course you could say that some people have great style, while others, not so much, but if you think that you need to get it 100% right, just know that you never will. There’s no such thing.

If you do, however, want to get as close to the 100% as possible, there are a few things you can do ensure success (at least in your eyes — which is all that matters).

1. Know what works for you. Are there certain cuts or styles that work for your body shape, your lifestyle and your personal aesthetic? Keep those in mind. Even when you try new things, it’s always good to stay within these parameters.

2. Be yourself — 100% you. Be creative. Express yourself. Show the world who YOU are. Trust your instinct and go with your gut. Never get talked into anything that doesn’t align with you. No one knows you better than you, so stick with what resonates and you’ll never go wrong.

3. When it comes to style, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There’s no need to commit or go all in, so start slowly. Think baby steps. Pick one thing and go from there. If that first thing works, choose another. Implement things one at a time, or piece by piece and build upon them.

Remember to keep an open mind when trying new things and don’t set unnecessary limits upon yourself. If I had a dollar for every time a client was afraid to try something I suggested, only to realize that they loved it once they did, I’d be a very wealthy girl. How will you ever know how something will look unless you try?

Also consider that things might not work out as you had imagined or planned. And that’s OK. Release the need to get it right on the first try, especially when you’re trying something new. Nothing wrong with a little trial and error.

Remind yourself repeatedly that style isn’t about perfection. It’s about being yourself, expressing who you are, and having a healthy dose of fabulosity. No matter what you wear.

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Divorce Month: Why Marriages End In January

Posted on 26 January 2017 by admin

The beginning of a new year is often a time of reflection and resolutions. The usual suspects are diet and exercise, but often people are ready for much bigger life decisions. For a couple struggling in a marriage, this might seem like the perfect time to end the relationship and move on. In fact, this happens so often that January has become known as Divorce Month.

Most people, if they are unhappy in their marriage, are probably thinking about breaking up long before the holidays. But given that the holidays are a traditional family time, couples, especially those with children, loathe creating a sad memory for their children. Yet once the decorations are put away and everyone is back in their routine, many spouses are ready to start taking steps towards a separation.

This doesn’t mean that couples are walking into divorce courts, ready to go on the first of January. More likely, they are starting to gather information and are beginning the process of separation. Some couples, or individuals, have already brainstormed what they want and are clear about their goals. Others are sad, and anxious and want to understand what is involved in dissolving their marriage.

There are important factors to consider prior to taking the next big step.

Are you sure?
It may feel as though it is too late to save your marriage, but consider visiting a marital counsellor or therapist. Alternatively, you can go individually and get advice on how to navigate your emotions around your separation and divorce, and how to deal with your children during this process.

How to separate
A separation can be negotiated entirely out-of-court, ideally using either a mediator or collaborative lawyers. Either can help couples come to a fair conclusion in a calmer atmosphere than other alternatives such as going to Court.

In mediation, a mediator is a third party who will help a couple make decisions together about their separation. Not everyone is comfortable with this, as they may not want to have such a direct conversation with their spouse. They may also be concerned that they don’t know enough about the laws around separation, e.g. tax implications. That said, mediators might call in lawyers or other specialists to clarify more complex issues.

In a collaborative lawyer-to-lawyer negotiation, a lawyer for each spouse advocates using a system of negotiation based on mutual interest and open communication.

The end of a marriage is an emotional minefield and sadness and hurt can get mixed up with financial discussions and decisions about children. By keeping the separation process outside the courts, you can maintain a less acrimonious atmosphere and hopefully come to an agreement with less stress.

How to share the news with your children
What you tell your children largely depends on their age and the circumstances of your situation. Generally it is a good idea to present a united message from both parents. Being on the same page will be less confusing for your children and will help maintain some stability in a situation that may feel unstable, especially in the early stages.

Should I start my separation in Divorce Month?
If you are considering breaking up, there is never a good time. The best you can do at any time is to know your objectives, stay calm, and treat your spouse as you hope to be treated.

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