Monday, August 3, 2015

Humor in Uniform – “Praise in Public and Criticize in Private” – Spoken Reputation


Last month – during a Navy Foundation Meet of Retired Naval Officers – I met a coursemate after a long time.

And – I remembered this story...

Unforgettable Characters I Met in the Navy
A Spoof

There is a saying in the Navy: 

If you want to know the true character of an officer – ask his coursemates

Seniors will have one view of an officer – juniors will have another view – but it is his peers who will know the officer inside-out – especially his coursemates who have seen the officers from close quarters from academy days.

Here is a story of an unforgettable character I met in the Navy – an ambitious coursemate of mine.


Long ago – at a meeting  where a lot of “brass” was present  I profusely praised a fellow Navy Officer – who was a coursemate of mine.

I believed in the dictum: “Praise in Public and Criticize in Private”.

And – of course – I wanted to do my coursemate a good turn – so – I praised him lavishly in front of everyone.

After the meeting  my coursemate came to my office.

I thought he had come to thank me for the generous way in which I had praised him in front of everyone  and he would utter some words of gratitude.

Instead  he said to me: “I want to make one sincere request to you.

“You know that I will do anything for you – after all – you are my dear friend and a coursemate. Go ahead – tell me  what can I do for you? I said to him.

“In future – please do not praise me like you did today  especially in front of senior officers,” he pleaded.

“But why shouldn’t I praise you?” I asked, “I am your well-wisher.”

My coursemate looked at me  and he said to me: “I know you are my well-wisher. But you have a most terrible reputation with most senior officers. So  if you praise me  it may have the opposite effect.”


My coursemate returned the favour many years later.

By nature – I am an honest, straightforward and outspoken person.

Well  as far as senior officers were concerned – my being honest was fine.

My straightforwardness was tolerated.

But  my outspokenness had earned me a reputation of being a tactless, abrasive and “difficult” officer.

Once  during a meeting  I expressed my views in my usual blunt manner.

My coursemate was also present – yes – the same coursemate who I had praised earlier.

After the meeting  I overheard a senior officer remark to my coursemate about me“Your coursemate really calls a spade a spade.

My coursemate praised me with these flattering words: “Sir – he does not call a spade a spade – he calls a spade a bulldozer.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This story is a spoof, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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