TAPS or Truth Application Program Sessions began as a series of business development sessions back in 1996-97 when I was in the Philippines. It was referred to as BDS then. It was initially just a small group of people who would come over for coffee/tea sessions to my house and we would have long debates on various subjects. From small gatherings in coffee shops and in people’s homes, these sessions grew in strength and eventually, it developed into something more, where people would confront each other on issues that bothered them.
I realised that during these confrontations, people usually knew the truth of the matter at hand and understood and related to it. But they always ended up addressing each other and never the issue at hand.
That’s when I decided to give these sessions a structure and laid down some ground rules of confrontation. I developed these ‘Truth’ sessions based on the concept of ‘Bheda’ as described by the ancient Indian economist Chanakya in his legendary tome ‘Arthashastra’ which is a treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy, consider relevant even today.
The Arthashastra mentions three key techniques in the running of the government. Sama, Dana and Bheda. Sama means the art of gentle persuasion, Dana means the usage of donations or money to achieve one’s purpose, and Bheda is the art of aggravating dissension amongst parties opposed to each other. The structure I created for TAPS was based on the concept of Bheda.
These are the 10 rules of Confrontation:
- Check your emotions at the door.
- Never confront the person, always the issue. Avoid using the ‘I’ and ‘you’ word in the discussion.
- Never argue your point for the point’s sake, only lawyers do that. Discuss it instead. The objective is communication not domination.
- Which means equal parts listening to talking.
- Begin with listening, the more you listen the more effective you become in addressing.
- Confrontation with Egoism, Lust, Anger, Hatred, Jealousy or Malice of any kind will always fail. Even pity as a motive is self defeating as an objective.
- Always confront with love, failing which you can also do so with kindness, compassion or even understanding.
- Ultimately never digress. It will be highly tempting to bring other issues in. Resist and remain focussed. Make only one point at time.
- Never forget who you are doing it with or what you are doing it for…yourself.
- Confrontation without compromise is only possible for a principle, never for personal gain. If you are getting emotional at any juncture, always try to get someone to do it for you or at the very least have a neutral third party present
These sessions that started as informal ‘Coffee with Vijay’ sessions then became a full-fledged program that I termed the Truth Application Program (TAP). Each session limits its audience to 40-45 people, and can last three to nine hours. People have returned to tell me that their lives have been changed by a single such interaction. We have a waiting list of thousands wanting to attend these sessions today.
If you look at the amount of money, psychiatrists make in the USA today, you will know what I am talking about. Ultimately, those are Truth sessions too. People usually know the truth, but acknowledging it, is the difficult part. Making people understand the importance of truth is a lot of hard work. The easier path to take is always harder at the end. Like telling a lie is easier than telling the truth. One lie then leads to another. Before you know it you are living a lie. A life then becomes very complicated to live. It eventually all shreds like tissue and you lie naked to the world. As you lie in regret, the harder path of truth will look so much easier…in retrospect. So the biggest challenge is actually…lying.
It is always better to confront before ending up in conflict. That is the core of TAPs.