When workers lack motivation, this can be incredibly frustrating. There can be a temptation to address these frustrations using terms that one has heard elsewhere. Take care to keep criticism constructive, to be very aware of how certain terms are used culturally, and to avoid them if they could be inappropriate.

When workers have used excess time to complete processes due to a lack of motivation, they have sometimes in the past been referred to as “thulla.”

Overview: What is a thulla?

Thulla is a term that originates in the Hindi dialect and is used derogatorily to describe someone who takes too long to do something, is lazy, or is committing wrongful acts. It is North Indian slang and has been a term used to describe everything from workers to police officers.

3 drawbacks of using the term “thulla”

There are severe drawbacks to using this term that should not be overlooked:

1. It is not helpful

Calling a worker by this term due to a perceived lack of motivation on their part is not helpful to your organization. If you are a team leader, such language makes employees feel like they are not truly part of your team. It also ignores that the reason a worker may appear to be unmotivated is that the work process is not engaging.

2. It can be seen as abusive by the law

Calling someone this term could be seen as abusive, and there could be penalties. When Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, used the term to describe members of the police force, he faced a criminal defamation complaint that was filed by a police constable.

3. Hurtful language could erode your team

Using this type of language is not conducive to attaining the long-term goals of your organization. It can create a toxic work environment and could erode the trust of your team in the company and its leadership.

Why is thulla important to understand?

Understanding this term is important for the following reasons:

Finding better ways to communicate and motivate

Understanding this term and its implications encourages you to avoid using such terminology and to find better ways to communicate with your team. There are plenty of ways to motivate your team without resorting to hurtful language.

Building trust

Having an understanding of the pain these kinds of terms can cause and demonstrating that there is no tolerance for them in your workplace, helps to build a working environment where your team feels safe. This can build trust in the leadership of the organization and its management.

Embracing cultural differences

By taking the time to understand this term and why it is to be avoided, you demonstrate a sensitivity to how a term in one culture can be a non-issue while it can be massive for another. This type of cultural awareness can only help your organization as it grows.

An industry example of thulla

In a manufacturing plant, workers were growing tired after being assigned longer shifts. The plant manager called one of the workers a thulla for taking too much time to assemble a part. The plant manager was reprimanded and is being retrained before they can do further work for the organization.

3 best practices when thinking about thulla

Here are some key practices when it comes to thinking about this term:

1. Use language that is helpful, not hurtful

If you are having issues with your workers lacking motivation or taking too long on tasks and need to communicate this, think of ways to communicate this in ways that are constructive and beneficial to the worker instead of being harmful.

2. Use words that you know the meaning to

It is good practice to know what a word means and its cultural implications before using it.

3. Motivating instead of bringing people down

If you see that workers are not completing their tasks in a satisfactory amount of time, find ways to engage their interests. Workers want to feel fulfilled by what they do every day. A job is not something that people do solely for money. They are also a vital part of our personal identity. Therefore, people want to take pride in their work and feel like what they do matters to the whole. By encouraging the active engagement of your workforce, your company is likely to do better than it would otherwise.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about thulla

What is the origin of the term “thulla?”

The term supposedly originally came from a sack made from jute fiber. This sack is called “thulla” in parts of India.

When did the word enter the common lexicon?

The word became commonly known in India after it was used in 2016 by Arvind Kejriwal.

What is the view of those who feel that the word is not offensive?

Many police officers in parts of India wear uniforms that are khaki, which is a similar shade to jute sacks. The argument has been made that this is why the Chief Minister used the term and that it was not meant in an offensive way.

Thulla and the potential for offensive language

In the workplace, it is vitally important to know the background behind the words you use and how they may be taken by others. A good rule of thumb is to run a term by colleagues before using it.
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