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I always ignore…

March 20, 2012

I always ignored this book and assumed it was filled with banal tips like “put urself in other people’s shoes” and “don’t
be a prick.” Fatefully, my housemate April bought the book and left it in the living room…I idly flipped through it last night, landing on a random page and began reading…Well, in the span of 20 minutes reading some random chapter from this book, I feel I have already gained a new perspective and new skill in dealing with people that could have a profound effect on my future life, especially as it relates to my career. I’ve often been frustrated with dealing with other people, especially in professional settings…and I think part of the answer lies in improving my communication and people skills. If the random chapter I read is any indication, I have so much to learn and so much to gain from the book.


The chapter I read made a compelling case to be diplomatic when trying to correct someone else’s error, giving examples and instruction on methods of how to achieve the desired result (correcting something that’s wrong) without making the other party defensive. Today I was considering drafting an email to some higher ups regarding the IT budget and what I considered frivolous purchases being authorized or placed by my boss. The IT budget had been drained by these frivolous purchases, while many employees sorely need repairs to their broken or failing workstations that they depend upon to perform their work. My initial impulse was to draft my message clearly and directly, explaining why I thought the other purchases were frivolous and why I wanted more direct control over the IT budget in order to objectively prioritize It spending to achieve the maximum positive effect on operations and business objectives…I knew the issue needed to be raised, for the sake of our business and the sake of achieving my IT objectives, but I knew that any critique of my boss’s decisions, especially made to her boss, would be met with resentment and retribution. I thought back upon when I had taken similar actions in the recent past, essentially “blowing up” other people who I thought were failing in their responsibilities by emailing their boss in frustration after trying multiple times to resolve the situation directly with the concerned party.


To my dismay, instead of focusing on resolving the issue at hand, when I took such a direct, critical approach to what I saw as other’s mistakes or shortcomings, they focused on defending themselves or criticizing me in retaliation. So, as I’m considering writing this email regarding the IT budget, I foresaw a similar negative result and nearly resigned to keep quiet about the issue, for fear of arousing the ire of my boss. But suddenly, a new voice spoke up in the back of my mind: what about approaching the situation using the diplomatic skills you read about just the very night before? Suddenly, the pieces fell into place, I could see clearly how to approach the situation in such a way as to achieve the results I desired without alienating my colleagues – and not only that, but appearing as an ally instead of an adversary.


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