Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Managing People (2)

This may just be repetition of what I said the last time I wrote about this.

What we want is to set up situations in which we get what we want, or at least what we absolutely need, from people--I include in this our professors, but really this is all true for anyone.

I was talking with a client who was telling me about accommodations that she was getting for her disabilities. Now, I'm totally down with accommodations. But that doesn't mean that making accommodations may not require someone to do extra work. It may be right that they do the extra work, but that doesn't mean that they don't still view it as extra work. One thing we can try to do with people is make a point of recognizing their effort, and make a point of letting them know that we're trying to ask as little as possible. Beyond that, we can also seek solutions that minimize the need for accommodations that create extra work for others. It is reasonable to expect a certain amount of feedback and assistance from our professors, but it is also reasonable to recognize that our needs require effort on their part, and even if they're happy to give it, it's still effort, and if your relationship isn't particularly good, your deserving assistance does not mean that assistance will be offered with pleasure. Note that this is not about being nice to people for the sake of being nice, or about being shy about expressing your needs, or afraid to ask for help. This is about figuring out plans that will maximize that assistance that you do get.

Along those lines, I was talking with a different client about her situation. She mentioned to me that she had come to a realization about the importance of keeping her word when dealing with the people she was studying (she's an anthropologist), and later she mentioned that she was getting better responses from her chair/advisor. The link she didn't make was that she had been treating him differently--especially with respect to keeping her word as far as delivering drafts. Again, this is about making plans that lead to getting the best response that you can out of people. From one perspective, you might say that it's a purely selfish motivation (for all you cynics out there); the fact that it relies on treating others well is merely expedience. As the saying goes: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

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