It was Cupcake Monday! Well, for me anyway.
I learned the hard way that, if you want something from someone over whom you have no authority, you have to forget about control and focus on influence. The difference between control and influence is discussed in university-level political science courses. But simply put, it’s whether someone does something for you because they must do it, or because they want to do it. Experience has proven that this distinction is especially important when communicating with one very special group of people within any organization – administrators!
Why are administrators so special? To answer that, I did a quick search for “How are administrators treated?” I found page after page complaining about administrators, the “power trips” they take, the unequal treatment they’ve given clients, etc. The title,
“administrator” seems to have a negative connotation. Whether deserved or not, this reputation creates a bias that results in them having to deal with a lot of unreasonable requests, inconsiderate treatment, and unjust criticism.
We have a new administrator at work. Armed with Dale Carnegie’s principles, and a prediction that I would eventually need something important from her, I decided to assume that she was going to be good at her new job, and that she might appreciate some kindness and words of encouragement from a colleague. I’ll admit, my motives were mainly selfish, but I think they were pretty considerate compared to some of the attitudes toward administrators mentioned above. I came to her with a request: my team had recently been one of many victims of a massive intra-building relocation. I needed a key to my new office door and was told to go to her for help. Knowing that locating one, tiny key in the midst of this relocation project was by no means a simple task, I decided I’d have to avoid jumping straight to my request, and tread lightly if I was to have any hope of gaining her cooperation.
It turns out that being nice to people is actually pretty easy.
With a friendly smile, an enthusiastic personal introduction, some questions about where she worked before, and what brought her to our company followed by some witty comments, and a genuine “Welcome to the company!”, our working relationship appeared to be starting on the right foot. Most importantly, my door key request was acknowledged with a commitment. Success! Perhaps the key would never be found, but our new administrator was on my side. I was in a far better position than a lot of people seem to find themselves.
It turns out, I got way more than I bargained. As time went on, I would occasionally stop by her desk, or randomly meet her in the hallway. Initially, I was excited just to discover that she remembered me and my request for a key. She would update me on the search, and we would exchange pleasantries. Over time, the conversations became more meaningful, and we developed a solid rapport. The words of encouragement and appreciation I offered her started to come back to me in greater measure as she expressed her enjoyment of working with me.
I set out to make her feel valued, and she made me feel even more valued!
When she asked recently about my plans for the weekend, I told her that I was excited to celebrate my birthday and my first Father’s Day simultaneously. On Monday morning, I came into work to find a bag on my desk displaying the logo of a local gourmet bakery containing the best cupcake I’ve ever tasted! I ran over to my new friend’s desk to thank her and found that she waited twenty minutes in line that morning to get me this cupcake! I was touched!
The door key is still hiding at the bottom of a pile somewhere. Even if we did find the door key, the power of Dale Carnegie’s principles would have simply been used for good.
Instead, we found an encouraging, professional friendship; the power was used for awesome. Dale Carnegie’s best-selling book is not titled “How to Influence People.” It’s not a book about getting what you want out of people, and it’s definitely not about controlling them. It’s a book about winning: winning the kind of contest that has no losers.
Learn “How to Win Friends and Influence People” the right way, and use your powers for awesome.Click here for access to all of Dale Carnegie’s Human Relations Principles! You’ll discover that getting what you want isn’t nearly as important as the relationships you build, and the people you build up!