Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Three good things: the secret to dealing with everyone, Part 2

Last time we talked about how remembering three good things about everyone you deal with will help when dealing with and confronting them about less-than-stellar behavior. This generally works with folks, but sometimes people can be a little obstinate when others call them on their behavior, or they even get a little snarky or passive-aggressive back at you. While this sort of pushback is understandable--no one likes to be called out--it's still unacceptable. There are a few things you can do to stop cruddy behavior towards you. The first and main thing to remember about bad behavior is that it only works when two people engage in it. If one person is being defensive and passive-aggressive and immature, and the other person isn't falling for it, then the first person isn't going to get very far, are they?

Let's say your project is in Revit, and you need the mechanical engineer's model on Thursday, and it's Tuesday now. Getting models out of this guy has been like getting blood from a turnip, and he generally acts like he woke up on the wrong side of the bed every day since August of 1993. Asking for cooperation can be a great way to disarm cranky people. The first step is to stay polite and positive, focused on the request:

You: Hi, Mac. I'm calling because we're compiling the model to show the client on Friday, so we need your model by 2pm on Thursday.
Mac: Yeah, well, that's not happening.
You: For what reason?
Mac: [annoyed sigh] Cuz it's not done.
You: Well, we're only partway through DDs, so I understand that it's not all completely done. However, we need as much as you can get by Thursday at 2 so we can compile the models and show the client what kind of magic we're working with this software.
Mac: Yeah, well, it ain't gonna be a lot.
You: Every bit that you can do by Thursday afternoon will be really helpful, Mac. These 3D models really help our client understand what we're doing and how we solve problems before they get built, y'know?

The next step is to ask for cooperation through problem solving.

Mac: Yeah, well...we'll see.
You: [politely] Is your model is kinda incomplete or really incomplete, or...?
Mac: Well...[annoyed sigh] you guys keep sending us a new model every week and I can't just remodel this stuff that fast.
You: Ah. So, what's involved in modeling ductwork when it changes, say like in that north end of the lobby where we moved those soffits around?
Mac: Well, [more annoyed sighing] it's just a lot to do, and to change.
You: I imagine it is a lot to change. The reason I ask is that maybe we can prioritize what ducts really need to be modeled by Thursday afternoon, and maybe that's more doable than trying to do everything.

Finally, you can be a little more blunt about asking for cooperation if need be.

Mac: [yet another annoyed sigh] Well, maybe. Look, you can't just call up and ask me to drop everything and get you a model in two days.
You: Mac, I can understand your frustration. It seems like when I call you with a deadline or if I need something, it's really hard for you to get it done. I want to make sure that whenever I call you with a change or a deadline, you have what you need to make that work. So tell me what you need to make deadlines, whether it's this Thursday at 2pm or whenever--what would help you?

Mac would have to be a real schmoe to decide to play hardball with you at this point. You're flat out asking for what would help him, which I bet no one asks him very often. And speaking of hardball, you can use polite hardball when someone is making cranky comments under their breath or acting really immaturely.

"Mac, it sounds like you don't like my idea--what is it about it that you think won't work?"
"Wow, Mac, that sounded like a dig at me--did you mean it that way?"
"Y'know, Mac, it seems like the morning of every major deadline we've had so far, you're out of the office until a couple of hours before the time it's due. What's going on? Is everything okay?"

Today's communication skills were adapted from the book Civilized Assertiveness For Women: Communication With Backbone...Not Bite by Judith McClure, Ph.D. It's a great book, and though it's aimed at women, the communication skills Dr. McClure (an educational psychologist) developed and writes about are perfectly good for both genders to use, and it's on Amazon and Barnes & Noble's website as well. I'm still working on a couple of deadlines right now, so there may be a gap in posting for the next few days. In the meantime, if you have a question you'd like to ask or a topic you'd like to see discussed here, feel free to post it in the comments or to email me in the sidebar. Thanks!

No comments:

Post a Comment