Making Your Point versus…

National Day Panorama

Two, brief points to make… First, a quiz.

#1. The Long View

Scenario:

A few days ago, I was standing on a sidewalk in a local neighborhood, chatting with a friend and deciding where to go for dinner. As we were speaking, a police cruiser pulled up behind a vehicle that was double-parked in front of the row of restaurants where we were standing.

The officer didn’t do anything, just sat in his car…it looked as though he was catching up on paperwork; but, of course, I don’t know for sure. After about ten minutes, as my friend and I were getting underway and crossing the street for our dinner destination, the pizza delivery guy responsible for the illegally parked vehicle exited of the pizzeria with his pizzas for delivery.

As he opened the hatch of his car, the officer tapped on his horn, lightly, and said, “Sir, your car is parked illegally…”

Question: What did the Pizza Delivery Guy do? Did he…

  1. Say, “I’m sorry, officer, I didn’t mean to take so much time picking up these pizzas. I won’t do it, again. Thank you!” …and drive away? Or, did he…
  2. Say, “Geez man, cut me a break! I’m just trying to earn a living, here, man. Why you pigs gotta harass me?”

Ready with your answer?

You got it: B. (And those were his exact words.)

Whereupon, the cop got out of his car, closed the door, leaned in through the window to grab his ticket book and began walking up the street toward the Man of the Cooling Pizzas.

My sense is that, had Delivery Guy gone for Option A, no ticket would have been written. Thus, herein lies today’s metaphor. On the heels of “It’s Easier to Apologize Than to Ask Permission” comes “Weighing the Value of Making a Point versus Realizing One’s Goal.”

Okay, Delivery Guy was out of line; yet, even when a point you may wish to make is valid, even when you are right, it’s never a bad idea to assess and be aware of the ramifications of taking a particular stand as might affect your project, production or deadlines.

Whether it’s another town, another state, another country or simply another union leader; best to keep one’s eye on the overall goal when negotiating one’s way to Production.

When being treated disrespectfully or condescendingly, when some bureaucrat, official or Relative of the Client is throwing weight around or simply being obstructive; remember that this is most likely not personal…this person probably treats everyone this way.

So, the choice is

  1. To attempt to enlighten this person to the waste that negativity and obstructionism engenders, to the value of you and your team and the importance of your own priorities and deadlines…and fail. Or
  2. To be aware of all those things, yourself; keep them to yourself and find the best way to most easily navigate your path to successful production…sometimes acquiescing to what you may believe is beneath you or acceding to some requirement that seems ridiculous (I say “seems,” as the fact is that you may not actually have all the pertinent facts…see “Exploration of Assumption”). After all, really, who’s gonna know and what’s it gonna matter? Frankly, when the bowing and scraping results in a show going up on time and coming in under budget, who’s gonna care that you had an Obsequious Moment or two in insuring that success.

Fortunately, as a Westerner, I am not as culture-bound to the concept of saving face. In fact, having the sensitivity to that very powerful cultural dynamic has more than once informed my own actions in the face of what may seem Ridiculous. Giving the guy across the table the sense that he has won something can only help you, down the line. It’s not personal to you; but it may be very personal to your Obstructor.

Have a slow fuse and, as I believe I’ve mentioned previously, take your time in reacting or responding. Consider all variables and possible results and take the path of least resistance and best possible result.

Save the sarcasm and vitriol for the Cast Party, an illustrative anecdote in a future conference presentation, some time later. Avoid losing by Winning.

#2 Information as currency

While I do appreciate the philosophy and fact that Information is Power, I extrapolate from that that the more people on my team in possession of that Information, the more Powerful my team becomes. So, I share.

Many a time will come when a manager, client or executive will be encountered who considers Information to only have value when only s/he has it. There are people who withhold information until they deem you need it…usually shortly after irrevocable and costly decisions have been made that would have been made differently had said Information been made available, up front. (I know; wtf!)

Ergo, my position is generally to share as much as possible, when it’s possible. Share with your team how you are making your decisions, early on. Give them a sense of parameter, client idiosyncrasy, possible roadblocks and eventualities that may materialize down the line and they will be more trusting of your judgement when the pace ramps up and decisions have to be made and actions taken more quickly…they will be a team willing to trust, as they’ve been trusted.

The added advantages to this is that

  1. The way is paved for ad hoc delegation of responsibility. An informed assistant can make better on-the-spot decisions if s/he has the information…information there will not likely be time to communicate when delegating in situ. And,
  2. When a situation arises that calls for rapid exploration of options and concomitant decision-making; the information-sharer is more likely to be surrounded with an informed team, capable of making recommendations from disparate perspectives, thus increasing the likelihood of the best possible solution being found and implemented.

Granted, there will always be things that need to be kept confidential or situations that would require expansive, laboriously-told backstory to catch-up. One cannot share everything. I simply offer that it is likely more productive on several levels to eschew hoarding; share what can be shared.

Imho.

“imho” is also the title of the free eBook, available for iPad (not iPhone, sorry) from the Apple iBooks Store, containing the first 20 posts of this blog and the foundational bases for the methodologies and approaches to creating compelling experience that are cited and applied throughout this blog.

5 thoughts on “Making Your Point versus…

  1. The question of whether to confront rudeness/ poor behavior in mid-project is always a thorny one. Done right, it can release a huge amount of positive energy into the project that was blocked off (especially as folks feel safe to really participate with their entire hearts). If it doesn’t go well, you get walled off at best and fired at worst.

    • …and best to not get fired…!
      Before it gets to that, I’m suggesting that mouthing off to someone from whom one seeks cooperation and even benevolence is likely not the best approach…as cooperation will likely remain absent and, given hierarchy, dismissal (or at least a ticket!) will likely result…

  2. I think there’s also a huge difference between a client demonstrating rude/obstructing behavior and a co-worker…while there’s a time and place for placating, a co-worker who can’t play nice poisons the well for everybody. How have you dealt with this situation in the past?

    • Hm, Stefan, yes; more than once I’ve discovered that someone on my team has turned out to be “toxic.” As a Leader (Director / Manager), my first tack is to turn the resultant conflict(s) into a Learning Opportunity. Take that person aside and share, essentially, the Lesson of this very post…illustrating or articulating the absence of need for opinion and sniping when there is a job to be done, a goal in sight, a team to maintain. As a part of that, though, would be a mutual “Exploration of Assumption” – my own assumption that the employee is perhaps a troublemaker but also exploring the assumptions or point of view of this Toxic Teammate…find out what the source of this negativity might be. Often, then, the solution offers itself. Not always. Sometimes the “cool your jets or find other work” conversation must finally come into play. I do, though, find that more often than not there is some source to the problem that is more easily addressed and resolved than the need for the Drastic.

      On the other hand, the true personal test comes when the problem is toxicity of a team-MATE. One’s own Inner Zen must be mustered when having to deal and work with a member of a team who doesn’t appreciate the value of “team.” Each of us is responsible for our own Boiling Points, and the avoidance of same. Keeping one’s cool, walking away and, if the dynamic persists, looking to Leadership to deal with the problem is pretty much the spectrum of possibility. A good and observant Leader will be ahead of the problem. Here’s to more good and observant Leaders…

  3. Critical and Creative Thinking enables us to think more deeply about situations and concerns, before rushing to “timely” execute commentary that can harm, affect, or influence someone/something positively or negatively. We must be more deliberate and accurate in shaping our thoughts before condemning or justifying anyone or anything.

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