Thursday, November 29, 2012

Re-Run: A little honest bribery can go a long way

Whenever I start a new job, I purchase a lot of chocolate in various varieties. Then I put it in an easy to see, easy to transport cup. Then I walk around the building and introduce myself, bestowing candy on anyone who wants it.

I trade people’s names and a hello for candy. I am always careful to visit the Help Desk people (which, for those of you not in the tech industry, are the folks who usually manage your email, passwords, computer issues, etc.), the receptionist, IS/IT (if they are separate from Help Desk), any executive assistants, and my immediate co-workers/team. I want my first interaction with these people to be pleasant, and I’m not ashamed to say so; as a matter of fact, many people smile and laugh when you tell them that you’re bribing them for good will in advance.

That’s the trick to bribery. It’s a blatant means of manipulation, and failing to acknowledge that blatancy can annoy or upset people. Being obvious about what you’re doing sets them at ease, and people who meet you with a smile and the association of a treat, are more likely to think of you fondly the next time you run into them.

For example, you meet Mary the receptionist. You’ve passed her desk and know she collects bears, so, when you’re out and about, bring her a bear. A non-creepy bear, btw. Nothing to inspire concerns you might want to date her or stalk her, and nothing so expensive she feels obligated for receiving it. The point is—bears, candy or good conversation—you are letting Mary know she is important because you thought about Mary even when she was not around; and that means a lot to people. It could also be things like, if Mary is busy, sign for the package for her if that’s possible. You get the gist; do something kind of a tangible nature. Feel free to tell her it’s a bribe if you’re doing it just to get on her good side (feel free to let her know you want to be on her good side), and you will be banking good fortune against a need in the future…and you might make a friend along the way.

A lot of techniques I suggest in this blog are methods of manipulation; the point that I try to keep clear, that I continue to strive for, is that you be upfront and transparent with people. It often makes them laugh, yes, but its a vital ingredient to the natural integrity on which they will base their opinions of you. You want them happy. You want to associate yourself with a good thing. But you also want to take those baby steps of good communication and connection to the next level, which is very hard to do if those people feel you're in it only for yourself, and are willing to manipulate people in negative ways to get what you want.

You do want to manipulate people, yes. But you want to do in positive ways, so people understand what you are doing and who you are. And it certainly doesn't hurt if the first thing they think of when they see you is tasty candy.

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