contentgrrl

I am conTENT. My work is CONtent.

a little sugar for the season

Posted by contentgrrl on December 21, 2007


This week at work, our inboxes are graced with thank-yous to the few very hardworking “Santa’s elves” who brought the Childrens’ Holiday Party to reality this year, broadcast to all employees.

One of the elves responded with fond sentiments for the parents who helped and for the children who participated.

Then, one guy joked, “Yeah….that’s a lot of words….I got “thank you” and “have a very merry Christmas” out of that ;).” He referred to the only capitalized phrases in the single large block of sentiments, obviously meaning to be funny. But as with the other messages, it went to all employees.

Kudos to the guys who made light of it: “And the award for tact goes to…” and “Suggested reading: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.”

Kudos to the ladies and gentlemen who responded to the original sentiments with thanks for making their day.

And kudos to the joker who actually apologized rather well. After a talk with his manager, and a review from another manager. ;^)

But it reminds me of my whippersnapper days when I was still working (at another company) at 3 am due to last-minute changes that had to be done to get the product out the door, and what to my wondering mind did appear but a idea to suggest (via email, of course, to the entire department) that the project should have been user-tested earlier. In hindsight, it was useless and inconsiderate. The next day, I learned that months before I was hired, well, they actually had gone through that testing. And I wasn’t with that company for long after the project ended.

That's a pretty stupid idea, John. I'm afraid I'll have to kill you.So. I commemorated the event with a coffee cup, decorated with a cartoon of a guy in a suit at a meeting, pulling a gun out of his coat, saying, “That’s a pretty stupid idea, John. I’m afraid I’ll have to kill you.”

But thanks to one of the humorous respondents, what inspires me is the lesson of this Carnegie exerpt:

Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment. …The resentment that criticism engenders can demoralize employees, family members and friends, and still not correct the situation that has been condemned.

George B. Johnston of Enid, Oklahoma, is the safety coordinator for an engineering company. One of his responsibilities is to see that employees wear their hard hats whenever they are on the job in the field. He reported that whenever he came across workers who were not wearing hard hats, he would tell them with a lot of authority of the regulation and that they must comply. As a result, he would get sullen acceptance, and often after he left, the workers would remove the hats.

He decided to try a different approach. The next time he found some of the workers not wearing their hard hat, he asked if the hats were uncomfortable or did not fit properly. Then he reminded the men in a pleasant tone of voice that the hat was designed to protect them from injury and suggested that it always be worn on the job. The result was increased compliance with the regulation with no resentment or emotional upset.

As Mary Poppins loves to sing, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” I’ve learned that even if I think pretty good with my keyboard, I come across much better when I let some ideas wait their turn. And when it’s truly worth the trouble to take the time to speak to someone privately on the phone or in person, you have the chance to let small talk and a human connection open doors.

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One Response to “a little sugar for the season”

  1. Melissa said

    Hey this is a little weird, but I have been trying to find that mug! Where did you get yours? I bought one for a friend 10 years ago and she recently lost it.

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