A cow in Willesden

Public psychotherapy for a veteran auditor

Teach people how to treat you

In the bookshop last week I was looking for a replacement of a book I must have lent away. It’s a short simple book on the topic of leadership, which asserts there are 6 approaches to leadership, and while some are generally effective and some not, they are all important tools to have available. It goes on to explore the circumstances in which each style is most appropriate, and encourages managers to have an awareness of their default style, and to consciously assess the preferable style to use in any given situation. Handy book.

Didn’t find it, of course, because I get lost in bookshops. I see a title that interests me and I get pulled in, and end up spending my break in the wrong section of the shop, often walking out with books I can’t afford to buy and don’t have time to read. (I don’t mean that I stole them, just that when the credit card bill comes it will be tricky).

It occurred to me there that one of the most important human activities (judging by the volume of non-fiction writing) must be trying to deduce what other people are like, how to treat them and not annoy them, and other ways to pigeon-hole individuals in an apparently non-prejudicial way.

I came across this article a while ago where someone has made up a cheat-sheet on herself which she hands out to colleagues (and possibly potential partners, its been a while, can’t remember)http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-happiness-project/201103/in-which-i-create-preference-card-myself

It seemed to me that that would be a better way to achieve the same objective – better in that it is gives more accurate, relevant output, and better in that it is not a shortcut to validate class, race, religion and gender discrimination. Lets face it, any¬†personality profile tool, with its 4 or 9 or 16 pigeon holes, probably does not capture the almost infinite depth of a pluralistic cultural heritage, it does not account for a person’s evolving personality and our species’ vast ability to learn and adapt, and there are many flaws in the process behind all of them. If you want to know what someone thinks or how they want to be treated, why not ask them?

So here’s my first attempt at a Preference Card for myself:

I’m an ideas man. If you want to talk about ideas, I’m interested. If you want some ideas generated, I’m your man. If you want to get into detail about stuff that’s already happening, or gossip about who is doing what with who, go away.

I get bored easily. I got bored in the time it took to type that last sentence. If you are not going to be entertaining, can you at least please be quick about it?

I have an uncanny ability to understand things, especially things which you are telling me very slowly, which you may have told me before, or read in the paper this morning, the same paper that I read. Also very simple things, I find easy to understand. When I interrupt your story to say “yeah, I get it,” that means you need to stop talking. I am not reassuring you with a verbal tick, I am telling you to shut up.

I do not like drama. If you are upset or have any other emotions to share, can you please dispose of them before you come and talk to me.

If you CC: me on an email, I will probably not read it. I have enough “just FYI” emails to last me the rest of my life, if you are CC:’ing me, then I assume you are indifferent about my involvement. If you ever catch me listening in on your phone conversations, that may indicate I have changed my views, and now I want to see copies of emails that you are sending to other people. Don’t hold your breath.

I don’t care where you bought your shoes or your tie.

I have an in-built filing and retrieval system. It is efficient and quiet, and filters out obsolete and irrelevant data. I also have terrible handwriting, which I struggle to make sense of. There is no point in me writing down what you say. It does not mean I don’t care or am not interested – those clues are more subtle and you will need to work harder to uncover them.

Do not attempt to use PowerPoint on me. I am immune to its effects. Your ideas have been polluted, your message lost and enfeebled in the process of putting it into a ‘slide deck’ format. Your presentation is lifeless and it attempts to numb my brain, but I have learned the way to see through it all through my +3 visor. I am not reading your slides and watching your enhanced smart-art magic tricks, I am listening to what you are saying. And what you are saying has gaping holes in it, and every slide deck on the planet would not produce enough landfill to fill those holes. Why have you done this to yourself. I will not be an accomplice to your bamboozlement.

Might need to change a couple of words before I start handing it out at work, but quite enjoyed writing that. Why not have a go at one of your own, give me some suggestions for what would be a good line on it.

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6 responses to “Teach people how to treat you

  1. S August 19, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Love this. Will try and encourage its use at my workplace. I might write mine and end it with “and for that reason, I do not fit in here and would like to hand in my resignation with immediate effect”.

    • A Cow in Willesden August 21, 2011 at 11:22 pm

      With an idea like this, you are more likely to get promoted for your positive contribution to improving the morale and coordination of the team. Maybe if you implement it for all your colelagues, you can add that line to a couple of carefully chosen among them, and remove the need to look elsewhere?

  2. The Lone Auditor August 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I almost cc’d you on something yesterday, thought twice after remembering your personal charter / pref card!

    • A Cow in Willesden August 26, 2011 at 8:08 am

      Yeah, I noticed I haven’t had as many CC’s since I wrote that. I’ll have to get it laminated and stuck on my desk. Or maybe laminated and stuck on everyone else’s desk – I already know what I like and don’t like.

      But now I’m curious and I want ot know what was in the email, what did I miss out on …

  3. ITauditSecurity August 27, 2011 at 6:29 am

    A more friendly way to do this is to post your Myer-Briggs letters. Not as effective, but less in-your-face. Most work places I’ve been at lately stressed getting along and inclusion. This is definitely going the other way, which isn’t bad, just not politically correct. But if we were more honest with each other at work, business would save a lot of money…

    • A Cow in Willesden August 27, 2011 at 10:06 pm

      I have to admit that the MBTI is a pretty scientifically sound approach – among the ones I’ve seen its certainly my favourite. One pro for the prefernce card idea is that you get to decide what features are important – the MBTI is fairly broad in its descriptions (necessarily I suppose if its grouping people into just 16 categories), so you can understand the general attitude but not necessarily understand (and change your behaviour in respect of) the things that are important to the subject.
      Its a balance between understanding someone as an individual, which is time consuming, and grouping people together and understanding traits of that group.
      If I had thought of it, I;d have mentioned star signs, which kind of do the same thing (although the “science” is clearly flawed). Would have been interesting to analyse the similarities and differences.
      Thanks for the comment, btw.
      Cow

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