Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A glimpse into my worklife

I left work kind of early -- for me at least -- today. Technically, our work day lasts from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. In all honesty, I can't remember when I've ever gotten in at 9:00 or left at 5:30 -- I'm more of a 9:30 to 6:30 kind of girl. But I've been staying a little later than that pretty much all month -- for example, last night, I left at around 8:10, since I got home at 8:30.

Granted, some of it is that I've been really busy, but a large part of it is that, after my time at the anonymous law firm, I feel guilty leaving the office while it's still light outside. I know I shouldn't -- after all, I get more accomplished in a short day at my current job than I ever did in 8 billable hours.

Today, though, was painful. It all started with an office meeting -- a very long meeting, that, while productive, presented the opportunity for the bosses to discuss their preferred procedures for getting work done, and for various co-workers to complain about the implementation of those procedures. All in all, it was like Festivus for airing workflow grievances.

Afterwards, I got pulled into a lengthy follow-up discussion with some of the assistants where they griped about the things discussed at the meeting, and the difficulties of working with the attorneys in the office. As the sole representative attorney, I listened patiently, nodded my head, expressed appropriate confusion, and even chuckled where appropriate. Most importantly, I made a mental note of something that, while basic to me, most others in my office seem to miss: It's not about the work; it's all about how you deal with people.

If you're nice, and you're patient, and you talk to the support staff like they are your equals, they will like to work for you, even if they don't particularly like the work. If you yell at them, or talk down to them, or blame them for mistakes, then they will not want to do anything for you -- and getting what you need will be like pulling teeth.

It was lunchtime when this was over, and by that point, I was so worn out that I could have gone home then and there. I'm surprised I made it until 6.


Paige Jennifer said...

My dad/boss once gave me the best workplace advice ever:

Don't think of yourself as a [insert job here]. Think of yourself as a psychologist. Figure out the person. Listen. Talk only when relevant. Pull them in. Make it personal. The less you talk about the [insert service or product here], the more successful you will be.

Brilliant and brillianter. People just want to be appreciated and heard. Give them that and they'll reciprocate generously. So simple but so hard for most people to grasp.

dara said...

That's excellent advice. It's funny though, because just before reading this, I was having a conversation with one of my coworkers about the fallout from yesterday, where she told me how her (very effective) approach was similar to mine. I said, "Did you take psychology classes when you were in college?"

She said no, but she does have a small child. So now I'm starting to think that work relationships are not dissimilar to child rearing.

honeykbee said...

Paige's father is brilliant. I've found his advice to be so very true. While most of my comments are at least mildy sarcastic, I will forgo that ritual this time to say that I believe you have stumbled across a great building block of success, just by being a good person.

dara said...

If more people actually practiced the golden rule instead of just preaching it, the world would be a vastly more fabulous place in which to live.