Feb 29, 2016

How To Get Your Way, Finally

Graphic of person holding sign showing the word no
Dear reader,

If you're like me, you might have had this same problem again and again at the office.

Have you ever felt like your coworkers know exactly how to get what they want from you, and you're powerless to persuade them to back off? You probably got buckets of advice from friends and family, and none of it worked out.

Well, it wasn't all bad advice. It was just horrible advice for you. Let's talk for a moment.

 My Dad always tells me that getting the job done right means having the right tool in your hand. This seems like decent advice. The workplace is no different. You need the right tools to get the job done right. This includes finding a way to get your coworkers off your back when you don't have time for their demands.

This is where the bad advice begins, and where the tools you actually need are never used, and get replaced with ones that other people think you need to handle the situation.

How many times have you been told that you need to be more assertive, when you're confronted with something that you don't want to do, or don't have time to do? Maybe your own HR department also sent you on assertiveness training to reinforce the importance of this technique at work.

Well, here's the rub. Assertiveness requires emotional intelligence, and some of us have this in abundance, while others don't. Having it (or not having it) doesn't make you a better person, it just gives you a different personality. If you're emotionally intelligent, assertiveness can be a great tool. If you're not, then you need to find another angle to maintain control of your time at work. It's that simple.

I may be generalizing here, but I would guess that your HR department is made up mostly of people who share common personality traits. These traits, unfortunately, would make them think that being assertive is a panacea for workplace bliss. For some employees, this simply isn't true. The truth is, there are lots of jobs that don't require a lot of emotional intelligence, but demand lots of skill in other areas.

I was one of those employees, in this exact situation. Frankly, my emotional tools and assertiveness skills were never a match for the belligerent alpha-type coworkers who wanted my time, and wouldn't take no for an answer. I needed another way to take control of the situation. So, I finally used another tool in my belt: understanding peoples' incentives.

Incentives are a universal language for all human beings

That's right folks. If your personality isn't on the emotionally intelligent part of the spectrum, you can still understand and influence peoples' behavior by using your psychic powers to know what they'll want from you, even before they ask. Because, the truth is, they'll want anything from you that they can get for free.

This was my great epiphany so many years ago, when I was a defeated and frustrated employee. I realized that my coworkers were addicted to me, like crack. Why? Because they were getting my time for free. It's that simple.

After exploring this idea further, I realized that I had the best bargaining chip all along, but I never used it. You see, when somebody can use your time for free, anything you give them is a gift. Right?

So when you get cornered by an over-assertive coworker who knows exactly what they want and how you'll give it to them, don't feel bad about setting boundaries. Remember that they're addicted to you. Even if you give them half of what they ask for, they're still getting half of what they didn't have before, for free. Right?

It's this type of thinking that provides a foundation for a rational person to develop a long-lasting sense of self-respect and personal worth. At the end of my own journey, I decided that being an employee wasn't my cup of tea, for these exact reasons. So, I decided to take the more extreme path of becoming self-employed. Humans have an amazing ability to be efficient with your time, when they have to pay for it.

Want to learn more? Click here to download my Free eBook right now: Being Assertive Sucks - why we have to do it, and why it feels so wrong.

All the best,

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