Blame the charming new romantic comedy movie Ruby Sparks for the explosion of penned-in cubicle workers shouting “If only!!!”
Ruby Sparks, starring and written by Zoe Kazan, is about a once successful young writer named Calvin (played by her real-life significant other Paul Dano). One night Calvin has a dream about a gal named Ruby Sparks whom he begins to use in his writing. One day she magically turns up in his apartment. And, much to the amazement of Calvin, she does whatever he writes her to do.
Were we all in possession of that magic wand capable of provoking co-workers to do our bidding when it comes to improving personal hygiene, creating beneficial company-wide programs and, not least of all, getting raises and promotions. And, just like Ruby, our office mates would have no clue that they had been “worked on” through our under-the-radar strategies.
Here are five types of people in your work orbit who are good subjects for Calvin-like persuasion strategies. The subtle approach works best.
1. Your boss or supervisor. You may think you’re doing good by making suggestions about changes that will benefit staff or clients. However, if all your boss cares about is the bottom line, he won’t value your suggestion.
Solution: Find out your boss’s WIIFM (what’s in it for me) quotient – what he or she cares about above all else. It’s critical to spend a bit of time trying to understand the boss’s style, needs and values, so that you can frame comments and ideas in ways that resonate with his key focus areas. Then frame your requests accordingly. It’s important to demonstrate that getting the boss to give you what you want will not require any alteration of her unswerving vision.
2. People who don’t see the value of your idea. Many supervisors hear the word “new idea” and close up immediately. The way around this is to size up how much influence your boss has in making your idea a reality. In other words, is your boss simply a naysayer, or a naysayer with actual power to stand in your way?
Solution: If your boss is truly a person whose impact can derail your plans, then refrain from being confrontational or trying to “convince” him of the validity of your project. Instead, your demeanor should convey a desire to understand the supervisor’s position, and a curiosity about why she doesn’t find value in your suggestion. This stance may help you learn about an issue or sore point you can address.