Pick Better Fights With Your Boss
11:49PM Jul 31, 2020
And hello hackers. My name is Fred. Some of you may know me, others might not. I've been doing artwork for the hackers on planet earth conferences since the fifth hope was the first one. I worked on the last one to the circle Pope and put together a little graphic for you this year for the 2020 conference. Now, you saw the graphic already, but what you didn't see is I've put a few easter eggs. We're going to update the site with this new interactive version of the of the image If you click on the buttons right here, you'll see that you can change the letters
and the numbers.
And if you do the right combination,
you'll see that
a few easter eggs will pop up.
Now, I hope that keeps you busy for a few minutes. And if you like it if you enjoy it, let me know. And I'll let you get back to the conference. Have a good one. See you next year.
Shout out hope 2020 we've got 60 seconds. Let's do this.
Do you remember your first issue of 2600
you remember your first meeting that you went to?
Remember the first binary you compile from source
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What about the first script you wrote? bash, Python list. Something else.
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What about Docker
three to one
you're a hacker.
Hi, and welcome to pick better fights with your boss. There's nothing worse than being right all the time but having no power to persuade or make change. In this talk, Nita is going to tell us how to talk to our boss talk to the suits in our work life and get things done. Neda O'Neill has worked her way up from Help Desk director to VP of it at the ASPCA and during the early stages of the corona virus crisis in the US She worked at the Center for court innovation, helping them to deal with the new challenges with it, and the needs of remote work. As a woman, she's expected to take care of everybody else's feelings. But as a tech leader, she needs people to hear and take action on hard and complex issues. And so she's going to help us to do a better job to do just that.
Hey, Dad. Thank you so much. I am so excited to be addressing hope I've come to this conference year after year wondering how I can contribute. And I'm really excited to do this. And I'll tell you why in a slider, too. So let me tell you where I'm coming from. I just got a very capable introduction. But I will also gloss it to say I'm a nerd who claim the letter. The first half of my career, I was a tech monkey who did everything. I was a Linux systems administrator. I was a coder, I did this I did that back and forth problem solving. But honestly, the soft skills I was always very, very hard for me, until I realized I could apply some of the same problem solving skills I used in the tech world, on the people side. This is why I think I might be helpful to all of you tonight. But I am talking to you from the other side from the management side. And as my introducer mentioned, I have now become a manager of managers. So I've gotten even deeper into the people. We talk about you and what I'm assuming about you, I'm assuming for you hard skills are relatively easy, just like they were for me, but so called soft skills are what's hard. Now, what I don't assume is that you're necessarily bad at soft skills or that you're not trying. In fact, the fact that you're attending this talk makes it likely that you're relatively conscientious about your soft skills and you're working on them, but they're hard for you. You struggle, it's stressful and you don't like how it's going. Additionally, I think a lot of people who come to a talk like this might have that combination of being both stubborn Shai. Honestly, a lot of us in it generally are both stubborn and shy. This is a useful combination in some ways. But in other ways, it can be very difficult in a couple, it produces a couple patterns that we'll talk about. Let's talk about your boss. What I'm assuming for the purposes of this talk is that they are an actual human being that they are someone who ultimately can be reasoned with, that they're not seeking to incarnate. This may not actually be true for all of you, some of you may be working for genuinely evil people. And I'm just going to be upfront with you that if your boss is not a human being, this talk will only help you so much, you might get some helpful hints out of it, but ultimately, not everyone can be reasoned with and you may need to leave your job. Here's the other thing. If your boss is an actual human being, they have a boss to their boss probably has a boss. All of these people feel whipped by the system. And this is important to note and this is one of the reasons why a lot of the techniques that I'm going to outline work, because you're all human beings, you're all suffering under the same system. And when it's you and your boss in a room, it's two people in a room, and you can hopefully reason with one another. And we talk about what we're going to do in this talk, I'm going to primarily give you two things. I'm going to give you some hard truths. And then I'm going to give you some better tools. Part of the reason why I'm going to give you hard truths is I want you to know I'm being straight with you. A lot of my message is going to sound a little Kumbaya, work with compassion, work with people, you're better together. But I'm real too. This is these are things that actually work in the real world where life is unfair. I'm going to give you better tools. Because I think like you like me, like most of us who attend hope, tools or the way that we work. I want to talk to your strengths and give you tips and tricks that will actually be functional.
Let's talk about the first hard truth. power imbalance is real. This is also our first Haiku. Can't come Much the deck is stacked against you, you can't change people. In particular, one thing I'm going to harp on is you can't change your boss, none of the tips other than by quitting your job and actually literally changing your boss. None of the tips in here are going to be about making your boss a better person making them do their jobs better, although some of them are going to be about meeting them where they're at. This is just real life. The deck is stacked against you, however, you feel more hopeless or helpless and hopeless probably than you actually are. There are a lot of tools out there that are available and a lot of ones I'm going to cover in this talk. They give you a way to work with what you can can. We've all heard the Serenity Prayer, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference of clearly I don't know this for a new pair. Sorry about that. But the key is to think about where you can actually be useful where you can actually be helpful, what are the actual levers you can really pull in real life? Here's the first set of tools. Your first set of tool or set of tools tools is really about is really about versatility and adaptability might right and brute force are their tools, you use your whole box and don't learn helplessness. So what I mean about this is a lot of times when people get backed against the wall by the system, when they feel ground down, they have a tendency to push back with equal force. If something bad happens to me, I'm going to react strongly. And if it doesn't work, I'm just going to push harder. But the truth is, this is relatively often ineffective. And the truth is, you can't necessarily use brute force against something that's bigger than you. However, versatility, adaptability and using these tools are ways to do that. And there ways that play to your strengths rather than playing to the strengths of the system. can also beat them with the toolbox as one of our commenters said. physically stronger than them, which is relatively rare. Let me talk about one of the most common ways tech people learn helplessness. One of the most common ways this happens is that people learn a mode of either being totally passive and customer service oriented, I have to do whatever the user asked me, I have to just figure it out. I can't ever say no, or aggressiveness on the tech person I know the right thing to do. If they asked me something crazy, I'm going to tell them that they're crazy. And never the twain shall meet. When you feel like only one avenue or the other one is open to you, you're going to get shut down all the time. Or you're going to feel like there's no way that you can make your voice heard, or really make any change whatsoever.
of the most important tools I'm going to give you is how to be assertive without being aggressive, how to be assertive in a cooperative and compassionate manner. Because this is a way that people around you again, assuming they're human, that people around you will be rejected. to one of the best, most amazing tools I can give you. sounds incredibly simple, but it is incredibly effective. And that's the phrase, here's my idea. This is assertive, not mean, you're doing them a favor, because thinking is so hard. This is what I mean. I have recently been at a consulting gig where someone had been trying for years and years to get people to move off the internal file servers onto a cloud based file storage. For simple idea it is What is it now? 2020. It's time for this sort of thing to happen. Years and years they've been bringing up to their higher bosses. I think we should move to cloud based storage. I think that this is not very good for business continuity. What do you guys think, was essentially their soft sell? They did this because they're worried about being too aggressive. They did this because they think that if they state their opinions too boldly, they're going to get pushback. They've done this because other people in their department take the more aggressive approach. And when they take a more aggressive approach, they get shut down immediately. However, I was able to get this moving within a couple weeks of my arrival much to their shock because I took a here's my idea approach. The reason why people often say no or just staring you in bafflement, when you say that there is a problem is because literally they have no idea how to solve it. This is particularly true of managers who, for the most part, have significantly less technical skill than you do. That's the sad truth. implementation is hard. People may say no, because they can't see the way show them, they'll follow. And this is true for things that are as banal as we need to move off the file servers on to cloud based storage, as it is for things like I've noticed that this policy affects some people in my department more than it affects other people, particularly this policy of affects the hourly staff much more than the salaried staff. I think it's unfair. I was at an organization where I brought that to management's attention. And they essentially said, I don't think we can do anything about it. It's just unfortunate. So I tried to here's my idea approach. And admittedly, the first couple of ideas. They said, No, we can't do that, either. No, that's crazy. But eventually, I got them talking. They got used to talking to me just hearing the here's my idea. And then eventually, they came up with something in response to one of my ideas, not exactly one of my ideas that actually worked. The power of here's my idea is that it gives people something specific to argue against. It's like you meet them halfway. When you work with management in particular, and you tell them there's a problem. Their heart rates go up, they start to panic. They wonder, oh, no. Am I going to get in trouble for this? What What do I do and if they don't see a way to step forward, or solve the puzzle, They'll often just want to ignore it. So here's my idea is a way to just get something out there that they can interface with and argue against, that feels much safer to them. And I will say, here's my idea doesn't mean that people will pick your idea. Here's my idea is just a way to get the conversation started.
sometimes someone already has an idea on the table when you're talking and their idea is wrong. So what do you do that?
What if I told you, you can bring up your idea without actually saying their idea is that what if I told you, you can listen to something like your boss says we need to go to with product A because we have to meet audit requirements and it has to be under budget, and also blah, blah, blah, boring boss thing and blah, blah, blah, boring boss. Reason number four, who knows what they're saying at that point. You can say, you might be thinking in your heart of hearts, all of those reasons are stupid. What's much more Important is security and usability. You can be thinking that but what you can say is, Oh, I see that makes sense. And also, let's also look for a product that has usability features and security features. You don't necessarily in order to bring another idea on the table, have to put it in opposition to an idea that's already there. And I'm going to say this can actually benefit you as well. If when you hear your boss talking about blah, blah, blah, boring audit requirements below the board of directors says, HR policies, whatever, if you find your interest leaning, that's okay to feel that way. But the truth is, if you can acknowledge that these things are important, they're just not important to you and you want to look for a solution that encompasses both of these things, you will come up with better solutions and you'll come up with solutions that are better reported. Excuse me, better support it. Here's another situation though. So Sometimes you're in a situation where there's an explicit conflict, we have to pick product A or product B, I'll say in the majority of these situations, in my experience, both product A and product B are actually terrible.
So you're in the
situation, pick this one or that. Here's the trick, question your shared assumptions to shut that nonsense down. When somebody says we need to use either model with a or monolith B to track this program to do this, to do that, you can always about what is what is the assumption shared by the idea that these are only two choices. So when they're giant, monolithic programs, one assumption that's shared clearly is that you need to use a single program that you can't use interoperable or interconnected programs. You might also be in a situation where people think we have to either develop something custom in house or pay a vendor to develop something custom. Again, you can say is it possible that there are commodity programs we can interconnect or that we can use a system like FileMaker or Salesforce That is somehow in between these two options. Again, if it doesn't make any sense, anytime there seems to be only one choice or another, you can use your problem solving skills to question if this is really definitely the case, or if there's a way to step back and step outside the conflict. Because the sad truth is, most of our environments are structured for conflict in one way or another. Even at nonprofits, which is where I've done the majority of my work life. The different departments are often structured in such a way that it's as if everyone is competing for the same budgetary pie. Everyone's competing for the attention of the board of directors. There are just artificial conflicts that are built into the way people normally operate. But who benefits from this? If you and Marsha from HR are constantly in conflict? Does this help Marsha from HR does it help you to continue to maintain this conflict?
a structure conflict anytime you're in a room with another human Being including your boss, and you're wondering why are we at loggerheads. Really take that question seriously and see is Do either of us benefit from being in conflict? And is there possibly a way that we can step back and get on the same team?
on the same team is actually a tool in your toolkit?
There are a couple ways to do
this one, one way to do this is your problems are my problems. This is obviously a move of compassion to a certain extent, a move of cooperation, but it's also a move basically, that's the first step in business analysis when you're specking out a product. So again, your boss is saying blah, blah, blah, HR requirements, blah, blah, blah, auditing, blah, blah, blah, Board of Directors budget, whatever they're saying, by choosing to take what they're saying seriously and give it a certain level of credence. You are making a move that says we are already on the same team in a way it's kind of like an Aikido move that says I'm just going to redirect the energy that could be accomplished and To energy of us working together, a lot of times people will take your direction in this way, if you start using these statements just start acting as if you are on the same team with someone, we're solving these problems together, people will find themselves just following suit, you can change just the way that you're talking about it. So when they say, I have this problem, acts like it is your problem to solve, start using those words. Let's think about how we can fix that. That sort of thing. Now another move of this, which is actually a super awesome power move, which is also mentioned by Chris Voss and never split the difference. Chris Voss is a former FBI hostage negotiator. So he actually uses this technique when someone has sent him a thumb and they're demanding $10 million by Friday, is my problems are your problems. So let's say your boss says something like we can't possibly use this new security program that you're talking about because we don't have the money in the budget. Your instinct might be to say But I need it. I can't possibly without it. What am I going to do? This keeps this problem is your problem and your boss is just secretly hoping that it goes away probably at that point. But if you say something like, Okay, I see what you're saying, we don't have a lot of money in the budget. Here. Here's what I think we need to solve together. I think that we need to find a way to keep the users from giving away their passwords. I think that we need to find a way to monitor when this has happened. Bla, bla, bla start start listing out the things. just choosing to use those restatements will trick people into following suit. And again, this might sound like an incredibly simple, silly kind of trick but the truth is, especially in the context where you have already made the first move of meeting them where they're at. It will work and it has worked for me all the time in multiple different multiple different companies with multiple different types of people with people inside and outside of the IT department and certainly within Direct supervisors. Along those lines, I really encourage you to understand what your boss actually wants. I really encourage you to figure out what's making them tick, and particularly what performance factors influence their job and what their boss thinks of the job that they're doing. In general, I can tell you what most bosses want are predictability and stability. They need to meet their metrics, they need to predict what the costs are going to be. They need to deliver their projects on time because they want to stay out of the doghouse. This is this is more or less what they're mostly looking for. So in general, you can have in your mind, even if knowing nothing else about your boss that I need to understand what his his or her main metrics are, I need to know more or less what the budget is and work together with them to see and make sure that their costs are predictable. I need to understand that there are certain times of the year in which I can ask for money and other times of the year and Which I'm less able to ask for money, and so on and so forth. And just knowing this and understanding things a little bit from their perspective will help you to have more useful conflicts when you really do need to have complex with them. So you may be thinking that that's not my job, doesn't matter. The truth is you can't change your boss except by quitting your job and literally changing your bosses, you can only change yourself or getting a new job, obviously. Now, a lot of time, you'll be given advice, but just sounds like speak their language. And this can mean a lot of different things. And I'm going to go into more detail about exactly what it means specifically, thing
facile, but still works is just thinking about how how can I use numbers, short words, bright colors to make my point, particularly when speaking to upper management, who as we all know, have very, very short attention spans. This will mean 10 fewer tickets per week. This eliminates five key risks there will be 12% less waste. Or perhaps I've done the calculations and currently it takes about 30 minutes to process a check request. If we move to this new software, it will take fewer than five minutes over. Given the number of check requests we processed each week, this will mean that we free up approximately a person or whatever the calculation is.
Now here, here's a key
thing about this. This sounds fascinating, but it's actually due to a deeper reason. This
is due to deeper
reason because too much detail candy rail. And this is a little bit counterintuitive, because I think particularly as a tech person, you're often looking for as much detail as possible. When you go to be when you go to the man page. When you go and be the documentation you often want to get the full level of detail. One of the most frustrating experiences you can have is to have documentation that's incomplete or to have someone give an incomplete explanation, someone knocko end to end on it but The problem is particularly in spoken conversation, and particularly when you're speaking from a vantage point of more technical experience or more technical facility to someone who's less technical, too much detail can completely prevent them from really pulling out of your head what you're trying to express. So you may see that like, this is very simple. If we make this choice, it will mean the system is less secure. But if you give too many details at once to your boss, you have no control out of the mess of everything that you say what they'll pick out as the most salient detail. So there's a technique that I love, which I like to think of as minimum viable detail. It's essentially this is what I want. Here's the steps, how much how long, then Here's the reason why. Give you an example. We're going to start with a goal. So a bad way to say that we need to upgrade the wireless system is something that I see on a regular basis from many different people from many different lines. of life in the tech world, it's essentially going first into the deep technical detail about exactly what the situation is now and the history of it. And then it's going into why this is so important and sometimes getting a little overwrought about how important it is. And then sometimes even just adding in a little bit more detail, people often end up doing this because they're used to hearing no in response to things so they think, you know, if I heard no before, what I need to do is what I did before, but just do it harder. Let me just add more detail. And let me just emphasize the point even a little bit harder. So I've characterized this year as blah, blah, blah, controllers, version numbers, years since we upgraded This was neglected by previous staff. No one took me seriously. It'll be fire and brimstone if we don't do this, on and on and so on and so forth.
have no good results from this. No matter how you poured your heart into it, this may actually go against what you want. As I said before detail can derail. And sometimes, particularly when you add that emotional element particularly. And that's going to be the part that's most intelligible to your audience, especially if your boss is less technical than you again. And that's the part they're going to pick out. They'll read this and not get any of your good points, they're going to think, Oh, this person is really worked up about wireless for some reason. That's silly. Who cares, blah, blah, blah. Also, this doesn't give them the salient facts that they actually need, from their perspective to make a decision. So starting with the goal, this is what I want. Let's upgrade wireless. Here's the steps, how much how long, it'll cost 20 K, there'll be about three days downtime. We can do it over a weekend, though. Here's the reason why. This will help us to pass audit, which again, is something your boss cares about more than you do. The CEO will stop whining about the lack of wireless in the boardroom. Also, it's required. This is all you need. But start with a goal. Start with a lead. Start with what you actually want. And don't be afraid to do this. When I've taught people this technique at a number of different companies, I've often gotten the pushback. But if I don't justify myself, first off, why would they ever say yes? Why would they? Why wouldn't they just say no. But the truth is, especially for someone who's less technical than you, they want to know what you're trying to do first before they can spec out from their perspective, whether the money and the resources is okay. And this is an important key fact because we're going to come back to this leader from the other side. You also as an IT person, want to know what the person is trying to do first before you spec out the technical details. So you can think of it if you want as being a mirror of that for your boss, your boss wants to know what you're trying to achieve before they think where can I get the money and the resources for it.
Here is just a sad fact about the world. You can be right and not make sense and this is why detail can do Braille is so insidious. So one of the most frustrating experiences As an IT person is basically seeing the system go to hell, seeing that we're not making the right tech investments, seeing that your boss is over and over again, making asinine decisions, seeing that we're letting things get out of warranty that we're letting things not be upgraded on a regular basis that we're not putting our resources in the right way. And you may feel over and over again, you're making it clear that these are bad decisions. But what you have to understand is that you can be right and not make sense. So I've produced a humorous illustration to show this. In your mind, you're talking about the future of humans and robots working together. But you add a little bit too much detail. And what kind of ends up getting emphasized is that humans and robots may love one another. This is the only part that the other person understands. And so they imagine some weird, sexy sex robot thing that maybe will eat people who knows what's happening. This is the essence of A lot of misunderstandings. Now, I want to pause here though, because some of you in the audience are going to think, Okay, so what she's saying is I just need to get better at talking, I need to get better at talking and explaining. And maybe I'll make these techniques and I'll start my explanations to be a little bit shorter. And but all I need to do is explain more explained harder. And as long as I explain myself, then I will not be in conflict because once I explain myself, I will be right and everyone will go along with me. But here's another sad fact. person who is saying, obviously stupid things may actually not also may not be wrong. So let's say the user says something stupid out there stupid. I want to get all my emails as text messages, something stupid, or your boss says something equally asinine, but let's start with a simple user thing, which we can all agree is stupid. They might just be using words incorrectly. They might have a mistake. assumption. But the truth of the matter is that most people secretly kind of make sense. And somewhere somewhere underneath there, and if someone is saying something that is outright asinine, they probably have expressed themselves in a way that doesn't actually reflect their internal understanding, much like you can do this yourself. So just as you can derail a conversation, by including too much technical detail that the user doesn't understand or gets distracted by, so to your boss, another user, someone in another department, someone in upper management, can say things that make literally no sense just because they've gone a little bit too far into some technical detail that they don't understand, or because there are some elements that doesn't make sense to them. So this is why just like I promised earlier, one of the techniques that's incredibly important is to get clarity on the goal that you're trying to achieve. Now, one question I hear people ask sometimes that I want to warn you against is What were you trying to do? Because that initially introduces a little bit of condescension and conflict that you may not actually want. But it is important that you understand what they're actually trying to do. are other ways to say this? You can say, Can you walk me through end to end what this looks like? Or what results do you want in the end of this? What do you what outcome are you looking for?
One that I
really love that is like a ninja move is to start with a secret. Here's my idea at the beginning, even if you don't yet understand what they want, and that is, you know, I might have an idea about this. That could be some labor saving, can you walk me through this? So this is a great example of when this would come in handy is when the boss says something ridiculously asinine? Like, I need you to attach emails as PDFs to every ticket that comes in to the Help Desk system. It's clear clearly something has gone wrong in their brain to give you such an asinine request.
You need to do
Calm yourself, center yourself and just say, Hmm, that's interesting. You know, I might have a way to do that that would be a little bit easier, but I want to understand what it is end to end, can you just walk me through what the outcome you want at the end is and how, how we're going to get there because I might be able to help you out. So it's important, it's important, the more absurd and stupid what you hear come out of the other person's mouth, the more important it is to just start with the assumption like there is some sense in there, there's this little hard nugget of sense is wrapped inside this great boulder of stupidity. And I'm, I'm going to figure out exactly what it is. Now, there's a Maya Angelou quote that's showing up in the chat for those of you who have core ticketholders and are lucky enough to say it. And I agree with this. This is another case where introducing conflict to a situation that doesn't need conflict is just going to undermine what you're trying to accomplish. The Maya Angelou quote is I've learned that people will forget what you He said people will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel. And so one of the key things that I've learned from a lifetime of volunteering from a lifetime of advocating for people from a lifetime of arguing with people, is that you can get trapped in a pattern with somebody, particularly a pattern with someone like your boss who has power over you a pattern with someone who has done the wrong thing many, many times. And you need to give that person every day the space to potentially do the right thing. So Marsha and HR has been a thorn in your side forever. Start these techniques today and give Marcia a chance to change. Give, give Marsha the benefit of the doubt from here on out or give your boss the benefit of the doubt from here on out if they've been the ones have been the thorn in the side. Here's another way to just very gladly and with great compassion and great openness ask people to tell give you a little bit more information. Tell me a little bit more about that. I find this very useful protection. When people say something again, that just makes no sense. So I want to be able for to have instructors upload videos that our students are going to be able to watch. Students need to be able to find coursework that's been assigned to them. They should also be able to find example videos from previous grades, but they don't need to search. Think that makes no sense. What are you thinking? Are you crazy? But instead of asking that, I just say, oh, okay, so tell me a little bit more about how you students are going to be finding videos that they want. So for example, what if a student wants to find a video about negative exponent? How do they do that? This is a power move. Just finding a nice neutral way to ask for a little bit more information. And again, just have the assumption in your head that there's a sense nugget to find you might have to mined for it, but there's Something that makes sense in what they said, even if they express it in a way that makes no sense whatsoever.
Let's just go over some of
these tools. Here's my idea is gold. If you take nothing else from my talk, let me tell you this is one of the things that I helped my minions with, that gives them more use in their other jobs and when they move on, and when they get promoted than anything else. Here's my idea, is the way to lay out what you think, in a way that people will find helpful consistently and very, very rarely, even though it might feel aggressive. The first few times you do it, very rarely will have a negative reception. People may argue back with you. They may say, can't you do it for less money? Can you do it faster? Why don't you use Microsoft Teams, which is such a great product, whatever, they'll talk to you though here's my ideas almost never ignored, it gets some traction. Minimum Viable detail is probably the second most important thing because this is the way that people undermine themselves all the time, particularly in tech. Third, be sure you understand the goal. Be sure that the person you're talking to understands your goal, be sure that you understand what they're trying to accomplish. But more important than that, get to a place where it's a we, where it's a team where you guys are working together, and it's really our goal. We're working together to try to make the user safe and secure in a way that's under budget. It's not that I only care about security, and my boss only cares about the budget. We both care about both things and we're working together to solve them. You can also use some cheap parlor tricks the yes and the rejecting either or by questioning the shared assumptions. And the Tell me more.
Yes, my minions I wonder if any of my minions are attending this talk.
This is a lot of work. I'm not gonna lie. I think some of you may have come to this talk, hoping I would just give you the cheap tricks. And by using these cheap tricks, you can hypnotize and mesmerize your boss and they will do whatever you want all the time. Instead of that. What I've done is asked you to stop Up to meet them halfway to holistically solve problems to do even more work than you're doing now, this this seems like a bum deal. But the truth is, I'm asking you to do this because it actually works. And I'm also asking you to do this because solving problems is probably what you're best at. You're probably not very good at persuading people with emotion, you're probably significantly better at persuading people people by getting to the right solution. And that's why attacking it from this way even though it requires you to go a little bit outside of your comfort zone sometimes and go a little bit further, is what actually works much better. It seems like more work at first, but in the end, you're not wasting all this time. All these cycles on just arguing with people fruitlessly. And in the end, you might not hate your boss, which is an incredible boon to any work environment to actually like and get along with your boss and feel like you're on the same team with them. It turns a soul destroying job into one that's rewarding.
I'm ready for questions. I'm putting my website up. And you can always just email me at gmail if you want to. I'm really happy to help anyone out with any of these questions. I both do consulting gigs for firms, and I also help individuals, you can just reach out to me. I am also I've been watching the chat, but if anyone has any questions now, I'd love to take that.
So we have one question that's posted in the chat here that says, I just don't know how to say no to my boss. Hmm. Please give me some simple advice.
Yes, it's not simple to say no. Like this is one of the most important things. So understand that there are in the work world, many different kinds of know. And I'm going to give you a couple answers that I think are helpful. Sometimes the reason why you want to say no is something like them saying I want you to attach PDFs to tickets. And that's why using a technique like I want to understand the goal and seeing if you can counter offer can be really helpful. Because it can be hard to say no, because it feels like I can't say no to the ultimate goal that they want to get to. And it can be easier for you as someone who feels like they can never say no, to say, can I solve this problem better in a way that has fewer unintended consequences? Another way to learn how to say no is to talk about the shared problem that you guys have. So your boss says something like, we need to do this because we need to meet the auditing requirements. So what you can say in in responses that yes, and like, Yes, I want to help meet the auditing requirements. This is what I need your help with in order to do it. The problem is that we have 100 tickets that we have to get through this week. We have 15 story points, whatever it is, I need your help to prioritize the things around it. So just like I put in the talk, combine that yes and with your art, your problems are my problems. Our problems are your problems. That can be easier than a no. Eventually, once you get used to asserting yourself in these ways, it will be easier when you have a good relationship with your boss and your boss understands that you give good feedback and can work with them cooperatively to actually literally say no. I think it is very hard if you're asking that question to start with another.
So I have another question. I take great pride in performing for my boss and co workers getting things done. But my boss misses deadlines doesn't read what I send and is not as present as they need to be. This is stressful because it's like my boss is in the way of me doing my job, rather than facilitating it. How?
Yeah, so I think I think we've all had situations where our boss literally feels less competent than us. And I think it can be important in those situations. To ask yourself, do you really want this job? Like how bad is that that competence in balance because frankly, there
are times when the
company needs the signal that this person is not a good manager. So that's that's one extreme. Now in the middle is your boss is mostly good, but they have one habit that's really terrible. I would suggest to you that you consider sitting down with them and saying, I want to give you some feedback about something that's not working for me. Start with that sentence and see what they say in response. And you can you can preface this with I wouldn't preface it with like comparing yourself to them, but you can preface this with that you have basically you have some behaviors that are causing some issues for me. So when when you and then you can look up nonviolent communication if you want to get a couple more examples, sentences, but you can say something like, when you miss your deadlines, I feel that I feel that my the good work that I've done goes to waste or when you miss your deadlines, I often end up having to scramble. So I would like to Would and then say what you want, I would like us to get to a place where you're, you're meeting these deadlines on time and I want to work with you to make it happen. The things you should avoid are saying like direct comparisons, like I'm always on time and you're not, is that is not a good way to get a good conversation going with them. And I would also just encourage you to keep it really simple. So try try to think about like, what, what are the key things that bother you the most? And what do you really want? Just as if you were specking out? Like, should we upgrade the wireless? Or should we switch to this other piece of software? And then stick to those points be very simple pause in the conversation for them to talk back and really just focus on what's the outcome that you want? And can we treat as a shared problem to get there?
Shoot I Chanel's getting a
lot. No, it is one of the most powerful words as one of the commenters said. And I really really by upping your relationships, you can get to the point where you can draw Say No. So a lot of the techniques I'm giving you are when the relationship is in shambles, and you guys are not working well together, how can you step towards that?
So sorry, I lost my my chat for a moment behind the zoom like Oh, no. So how do you deal with we've never done things like that before, in response to suggested procedure changes when facing a completely new situation. They gave a hypothetical example. There's a global pandemic. Oh, hypothetical. And we haven't experienced that, yet. No, not at all. And the essential worker, senior field service tech is suggesting modifying the triage process before dispatching to reduce unnecessary and now dangerous in person visits for simple or non existent problems. Yes,
so there's a couple techniques to that. So one thing that you should know about yourself as an IT person is sometimes we've never done This before sounds more negative to you than it really is. In your theoretical example, it's clearly meant to be an objection. But sometimes people are just like a little scared like we've never done this before. So what you can do is respond to that respond to their jitteriness, or fear with a little excitement, like, yeah, we never had done this before. So here's my idea about how we can make it great. Or here's my idea about the other the other ways that will benefit from this. Yes, and yes, and we've never done this before, and we are in an unprecedented situation. So here's my idea about why this will work better. Let's be specific about your theoretical example. The senior field service tech is suggesting modifying the triage process and your bosses saying you have never touched the sacred triage process before they are reacting I think with fear and particularly, particularly your internet specific about whether the the they suggested a specific modification or not But if they haven't suggested a specific modification, I would start with a specific modification with the here's an idea. And if they still are hands off, what you can do is say, here's my idea for how we can test it, like respond to what is if you're coming from, like, how can you make the fear more specific? How can you articulate it? And then how can you say, here's my idea for Let's run a couple scenarios for these weird edge cases that we get sometimes in triage. Or tell me more about how you think this could go wrong. And then let's think through them together, something like that. Really, as you can hear, I'm just putting my all my slides in a different order. Because really like these techniques, when you just combine them differently can deal with a lot of situations. I do see the next question is about being on products that seem or projects that seem really under committed. And it's hilarious because I'm working with some people right now who have chronically under committed on project so I'm just going to read the question aloud, like one developer for a month. When we really need for, for four months, I think there's probably an issue in communicating the relationship between long term goals, short term goals and effort or timelines. Do you have any advice on how to navigate a situation like this? So this, this is a situation where I would say the root cause most of the time is that people literally just don't understand what they're asking for. So I have seen this in a lot of situations where people think, oh, we just need to go into the database. And then once we're in the database, it will do everything that we were doing in our Excel process. And our you know, don't think about all of the other business processes that are associated with the old method of doing it that need to be specked out. Sometimes it's literally that people just don't know how long things will take. So the first step here, if this has been happening on a repetitive basis, is to get everyone on the same page that this is a real problem and it's really happening. So if you're in a company with work that has had a pattern of under committing on projects. Start with reminding people that this has happened in the past and make sure that everyone in the room all the decision makers acknowledge. Yeah, you know, we keep saying we're going to finish something in one month, and it's actually taking 16. This has happened repeatedly. That gives everyone a chance to pause and say, What do you think could be causing this? And that's when you can step in with, here's my idea about what's causing this. I think we're under specking. The actual business requirements and here's the pattern that I see and understanding the business requirements, or I think that we're specking properly, but we're not fully specking out all the work that's required per requirement, whatever it happens to be, but start with getting people on the same page that this is happening repeatedly. And then and then see where you can go from there. What is a little bit harder is if you're brought into a brand new company, and as soon as you get to the brand new company, you can see Whoa, people are waiting Respect. But then what you want to do is make a friend who's been at the company a little bit longer, because they're going to have that historical knowledge of how this has happened time and time again at this company because they keep doing it. It's a rare rare occurrence when just a new project is suddenly under SPECT, but everything else is inspected properly.
got another question during feedback sessions, how do you find the balance between addressing a concern and being or sounding needy, or like you need your handheld?
I'm a little bit curious whether this person means when you're giving feedback to your boss or when your boss is giving feedback to you. I'm getting a little feedback on the mic. Ironically, that's hilarious. Hopefully no one else is hearing that. So if if when you're giving feedback to your boss, your your question is how do I how do I make myself sound respected about giving the feedback as opposed to being needy. So if you're thinking of the case, that we are Earlier when you're talking about
I want to tell my boss that they're missing deadlines all the time and how it's affecting me.
So what they
there were specific suggestions and it was basically a complete conversation shut down with their response followed by if anyone is afraid to go on a service call, they can use this sixth day. Oh, that was the that was explanation for the
triage. Yeah. nexor snack, sir is the one when giving when giving to boss. So when you're giving your feedback to Boston, you're raising a legitimate concern. I think some of you might hesitate to use that formula gay before for nonviolent communication when you do this, I feel because that might sound like you're making yourself vulnerable or weak, which makes sense. So the more neutral way to say this is when you do this, the outcome is this. So let's let's take People because the pandemic is going on don't want to go out on service calls directly to sites because they're worried about being exposed. So think about, think about what the outcomes are in a more neutral way for the boss that might be meeting the boss more where they're at. When you ask it service professionals to go out on these these on these direct service calls, and you're not asking others, you introduce some equity issues that I think are problematic. When you do this, you risk exposing staff and multiple offices to this when you do this, it's falling disproportionately on the people who are hourly, as opposed to the people who are not. So instead of the eye feeling which you can just do when you do this, this is the outcome and that can be a way to feel more like you are just in neutral ground. Another way again, is to start with a here's my idea, like Hey, boss, I noticed that right now. It's not working for everyone that we have IT professionals going out on service calls So I had an idea about this actually, I had an idea that if we
using FaceTime, and we can actually experiment with it here in the office to work out all the kinks. But if we started using FaceTime, since everyone is issued a company iPhone, we can, we can meet over 90% of the tickets that have come in, something like that. So I know this may sound like it's not it's not helpful, or it's a little bit too generic. But the truth is, if you keep it just when this happens, then this happens. Here's my idea for fixing it. You give them a platform to engage on and you give them less incentive to shut it down without listening to you. And I do just want to return to what we said at the very, very beginning of the talk, which is if your boss is a monster, and nothing seems to work with them for any reason ever, if they're literally a monster, and they're like, I don't care how anyone suffers, this is meaningless to me. human life is garbage, and the Blah, blah. Think about getting a new job. So we are almost
out of time we've got about one minute, I'm gonna pop one more question to you. When having discussions with management, is it better to accompany your argument with blah, blah, blah will benefit me doing my job or blah, blah, blah will benefit the company. I think
it's understand what your boss's goals are, and then catch it in terms of your boss's goals. So if your boss needs to show that you have 95%, tickets closed within two hours, like understand what their metrics are, that they're accountable for it and do it within those and make it specific to those and not just generic will benefit the company. All right,
in the last 30 seconds, do you have any one single most important thing that you think that hope attendees should learn today?
think it really is play to your strengths when you're in interpersonal conflict. So if you are a person who's a problem To set up steps to conflict in such a way that is more of a mutual problem solving session than not, please make free use of my techniques. please reach out to me honestly, you have my email address, reach out to me if it is helpful and I would be very happy to talk to anyone through any specific situation.
Thank you so much for that fantastic talk. Nita O'Neill. You can reach her at NIDA O'Neill comm or Nita O'Neill at gmail.com.
guess what we're gonna do this summer.
No, not just that. We're also going to attend hackers on planet Earth.
is a very
special online conference.
Sure, you can
go, the whole family can attend. We're all going to watch together.
There's gonna be speakers. We're gonna learn all kinds of things.
On the internet, we'll get all the email@example.com
Ronnie rock from Hawaii. I just wanted to And a great aloha to everyone out there. Well wishes of healthiness and happiness. I'm a cybersecurity Project Manager for a government contractor company here in Hawaii. I'm also a Polynesian and fire dancer. So I live a well balanced life in technical and personable work. Hope
you're enjoying hope. 2020 is a little sample of my
fire arts. Enjoy