By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Media Services
Q. I notice there are two schools of thought about getting ahead at work: the altruistic (if you help others, you'll get good things) and the aggressive (go ahead and run people over if it gets you what you want). Neither of these approaches seem right to me. Is there any other alternative?
A. Yes, the third alternative is to recognize that the workplace is big enough for both you and the other person to win.
From the first minute you speak to a customer, coworker or boss, learn to listen to their agenda (what they want). Sometimes you'll hear an emotional agenda - for example, they want to be respected. Sometimes you'll hear a logistical agenda, such as that they want to learn a software program.
Most of us are so busy thinking about what we want or need that the needs of anyone else are relatively invisible. Any good negotiator will tell you that if you want to have influence with other people, you must appeal to their agenda.
After listening to discover what the other party wants emotionally or logistically, you must come up with a plan on how you can help make that agenda happen. When you speak to the other person, you must start by making clear that you can see what they probably want and you can be their ally.
Ironically, the easiest part of a workplace negotiation is to tell the other party what you want. But if you skip the first two parts, where you really listen to the needs of another person and then offer a plan to help them, any need you have will fall on deaf ears.
We may have been given two ears and one mouth because having influence, power and authority in the workplace is more about deep listening than overwhelming your coworkers with a verbal onslaught.
To make matters worse, if your coworker listens to your needs first, he will probably decide you have no interest in his agenda. He'll then make sure you don't get what you want either.
The simple truth about workplace negotiation is that people at work are happy to see you get what you want ... but only if they are guaranteed you are also looking out for them.
You will notice in a long career that people who believe they can win through intimidation are in the end brought down by the people they stepped upon on the way up. Unfortunately, the people who think they'll win by having no needs and taking care of everyone else just get burned out, used and bitter.
In my column and my work, I am simply a fan of what works. I'll throw away philosophy or theory any day in favor of results. I prefer my clients and readers to do the same with my advice. Try running over people, and see how that works. Try sacrificing yourself consistently to help others. Now try hearing what others want, giving it to them, and then asking for what you want.
You'll discover that when you leave people better than you found them, you'll end up with a network of cheerleaders that will leave no stone unturned to see you succeed!
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). Contact her at www.interpersonaledge.com
or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027.
This was printed in the June 16, 2013 - June 29, 2013 Edition