The Smile And Nod Technique, A How-To Guide To Interoffice Relationships

Strange lights, in Quebec City, Canada. Taken on the 23rd of June 2006 with a Sony Cybershot DSC-P93 5.1 MP. Part of the Quebec City Lights Series.

Shit happens.

And most of the time, shit happens at work.

You need to be prepared.

Things can always get worse.

Remember Murphy’s Law:

Murphy’s law is a popular adage in Western culture that most likely originated at Edwards Air Force Base in 1948. The Law broadly states that things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance. “If there’s more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way.” It is most often cited as “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” (or, alternately, “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time,” or, “Anything that can go wrong, will”).

I have worked in the Canadian government, the private sector as a coder, as my own boss in graphic design, as an employee and manager in the financial sector and my own boss in finance.

Same shit, different pile.

Remember that.

The perfect job is just an illusion, a mirage, until you can create your own. You will always find faults in any job. There are always problems and perks.

In interoffice relationships, it is important to apply the “Smile-And-Nod Technique”. I have used this so many times that it has become part of my way of dealing with things. Especially when you manage other people. You need to be able to take the shit, and then go on with your life.

The manager might be a prick, but there is a reason why he is like that.

Maybe he is getting heat from upstairs as well, and he just wants to pass the shit around a bit.

Maybe he had a bad day and wants to take it out on you.

There is a plethora of reasons. Or maybe he just is a prick. There is nothing you can do. You are stuck with the situation and need to deal with it. Try finding ways of getting out of it if possible, but in most cases, you are stuck.

Good managers are liked by their people. Bad ones are hated.

When you work for someone, you accept to be part of this whole system.

Smile and nodding can be very efficient. “Smile-And-Nod And Do Whatever You Want”, sometimes that works. Other times it might get you fired. Just make sure your ass is covered.

I like to cover all my bases when dealing with bosses and managers. The only time I will really voice my opinion on something that concerns me, is when I feel it is wrong.

Do I have to do a few extra duties?

Sure, no biggie.

Do I have to use this book instead of that one?

No problemo.

Do I have to change my marking scheme to fit the latest policy of the school?

Anyday.

But am I working an extra hour a day and not getting paid for that?

That won’t work for me.

The thing is, it doesn’t matter if you are right, because in some cultures, the manager is always right. It doesn’t get you anywhere using confrontation, except judiciously used in certain situations.

One important tip, be nice.

Be always nice, that is a sure way of making sure that you do not rub anyone the wrong way.

Make sure you know everybody’s name and what they are up to. Exchange pleasantries.

Use ways of isolating yourself when you need to get your work done. People are a lot less likely to disturb you if you wear headphones and listen to music. Even if you hate music, you can use this, but be careful, you might hear things about you behind your back, from people thinking that you can not hear them.

Make sure that you talk to your boss every day.

Do what he says, even if you think it is completely wrong.

In some companies, they want you to voice opinions. In other, they just want you to conform. Use your own judgement in these situations.

When the shit hits the fan, do not loose your temper. That is a sure way of getting fired.

Use the Smile-And-Nod Technique and then, take a break to vent your frustrations. If you voiced your opinions clearly and felt that it might have looked like you lost your temper, make sure you apologize. It’s hard to find fault with someone who admits their own mistakes. Or say something like this:

Well, you heard my opinion on how we should do this, but if you feel it should be done this way, well it’s no problem. But please remember that I voiced my thoughts on this to you. Thanks.

Admit that you can not change everything and live with it.

Never take too much responsibilty above your own present position. In some companies, the Go-Getters will get promoted above everyone else. In others, it is the people who do their job. It varies.

Try and make use of your time as efficiently as possible, so you look good. Make sure that you do not make everyone else look stupid. I worked in the government once, and I worked too fast on my projects and had to slow them down, because I was just too quick.

Be careful ofyour demeanor and body language. Some people are adept at reading other people’s faces. It is harder to hide things if you are very expressive with your feelings. Try coming up with a mantra that you can repeat in her head repetitively to calm yourself.

Be also careful of brownnosing; some people just hate that. And the bosses don’t always like it either.

1 Response to “The Smile And Nod Technique, A How-To Guide To Interoffice Relationships”



  1. 1 The Sixhundredth Post at memoirs on a rainy day Trackback on March 5, 2007 at 18:56

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ranjitwithkinginbehand.jpgI'm Range, your host. On the menu, photos, art, stories, entertainment and reviews. Links, maths, education and social issues. I'm in Quebec (Canada) or Taiwan (R.O.C.). Follow me on Twitter.

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