My father gave me some wise advice regarding how to treat my husband.
“Treat your husband like a king and he’ll treat you like a queen.”
He had a good point. When you go out of your way to treat someone nicely, there’s a very good chance they’ll return the kindness.
You can apply this to your professional career and those sticky situations when a person is causing problems. It may be a co-worker or a client, but if you can make them feel like a king or queen, you just might turn things around without a heavy-handed approach.
What sets a king or queen apart?
If kings and queens want history to remember them well, they build their reputation for being generous, benevolent, and magnanimous. They are considered noble when displaying such traits.
There is a desire within everyone to be seen as noble, to be recognized and admired for doing the right thing. When you can appeal to that desire, you’ll often find that the person will rise to the challenge and indeed, do the right thing.
Even if a person doesn’t have much power or authority, they are especially sensitive to this type of appeal. It is precisely because they don’t have a large amount of power or authority that they tend to withhold minor decisions that could affect your project.
If you don’t want such games to be played, it will help to know how to avoid these skirmishes.
Appeal to someone’s inner King or Queen
Once I had to get a requisition approval for a check. The one woman that was the key to whether that requisition moved quickly through the chain of command or sat on her desk could be described as a “prickly pear” at best. She was known to be moody and if you happened to tick her off, she’d make you pay for it by being uncooperative.
I approached her by saying this: “Barb, I know you get a ton of work coming across your desk constantly. To be honest, I don’t know how you do it. You keep your executive on track while also keeping at least nine other tasks going at the same time. I know these requests that come across your desk just add one more task to your already overloaded plate. I simply wanted you to know that I appreciate you taking a look at it whenever you can.”
I didn’t spend too much time saying this. If you use this approach, use it gently and don’t overdo it, otherwise it can come across as false flattery.
The result? Barb pushed through my requisition quickly and I had the check within a few days.
People like to be seen in a favorable light
We usually have high opinions of ourselves. We like to think of ourselves as fair, patient, kind, loving, wise, loyal, etc. When someone else recognizes those traits that we see in ourselves, we typically will rise to the occasion and show ourselves to be fair, patient and kind.
The world rarely recognizes such fine qualities. Because of this, the act of honoring someone’s positive traits is powerful. It is rare that anyone hears they’ve done a good job.
Most bosses unfortunately think that if an employee is doing a great job, then “they’re just doing what they’re being paid to do.” There is little recognition.
It is also why employee recognition programs are usually wildly successful when done right. Employees like to know that their hard work and going the extra mile has been recognized and appreciated.
The bottom line is that when you make people feel good about themselves, they’ll scale the highest mountain and swim the deepest sea for you.
Such exchanges build loyalty and trust in a relationship. And in the end, you’ll find yourself being treated like a king or queen.