[volunteers] good advice from a sponsor

Paul Reiber reiber at gmail.com
Wed Dec 19 12:54:06 PST 2007

Greetings, SVLUG volunteers!
> I recently received a newsletter from Robert Half Technology. I'll be
> happy to forward a copy of the newsletter to anyone who's interested. It's a
> good read, especially the section I've included below. I'll be taking their
> recommendations to heart, and hope others within SVLUG will do similarly.
> Happy Holidays!
> -Paul Reiber, President, SVLUG

*Workplace Diplomacy: Why It's Critical to Your Career Success

*The greater the role technology plays in the success of companies, the more
visible IT professionals become. No longer hidden behind computer screens or
in server rooms, today's IT workers are key contributors to the
decision-making process and, as a result, must be able to work effectively
with individuals throughout an organization. Katherine Spencer Lee,
executive director of Robert Half Technology, offers these strategies, which
appeared in a recent Certification Magazine article, that can help you stand
out as an office diplomat.

*Adopt an Open Mind.* Whether you're helping a coworker with a computer
problem or presenting a new idea to an executive, enter every discussion
willing to listen intently to what the other person is saying. That means
not only paying close attention throughout the conversation but also
checking any assumptions at the door. For instance, assuming people lack IT
expertise because their position is outside your department might cause you
to undervalue their opinions. People might also pick up your negative
mindset, which can further damage the interaction.

*Communicate Clearly. *As the adage goes, "It's not what you say but how you
say it." It's always best to err on the side of formality when dealing with
others in the workplace. To that end, double-check all e-mails before
sending them to make sure nothing could be misinterpreted. Without the aid
of verbal inflections or body language, the undercurrents that accompany
these communications can be particularly hard to decipher.

*When presenting negative information, try to highlight a positive. *Although
you don't want to make excuses or appear to minimize others' concerns,
sometimes there might be benefits to the situation that aren't apparent at
first glance. For instance, if a client's project is going to be delayed,
you might point out that the development will allow the firm to take
advantage of product discounts being introduced at a later date.

*Demonstrating patience is another hallmark of effective communication. *For
instance, when you interact with an employee who can't figure out how to use
a new application, consider other ways of explaining the information. What
might be confusing through discussion might be clearer in written form or as
an illustration. Sometimes, being patient is easier said than done, but you
should try your best.

*Don't Take Criticism Personally. *Criticism is frequently part of IT work.
The most successful technology professionals are able to step back, put
their emotions aside and truly listen to feedback. They also know how to
keep their cool when criticism is unwarranted and determine when it's
appropriate to get a supervisor's take on a troublesome dispute.

*Understand Key Players. *One of the easiest ways to become a workplace
diplomat is to get to know your colleagues better. The more you understand
what motivates others, the better you will be able to work with them. Make
the effort to talk to people outside your immediate group during company
events. Also, take the time to ask colleagues about their work and personal
interests. Just be careful not to pry if someone seems hesitant to open up.

*Respect Office Protocol. *In addition, be sensitive to the way things are
traditionally done in your department. For instance, although you might have
the flexibility to work from home periodically without seeking management
approval, it might be an unwritten rule to check with a supervisor first to
make sure the timing is right. If you're unsure about expected procedures,
always play it safe and ask a coworker before proceeding.

*Share the Credit. *Finally, keep in mind that few IT projects are
successful because of the efforts of a single person – there usually are
supporting players who contributed in some way. So, when you are praised for
your work, be sure to publicly thank others who were involved. If you're a
team leader, acknowledge the specific contributions made by everyone in the

Being diplomatic in your everyday activities can go a long way to enhance
working relationships. When others feel you respect them, they're more
likely to respect you in return.
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