4. Communicate well and listen to others. A great tech director must be able to write, speak, listen, and present. They must also hear and embrace input from others. Wolpert-Gawron, Heather. Eight Skills to Look for in a Director of Technology, Edutopia, January 25, 2016
It’s always, always, always better to be a nice person than an ass.
You will make mistakes at home and on the job. So keep this in mind: People will forgive your mistakes if you are generally a nice person; they never forget them if you behave like an ass. from Machines Are the Easy Part; People Are the Hard Part. Illustration by Brady Johnson
I am not the most popular person in my school district this week. It's the beginning of the second semester and we have gone live with a new student information system. (Hence no blog posts either.) Despite a good deal of planning and preparation, there are permissions adjustments to be made, schedules out of whack, data exchanges with other systems to configure, and lots and lots of questions to be answered. Plus everyone is now experiencing the joy of learning how to do some old familiar tasks in new unfamiliar ways. (See "Where's the light switch?")
And it is my department - and ultimately me - who is viewed as responsible for the transition and changes.
While I've gotten a couple snarky e-mails questioning my competence (I have a "sarcasm" filter on my email and rarely check it), these stressed and busy professionals throughout the district have been supportive, patient, and calm. My staff, even under pressure, have been great.
These times of transition are hard for me since I like to think I am likeable* and criticism, direct or implied, makes me wonder if I am delusional rather than likeable. This is not a trival question since likeability, I've concluded, benefits both the liker and the likee.
In 2005 I wrote a column for librarians called "A Secret Weapon - Niceness", (LMC May 2005) In it I suggested that "The power of being a nice person is rarely discussed in the literature, but it probably has a bigger impact on our effectiveness and job tenure than any technical or professional skill we might hone." and suggested 8 traits of a "nice" person that would not just make that person more popular, but actually more effective. I stand by the column now 11 years later.
A recent column tackled a similar topic. In How to Be Exceptionally Likeable: 11 Things the Most Charming People Always Do. And you can too (Inc.com December 22, 2015), Jeff Hayden reminds his readers of some great attributes to cultivate if they want to be "genuinely likeable" including admitting their failings and putting their stuff away. Read it!
My guess is that most Blue Skunk readers are in some way, shape, or form a change agent. Likeability makes changes less painful for both the perp and the victim. Cultivate your charm.
What do you find that makes those with who you work likeable?
* My favorite line of Robert Burns is "O wad some Power the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us!" Can we ever accurately see ourselves as others see us when it comes to being likeable?