We recently had to upgrade our parking garage security system at our condo , and somehow I got stuck with the job of researching what we actually needed, getting quotes, etc. and then – upon acceptance of the bid – organizing and overseeing the installation. Lucky me! Anyway, the dude sent to do the research was the same guy who put in the original system a year ago, so we already had an established rapport and therefore were able to come up with a great solution: Two new cameras (in addition to the six we already have) that would ensure the “hidden” spots of the parking garage are fully in view, and therefore make it easy to identify scumbags who might try to break into our cars without being identified. So far, so good.
Flash Forward Two Months Later: Having found ourselves in a “cash crunch”, we put off the job for about 60 days; then when it was time to resume and organize installation, they sent out a guy… but not THE guy. It seems there were some work conflicts with the first guy, and he no longer worked for the company. The new guy was very nice, but didn’t have the notes from the first guy, so we were basically starting from scratch. Being new he also didn’t know the building, or understand our original concerns; therefore really didn’t completely understand my instructions to ensure one particular spot in the parking garage got video coverage. I tried my best to re-explain what we needed before he went about his work, and then – because of a scheduling conflict – I wasn’t available when he finished. This meant he had to come back today (Being Monday) for me to “sign off ” on the job he did on Friday, which I was okay with.
But here’s the thing: Upon inspection of the job over the weekend, I noticed that he put one of the cameras in the wrong spot, thereby totally missing achieving the result we wanted in the first place! So when he came back this morning for the “sign off” I felt I had to ask him to move the camera again, which as you can imagine, is not a small task at all. The idea of asking this definitely made me feel uncomfortable, but knew that if I used a discussed it in the right way, I might be able to make it work without causing friction. Here’s what I did:
First I was very conscious not to be a dick head about the situation, but instead tried to be empathetic in my approach. I asked him if he remembered the exact spot in the parking garage we were concerned about; he did. So far, so good. Then I showed him how the one camera he place totally neglected that spot, and asked him if he felt that the current location of the camera would be effective in addressing our concerns. He hummed for a moment, and then noted that, while the current placement of the camera gave a wider shot of the garage as a whole, it did neglect the “sweet spot” we were trying to get a handle on; so no, it didn’t address our concerns. Bingo.
I paused for a second and said “Look, I’m not trying to be a problem here, but this is why we ordered this camera in the first place – to cover this spot” and waited for his reply. He sighed a bit, and said “You’re right. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention on Friday, but here’s what I can do; I’ll come back after work tonight and move it to where you wanted it, so that way we don’t involve our office… how does that sound?” Double Bingo! We agreed, and by 6:30 p.m. he’d come and gone, and we had exactly what we were looking for. We were happy customers! Before he left I thanked him very much, helped him tidy up the job site, and gave him a gift card for Burger King so he could get some dinner on the way home. This was just a small gesture, but one he was both surprised of and very grateful for. In short, I tried to be as nice as possible to make the situation work.
I tell this story for one reason: If asked nicely, people will do just about anything for others. Unfortunately, the part of that very simple equation that usually gets lost is the “nicely” part. In this busy, lightning paced world of “more, more, more”, and “bigger, better, faster, cheaper” sometimes we forget to be slow down and be kind, courteous and understanding to the people we are dealing with. Clearly my guy thought he originally installed the cameras properly, when in fact he didn’t; but rather than berating him for doing a poor job or being angry and unreasonable, the approach of being understanding and empathic of his situation caused him to want to solve the problem. In the end, it was a win-win: We got what we wanted, and he left the site feeling he did a good job, which he did. All this love and success, simply because we choose to speak to one another politely, and respectfully.
I challenge you (and myself) to approach everyone you deal with today in this manner, and see how it makes them – and you – feel. Stop and make eye contact with the Barista at Starbucks before blurting out your order. Say “Thank-You” – and mean it – to the lady at McDonalds when she hands you your Big Mac. Hold the door open for that stranger, even if it’s a man. Politely explain your situation to the camera install guy, and then ask for his help to correct it it – and while you’re at it, offer to help him clean up so he can get home in time to have dinner with his kids.
The bottom line is this: If you be nice to people, and treat them with respect, everyone is happy; that’s because when you give respect first, you generally will receive it in return. And isn’t that a lot better than having your cameras mounted in the wrong place… if you know what I mean?
*Just in case you want to know what “Happy” looks like, check out Pharrell’s video here:
Readers – Challenge yourself to take a few random moments today to be extra nice to strangers today – let us know how it made them – and you – feel in the comments below.