Service of Two + Minds…

July 14th, 2011

Categories: Collaboration, Handy Tips, Lessons Learned, Outside Counsel, Retail, Technology

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It can take a second for a person seeing something for the first time and with fresh eyes to notice/suggest a critical fix to a designer, writer, merchandiser, chef or inventor who has been working on a project for hours if not years.

This happened just the other day at Hedström & Judd. Every time I go to Warren Street in Hudson, NY I visit this Swedish-inspired boutique with its memorable decorative pillows, china, glassware, furniture, stationery, soap, plants, cachepots, birdhouses, books-carefully chosen and placed. On my latest visit I saw a handsome black tray with a display of cotton socks in great colors and patterns. Also on the tray with the socks was a Hedström & Judd card marked $275.

decorative-socksKnowing it referred to the tray I nevertheless mumbled to my husband, “Socks at that price? And you thought inflation was bad?” I decided to mention my reaction to the proprietor as in truth, when the great socks caught my eye, I wondered how much they cost and $275 was all I saw. He’s as nice to customers if they buy one note card, an entire tray of socks, 24 bowls with polka dots-or nothing. He thanked me profusely and rushed over and grabbed the tag to modify it.

two-on-computerIn our shared office space, an assistant had tried to fix the template of her boss’s email for two days when she asked others for help. The boss was using an ancient program so it didn’t have the options we had on ours. With tidbits of experience from a few, she finally  replaced the missing element, a signature, that had disappeared mysteriously one day. The irony: One inadvertent tap of a key and a template that takes a minute [or in this case, two days] to set up takes a second to delete.

A craftsperson was defensive and snippy when I suggested she mark her wooden toys “Made in Pennsylvania,” to distinguish them from those made in countries with lax regulations about child-safe paints and finishes.

What personality most welcomes suggested fixes? Can a person learn how not to resent help? Do you wait for ages to ask for help?

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7 Responses to “Service of Two + Minds…”

  1. Lisa McGee aka Nenaghgal Said:

    I’m pretty good about asking for help especially when I’m heading into unknown territory- calling someone for help on a computer issue I’m happy to do. I also love to bounce ideas off people. I also love giving advice and ideas but funnily enough find that only members of my own family tend not to be too keen on receiving it- everyone else does…I think we should all be open minded about getting and receiving help and advice. WE can’t know everything!

  2. ugb Said:

    I think the answer to your question is more complicated than you might first think.

    I can, literally at the same time, both welcome one person’s constructive comment and be offended by another’s. I can’t, for the life of me, possibly, rationally say why! Maybe it is as silly as one helpful comment came from someone who is fat and I prefer thin people, or because the other came right after my boyfriend complemented me. Maybe, it was because I had already thought of the idea and stupidly discarded it, and being reminded of the idea reminded me of my stupidity. It could be so many things!

    One thing is for sure though, we tend to value the ideas we have to pay for more than those that come for free. That said, I do ask for help when I think I need it.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lisa,

    I agree. However, when my computer decides to do something crazy, I try the usual remedies and cross all fingers and admit that sometimes I wait too long to call the computer fixit man. It has nothing to do with pride. It’s that sometimes he can’t come right away and I keep hoping I’ll solve whatever the crossed wire is myself. Sometimes I luck out.

    I admit that it becomes easier and easier for me to ask for help. I welcome editing because I see how much better copy can be almost every time. When I’ve hired an interior decorator for a project, I’ve saved time and money and have been happy with the results–every time but once.

    In health matters, I always hope and pray that whatever it is goes away so I don’t have to go for help to a doctor!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    UGB,

    I don’t think that because someone is fat or thin will make you dislike or like their advice or suggestion, I think it is the approach and tone a person uses in making it that turns a person on or off.

    I was at a magazine that hired the meanest editor I have ever met before or since. Her tone, words and approach were toxic. The same ideas coming from someone in the spirit of “this might be clearer this way,” or “the headline is funny but only a fraction of the audience will get it, don’t you think?” will get through to me every time.

  5. Martha Takayama Said:

    I don’t think it is a sign of weakness, but rather of intelligence, to seek or be receptive of help offered, certainly in areas in which one does not have extensive experience or expertise. Not being technologically skilled, I set limits on the amount of effort I expend on resolving a problem before looking for appropriate assistance. I also welcome well-intentioned offers.

    I recently purchased “Get-It-Done-Guy’s Nine Steps to Work Less and Do More”, by Stever Robbins, at the MIT bookstore, in Cambridge, MA. I was feeling overwhelmed by various tasks, and finding the book on sale with other advisory literature in the bookstore of a center of intellectual achievement certainly stimulated my purchase! The experience of acquiring such a book unambiguously constituted seeking outside help. I am amazed with the insight it is providing and am finding it useful on many levels.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    I’m not familiar with your new Robbins book. Thanks for the tip!

    I agree that seeking and accepting help doesn’t reflect weakness, though I know plenty of people who feel it is. I admit that in my first job at a magazine and then at a PR firm, my heart would sink if a boss excessively tweaked something I’d written because I feared that I’d done a horrible job. I look at things differently now: Whatever makes something better for a client or a project is what I want, and I don’t care if an elevator man comes up with the idea or headline.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    It’s impossible to say how someone could “learn not to resent help.” Some never will, others may do so having seen that useful hints can improve their existence in one way or another, and others are nearly always open to suggestions.

    Some recommendations are made just to make oneself heard. Those on the receiving end can’t be blamed for turning a (hopefully) polite deaf ear.

    The stronger the personality, the more the recipient is likely to listen, since he does not feel threatened and welcomes the chance of growing as a result of what he has heard.

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