Surviving Bureaucracy

America seems to thrive lately on bureaucracy. Everywhere we go it haunts us. From the local government to the IRS, it is a major part of our lives. Waiting lines tend to be long, tempers short, and bad attitudes abound. This article is here to give you tips to get through the major trouble spots and actually use the system to get what you wanted, or at least come out the other side not so beaten down.

I recently interviewed an employee of the City of Lewiston Maine, (name withheld by request). I asked in general terms what the bigger trouble spots that she typically sees. How can some one avoid these problems and get her to go that extra step.

She started with a big sigh and explained to me there were two types of people who came to her window. Those who were friendly and those who were not.

“I absolutely hate it when someone barges in here and tells me how to do MY job. Look I have been here for 12 years and I KNOW my job.”

She further explained that the friendly people, who genuinely acted pleasant, got more attention than the guy who throws papers at her. I am not really surprised by this response, what I am surprised at is some one would expect to be waited on hand and foot after throwing papers at a clerk or other customer service agent.

The other thing that stood out in our conversation was that when she was going the extra step and giving good advice to some one, the majority of the people would ignore the advice outright or look at her as though she had 3 heads!

So looking back at what was learned from a brief interview and common sense, we have come up with some basic, realistic steps to take when entering a bureaucracy.

1. Loose the Attitude at the Door. It will do you NO good inside.

2. Be friendly and sincere.

3. Smile and be patient. You are going to leave soon. SHE has to stay here all day!

4. They know their job, you don’t. Ask good, reasonable questions and do so in a nice way. Chances are if you are nice to them, they will be nice to you AND they know the answers YOU need.

5. Don’t ever threaten anyone with anything. You don’t pay their salary and if you say you do, they will not give what you want!

6. If they give you a suggestion, it is probably a good idea to listen.

7. Don’t throw a hissy fit like a 3 year old and throw the documents the clerk! They have NO control over the policies set in place. They have to follow the rules like everyone else, so deal with it.

8. Be polite. Say thank you. Would you be in a charitable mood if you just had 30 people give you a bad attitude?

While it seems simple presented here, these simple points really do work.

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