How I changed the Computer Service Manager at ISD (2/2010)
In 1974 I got a job with a company that sold time on Supercomputers. They were in Oakland but moved to Santa Clara. Information Systems Design rented their computers from a company that had in the rental agreement that all service be performed by computer manufacturer. We could not shop for a competitive firm to do the service. If we didn’t like the service, we were stuck.
As Operation Manager it was my job to deal with the service on our computers. I was warned when I took the job, that I would have trouble with the difficult service manager. I soon understood why. I despised the service manager. I thought he was a lying weasel. He would quote “company policy” to deny our requests for upgrades.
I distinctly remember sitting in a meeting one day when I had difficulty concentrating on the subject at hand because I was so pissed with this guy. I realized that I had no choice but to find a way to deal with him. He was the Service Manager. Our contract required we deal with his company. So I decided to get creative. I decided to find a way to loath him less. I tried to find a way make him less odious. I told my self that his mother loved him. But the picture I got was of an ugly granny type whose love did not raise my sympathy. When that didn’t work I mentally regressed him to being a little boy and crying to his mother that he had scraped his knee. She kissed him and held him. It was a sweet scene but I still disliked him, maybe was even happy that he’d hurt himself.
This called for drastic measures. I knew nothing of his personal life. As I recall, he was probably in his early to mid forties. In my imagination I gave him a wife and kids. I pictured him at breakfast in a bathrobe and messy hair. His wife put her arm around him lovingly and his kids kissed him goodbye as they left for school. If his kids and wife could love him, couldn’t I at least tolerate him? That relieved my tension enough for my mind to come back to the meeting. I never told him what I had done. I don’t recall doing anything different with him, but, from that day on he was easier to get along with. Sometime later he even bent some company rules to get us some concession I requested.
I am still amazed at how different he was after I changed me. When I stopped hating him he started liking me. Wow! What power! I could change the relationship by changing myself, not the other person.
I suspect that that experience has changed all my relationships since. I know it has made me a better husband and father.