Posted by: LYF | November 16, 2011

Some soft skills

The Inception

Hard to pull off but very effective.  The goal is to slip an idea into another person’s mind unnoticed.  For example, if you’re on a project that will be wrapping up soon, start talking about the more difficult parts with your manager.  Then ask for feedback on a piece of the project where you know you performed well.  Two things will happen.  One, the high degree of difficulty will be placed in your manager’s mind and two your manager will remember the high quality of your work.  The end result being a good performance review.  This may seem like a crude example, but inceptioning people is a very important skill to have.

I started reading Thinking, Fast and Slow yesterday and learned that this process is actually called “Priming.”

Tucking a compliment into a request

This is useful for when you want someone to do you a favour.  As you’re asking the favour be sure to give them a compliment.  “Hey, can you do this analysis in excel?  I know you’re really good with pivot tables and the last report you gave me was really well received.”  This works surprisingly well.

Hand on the shoulder technique

If you want to increase the likelihood of someone doing something for you, put your hand on their shoulder when you ask.  It puts you in a more powerful position.

Dress better when you don’t know what you’re talking about

A friend of mine told me a story about someone he knew who worked in medical sales.  During his first week this person bought a new Mercedes (which he couldn’t afford) because it gave people the impression that he was knowledgeable.  We have to “sell” everyday.  Dressing well helps you sell yourself.  And when you don’t know what you’re talking about, it can give you that extra ounce of credibility when you need it.

Shit sandwhich for constructive feedback

Tell the person something positive they did, followed by constructive feedback and finally sandwiched with another positive.  The first positive gets the person receptive to your feedback and the last one keeps them happy – making them more likely to retain what you’ve said.

Horizontal push-back

Passing off work to someone at your level.

Don’t email people bad news if you can avoid it

People sometimes use email as a way to record conversations.  If you have screwed something up, or promised something that you can’t deliver, share that information in person.  It won’t prevent someone from sending an email describing how you screwed up, but it will put you in a better position to defend yourself going forward.


  1. A lot of people can see through some of the patronizing treatment. I can see a shit sandwich coming every time. The shoulder touch and other awkward, pandering physical contact is always weird, usually garnering the opposite effect than desired.

    The compliment in a request does work pretty well on just about anyone, and is so simple. The inception/priming also works well too, but isn’t quite as simple.

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