Thursday, June 15, 2006

June 19, 2006


In past commentaries I have described the problems our younger workers are having with interpersonal relations/comunications. Many find it easier to plug into an iPod as opposed to working with others. This is resulting in a socially dysfunctional workplace where people work at odds with each other. To overcome this problem, I offer the following suggestions for improving a person's social intercourse. There is nothing magical here, just ten commonsense tips to help you develop better relationships with your coworkers, your vendors, and your customers.


Nobody wants to feel unwelcome or unappreciated. If they do, they will feel like outcasts and less likely to help you with something. The objective is to make people feel at home. This can be accomplished with a simple greeting or a firm handshake while looking at the person directly in the eyes.

It is easy to detect when a greeting is sincere or routine. Your goal is to appear genuinely concerned about the person. This can be achieved by:

- Complimenting on some personal attribute of the person (e.g., clothes, hair, car).

- Inquiring about a person's family (e.g., birthday observed, anniversary, graduation, pets, health, etc.)

- Asking about an event the person recently experienced (e.g., attendance at an event, participation in a volunteer organization/charity, a new job or project assignment, etc.),

- Commenting on something newsworthy - community, sports, weather ("What did you think about...?")

Such greetings are an expression of your interest in the person. Too often greetings become routine and, as such, less credible. Try to break it up.

A good, basic greeting can work wonders in building cooperation between people.


People have a natural curiosity as to what you are all about. The best way to communicate this is to engage in simple conversation. Some people are naturally shy and tend to withdraw from such discourse. If one person is not willing to start a conversation, another should take the initiative simply by asking the other, "How are you?" or "What do you think?"

A good icebreaker is to tell a joke. But in this day and age of "political correctness," exercise good judgment and taste in your humor. Avoid slang and offensive remarks unless the occasion calls for it. Goodhearted kidding and teasing is fine, as long as it doesn't turn malicious.

Some people do not have the gift of gab for telling jokes. As such, tell a story about some recent event that happened to you. But don't ramble. Stay focused and be sure your story has a point to it.

A conversation is a two-way street, regardless if it is humorous or serious in tone. Look interested, stay focused, and ask questions. Also be careful not to dominate a conversation unless that is your intention. If you have a tendency to monopolize a conversation, people will be less likely to engage in conversation with you.

For additional information on discourse, see:

No. 60 - "The Art of Persuasion" - Feb 20, 2006


Many people prefer to sit back and watch as others perform the work. Volunteering your time or skills may add an additional burden but it tells others you believe in them and are willing to help out. Such an expression also makes it easy for you to solicit support when you are in need of help.


Too often people are too proud (or too stubborn) to ask for directions in our journey through life. But asking for advice from a colleague accomplishes two things: first, you might get the answer you seek, and; second, it says to the person you trust and respect their opinion. By confiding in an individual, the advisor becomes concerned with your best interests. This leads to mutual trust and respect between people.

When you are asked to offer advice to another, be as articulate and rational as possible. If you do not know the correct answer, do not fabricate advice or mislead the person. This will only shatter the person's trust in you. Instead, point him in another direction where he might find the answer he is seeking.


It seems participation in trade groups and volunteer organizations today are dwindling. This is surprising since such groups provide a convenient vehicle to meet and exchange ideas with your peers. Such forums are useful:

  • To exercise our basic social skills.
  • To stay abreast of current developments in our field of interest.
  • To establish relationships with people who possess different skills and knowledge that can help us.

Instead of resisting networking with others, the younger generation should embrace it. I heartily recommend joining trade groups and volunteer/charity/fraternal organizations. Regardless of the group dynamics involved, such forums help to improve ourselves personally and professionally.


Today we live in a competitive society (some prefer the expression "a dog-eat-dog world"). I guess this is somewhat natural. There is nothing wrong with some friendly competition; it is when it turns vicious, thereby turning competitors into enemies, that you have to be careful. To overcome this problem, be gracious in defeat and magnanimous in victory. This was the secret to Abraham Lincoln's success. After losing earlier political campaigns, Lincoln would stun his opponents by appearing at their victory celebrations and offering a sincere hand of congratulations and support. Because of this, his early opponents became his proponents later on. After winning the presidential campaign of 1860 he again stunned his opponents by offering them seats in his cabinet. These former opponents became his closest confidants during the dark days of the American Civil War.

It is one thing to go into a contest confidently; it is quite another to go in with a chip on your shoulder, thereby inviting trouble. Take disagreements in stride and pick your fights carefully. Ask yourself if it is really necessary to create an enemy at this point in your career.


Your manners and how you interact with others says a lot about a person's character. Basic courtesy means you are socially well adjusted. No, I am not suggesting everyone turns into a "Miss Manners," but attention to basic courtesy can improve your image with others. Small details can have a dramatic effect. For example:

  • A simple Thank You note will be remembered for a service rendered. I have been a program chairman for various organizations over the years. After a speaker conducted a presentation for me, I would be sure to send a thank you note to him/her for their presentation (regardless if there was an honorarium or not). This is a nice personal touch that is remembered. Consequently, I never have a problem securing a speaker.

  • Invite others to participate in events. Again, a personal note can work wonders and makes people feel wanted. If you stumble over an omission on your invitation list (which inevitably happens), move swiftly to correct the omission. Include people, don't exclude them, let them know their presence has meaning to you.

Above all else, watch your temper. As the old adage admonishes us, "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar." A little courtesy can go a long way towards building fruitful relationships.


People naturally gravitate to others with a positive or upbeat personality. This doesn't mean we always have to wear a smiling face, but we should concede that people like optimists as opposed to pessimists. As such, we should always be looking for reasons why something should be done, as opposed to reasons why it shouldn't.

This leads us into the area of effective criticism. Avoid the temptation to maliciously criticize someone or something. First, it makes the person look like a whining and jealous naysayer; second, it tends to be more destructive as opposed to constructive. It is simply good practice, when identifying problems, to suggest alternatives as opposed to simply criticism. As Winston Churchill astutely observed, "Any idiot can see what is wrong with something. But can you see what is right?"

So, is the glass half empty or half full? Your answer says a lot about how people perceive you.


As I have frequently written in the past, if there is anything constant in life, it is change. Change is always around us, but it takes a perceptive person to be able to spot the smallest of changes, whether it be a new hair style, someone losing weight, a small job well done, or whatever. When a change is observed, ask yourself why it has happened. Be inquisitive and understand the rationale for the change. This will help you adapt to the change as well as improve your interpersonal relations. For example, people are easily flattered when someone compliments them on a change. It means you are perceptive and interested in the person, both of which puts you in good standing with the other person.

Included in this area is the observance of the names of people. It is embarrassing to both parties when a name is forgotten. In particular, it sends a signal to the other person that he/she is irrelevant in your eyes. This certainly does not help build relationships. Asking for business cards is one thing, remembering names is something else. This may require a little effort but it is time well spent.

It is these little observations that go a long way. As an example, perhaps the best secretary I ever saw was a lady named Myrna who worked for an MIS Director in Chicago. The first time I visited the office, Myrna warmly greeted me and asked if I wanted a cup of coffee. Saying Yes, she then asked me what I wanted in it. I said cream and sugar, which she then made for me. Months later when I returned to visit the MIS Director, Myrna greeted me by name and presented me with a cup of coffee with cream and sugar. Frankly, I was startled that she not only remembered my name but how I also liked my coffee. Later I found out that Myrna maintained a simple card file; whenever someone visited the office, Myrna would record their name and the type of coffee they liked. Sharp. Very sharp.


The linchpin to good interpersonal relations is trust. Regardless of our form of discourse, nothing builds trust better than honesty, the basic building block of confidence. Having an honest character conveys an image that you are dependable, that your word is your bond, and you can be trusted to do the right thing. But your reputation can be shattered overnight if you are caught in a lie. Therefore, don't falsify or mislead. If you do not know an answer, do not fabricate one, but make every attempt to find the answer elsewhere.

We now live in an age where it is more commonplace to cover-up a mistake as opposed to admit to it. Inevitably, all hell will break loose when the cover-up is discovered. Instead, admit a mistake early on, correct it, and earn the respect of your coworkers.

Give credit where credit is due. Remember this, nobody wants to work with someone they fear will wrong, cheat or defraud them.


There are other areas I could have gone into with this article, such as "persistence" and "leadership," but they would fall outside of the scope of improving social intercourse. I could have also covered such things as "gossip" and "finger pointing" but, instead, I was looking for those basic elements for people to improve themselves, not others.

Early in my college career I learned, "We enjoy life through the help and society of others." True words. Like it or not, we must interact with other people on a daily basis. The tips I have described, while admittedly are simple, can greatly facilitate how we interact with each other, thereby making our companies a better place to work and live.

Look, its really not that complicated; just use your head, loosen up a bit, treat others as you would have them treat you, and try not to stick your foot in your mouth.

OUR BRYCE'S LAW OF THE WEEK therefore is...
"Social intercourse is a two way street. Make sure you are driving on the right side."


Folks, if you liked this week's essay, you'll love a new eBook we released last week entitled, "The Bryce is Right! Empowering Managers in today's Corporate Culture." This is a frank and candid description of the state of the art in management and includes essays on the problems in management today, along with some pragmatic advice on how to deal with them. Basically, this is a condensed course in management. As such, it is suited for managers, either those aspiring to become a manager or for those who need a refresher course. It will also be of interest to young people entering the work force, and is excellent for college curriculums.

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And Pat O'Callaghan of Philadelphia says, "If you don't want to manage right. Do not read this book. The book contains philosophies that are universal and fundamental."

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The Society for Information Management will be holding their SIMposium 2006 on September 17-20 at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas, Texas. For information, contact SIM headquarters in Chicago at 312/527-6734

If you have got an upcoming IRM related event you want mentioned, please e-mail the date, time and location of the event to


Friends, I don't know if you've seen it yet, but we've added a Frapper map to the "Management Visions" web site. Frapper is a free mapping service offered by the folks at Rising Concepts, LLC, and allows you to plot yourself on a worldwide map. This is a great way to keep track of our listeners and I encourage you to try it out through our web page or by clicking HERE.


Last week I spoke on how Agile Methodologies for software development are trying to creep into other parts of the business. Normally I don't like to repeat a topic, but a couple of things happened this past week which has caused me to pursue this a little further.

The first was a multimedia broadcast I saw on the Internet which consisted of one of the latest industry gurus espousing the virtues of Agile Methodologies. He made an interesting comment which took me by surprise; he contended that programmers are in the business of producing software, not producing documentation. He contended that producing design documentation was a complete waste of time and detracted from the real mission of programming. This is like trying to build a house without a set of blueprints. Without some form of documentation, there is no way to adequately specify what it to be done, thereby we can never substantiate that we have satisfied the requirements. Further, without documentation, it is difficult to maintain or modify anything. But this guru adamantly stuck to his guns.

The second event that happened this past week was that I happened to get a call from one of our first customers who used "PRIDE" back in the 1970's. We happened to get on to the subject of today's Agile Methodologies which he was familiar with. He said, "Tim, there is nothing new here; its the same old shell game we played back in the 1960's and 1970's. Instead of laying out designs, we rushed to the coding pages and kept hacking away at the problem until we either wore out the end-user or ourselves. All they have done is just put a new spin on it."

To me, Agile Methodologies are a confirmation that programmers lack discipline, organization, and accountability. It also confirms their identity as free-spirited artists. You know, I have only met a handful of true programming geniuses along the way, such as Robert Beamer and Tom Richley; these are the true artists in my opinion. Most are just common house painters. So the question becomes: Do we believe systems development is an art-form or a science? An art-form implies an expression of taste and creativity that an individual intuitively possesses. Teaching the skills of the artist is extremely difficult to pass on from one person to another. A science, on the other hand, is based on accepted concepts and principles, something that can be easily taught and passed on to others. And this does not imply it lacks creativity. I find such disciplines as engineering and architecture hold a lot of creativity. As for me, I believe development is a science. And if we are ever going to tackle the huge backlog of requests for systems and software that business demands, we better start teaching it as such.

The thing that gets me is that the Agile Methodologists are serious about what they are doing. To me, they're simply dangerous.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.


I received an e-mail from a Jon Harris in New York who wrote me regarding last week's essay entitled, "Firing Employees isn't for Sissies."
Jon writes:

"I could relate to your comments regarding firing employees. I work for an investment firm in New York and we tend to be a little more cutthroat here. I have seen numerous employees fired over the years for poor performance. Its not done as structured as you suggest in your broadcast though. I've seen tempers rise on both sides of the table. Frankly, its not the most professional terminations I have ever seen, and we have the lawsuits to prove it."

Thanks Jon for your note,

Yea, lawsuits involving employee termination is big business in this country. Most of this could be avoided with a little training though. Either that or hire someone who's forte is job termination. This could either be an internal employee or an outside consultant. Frankly, I think it comes off better if done by an internal employee. Better yet, the manager himself.

Again, Thanks for your e-mail. Keep those cards and letters coming.


We're pleased to announce the release of a new book on our "PRIDE" Methodologies for IRM. Actually, we've created two versions of the same book, an eBook version (in PDF format), and an Audio Book (in MP3 format). Both compliment the Internet version available through our corporate web site. The eBook version is 363 pages in length and includes full tutorials on Enterprise Engineering, Systems Engineering, Data Base Engineering, and Project Management, complete with examples and a quick navigation to guide you through the book. The Audio Book is an abridged version which includes over nine hours of audio. The eBook version is priced at $49 plus tax, the Audio Book is priced at $54 plus tax, and a discounted packaged price for both is $93 plus tax. The book is excellent for both corporate developers as well as at the university level where it complements a college curriculum.

Summers Hagerman of Cincinnati says, "This book provides management with a complete set of powerful tools for managing the largest information systems projects."

Check it out at:

MBA is an international management consulting firm specializing in Information Resource Management. We offer training, consulting, and writing services in the areas of Enterprise Engineering, Systems Engineering, Data Base Engineering, Project Management, Methodologies and Repositories. For information, call us at 727/786-4567. For a complete listing of my essays, see the "PRIDE" Special Subject Bulletins section of our corporate web site.

Our corporate web page is at:

Management Visions is a presentation of M. Bryce & Associates, a division of M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. The program is produced on a weekly basis and updated on Sundays. It is available in versions for RealPlayer, Microsoft Media Player, and MP3 suitable for Podcasting. See our web site for details. You'll find our broadcast listed in several Podcast and Internet Search engines, as well as Apples' iTunes.

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Copyright © 2006 by M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. All rights reserved. "PRIDE" is the registered trademark of M&JB Investment Company.

This is Tim Bryce reporting.

Since 1971: "Software for the finest computer - the Mind."



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