Unfair labor practices and dealing with difficult people see to always go hand-in-hand. How do you deal with it if you’re on the receiving end of the unfair practices? I’d like to give you some tips on how you might deal with this.

The tips are coming out of the bible, from the book of Daniel.

If you recall from my blog entry, the king of Babylon had a vivid dream that terrified him. He woke up, but immediately forgot what it was. So he called for his advisers and astrologers to tell him what the dream was, and what it meant. The group was a bit belligerent toward the king because they felt it was an unreasonable request. Because of that response, it was a very short stand-off between employer and employees. The king didn’t waste any time and ordered them to be executed.

Now Daniel, the young Jewish slave was not with the group of advisers that day. Maybe he wasn’t on duty, or maybe he was so young that they didn’t bother to call for him when for important king-stuff. But the order to execute the “wise men” included “all” wise men. Since Daniel was assigned to that working group, his head was to be put on the chopping block too. Was this an unfair labor policy? You bet.

But you know what, life isn’t fair. I’m sure you can remember a time in your life when you were punished for something you had no part in. It happens all the time.

So how would you react to this situation?

That is a question I would probably have a hard time answering too. This was before the new labor laws went into effect. So there wouldn’t be a government bureaucrat that you could go running to. There really wasn’t anyone you could appeal to in. It was a done-deal.

What would you do when you heard the knock on the door?

Here is what the bible says happened next:

So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.

When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him. Daniel 2:13-16 (NIV)

Let me break this passage down for you so you can get some tactics that you can use to deal with difficult people, particularly when that person happens to be your boss.

To begin with, we see that guards were sent out to track down all the wise men. They rounded them up and escorted them back to the place where they were to be executed. It reminds you of the modern-day equivalent of having the company security guards escort the fired employee out of the building.

Now there were probably several guards there, maybe like a firing squad. But there was one person in charge of the execution, who happened to be the commander of all the guard.

Notice that it appears that Daniel retains his wits. He seeks him out and talks to the commander using “wisdom and tact.” There is that word wisdom again. We’ve talked a lot about it at this website. Wisdom, as you’ll see here too, is the one quality that leads to success.

Daniel is in a serious sales situation. Yes, this is a “sales” situation. He has to sell the commander of the guard on the idea that he should get an audience with the king. If he fails to make the sale, he dies. If he succeeds, it could be worse than death. What’s worse than death? How about a lifetime of painful torture? Is that sales pressure, or what?

Since this is a sales situation, what would any salesman tell you are the keys to making a sale? In other words, what tactics would you use?

Sales Tactics For Success

The answer is to “ask questions.” We’ll come back to asking about questions, because that is the secret key that works in all kinds of situations.

And that is what Daniel does. He starts asking questions. “What is going on?” “Why such a harsh decree?”

Notice he doesn’t whine and complain. That is the opposite of what it says about how he spoke: with tact. “Tact,” according to the dictionary definition, is a “skill in situations in which other people’s feelings have to be considered.” If you’re whining about the unfair labor practices, you’re considering your own feelings only, not the person’s sitting on the other end of the table.

Somehow, the commander of the guard, was convinced to take Daniel in to see the king. Think about that for a second, and how much guts it took for the commander to disobey the order from his boss, the king. The order was to round up and execute all the wise men. He rounded them up, but instead of executing them, he’s bringing one of the younger men into see the king.

I imagine this would be like an episode of the “Apprentice.” Can you imagine Donald Trump working himself into a fury, and firing the whole team at once. And as they go out into the elevator to take them down and out of the building, the elevator operator stops the lift on the way down, and goes back up and escorts one of the team back into the room to see Mr. Trump. What do you think would happen to that elevator operator?

We’ll, it worked. Daniel did get an audience with the king.

What Do You Ask For?

Note what he asked for when he saw the king. He asked for “time.”

Wasn’t this the same thing that the other wise men had asked for previously? In a way, it was. But at the same time, it was different now.

Before, the king “accused” the other wise men of trying to stall for time. He thought that they were just going to cook up some “misleading and wicked thing” (Daniel 2:8-9). However, Daniel didn’t ask the king the same question the other wise men asked. He didn’t ask the king what he dreamt.

The reason he asked for time was so that he could put some thought into the dream’s interpretation. Was this a lie? He was implying to the king that he did know what the dream was — and at this point, he didn’t. So in that way, it was a half-truth. But what would you have done in that situation when you’re life was on the line?

I think the king had a soft spot in his heart for Daniel, because he did grant him the extra time he needed. Why?

Why Did Daniel Get Extra Time?

It might have been for any of several reasons. First, he was handsome; and we know it is a fact that good-looking people are treated differently from others. It ain’t fair, but it happens. Secondly, the king had met Daniel before and found him to be 10 times better than everyone else in his graduating class.

Third, he may have even heard about the food test that Daniel had done when he first came on staff. Daniel proposed that he be punished if he failed the test. So maybe, just maybe the king knew that Daniel had a bit more character than the other wise men and wasn’t going to skip out of town. He may have thought that if Daniel couldn’t say what the dream was, he’d fess up to that and be willing to face the consequences. Fourth, maybe the way Daniel talked to the king was different. He used “wisdom and tact” when talking to the commander of the guard, so I think it is safe to assume that he had the same manner when talking to the king. Probably even more-so.

Fifth, maybe the king trusted his commander’s recommendation more than anyone else at this point. The commander was risking his own neck by disobeying an order to execute Daniel, so it is possible that this implied endorsement was all that he needed to give him the extra time. I kind of lean toward this one as having the biggest influence, but when combined with the others, it may have been enough to sway the king to offer a temporary reprieve.

Tips On Saving Your Job In Unfair Labor Situations

This story has so much to offer about how to deal with unfair labor practices. Yesterday we talked about the things that don’t work in solving these problems, like groveling and seeking safety in large numbers. Don’t do those things or you WILL get fired. Here are some things we can take away from this story that should help you to deal with problems with coworkers. It will also help you to deal with customers that want to fire you and take their business to one of your competitors.

1. Remain calm. Being emotional only adds fuel to the fire.

2. Seek out the person in charge. Your goal is to get a face-to-face meeting with them.

3. If there is an intermediary in the room, seek him out first. Find out the facts of the situation. This is important, so read this twice: find out the facts as they appear to the other person. What you think are the facts, and what they think are almost always two different things.

4. Ask “QUALITY” Questions!!! This is the key to winning them over.

5. If you get the meeting with the other co-worker, remember to remain humble. Don’t repeat the mistakes that landed you in the hot-water in the first place. Use wisdom and tact.

6. Your goal of the meeting should be a temporary solution. Don’t try to win your job back permanently. They don’t trust you that much.

7. Recognize that if you get a temporary reprieve, you will have a lot of work to do that you’ll have to start on immediately. Clear your calendar of everything else.

8. The intermediary is important. But don’t draw them into the conversation. Daniel didn’t point it out to the king that the commander thought he deserved more time. The intermediary will have done for you as much as he can, just by getting you the meeting. If you draw him into the conversation more than this, I guarantee that he will quickly turn on you if he senses you even have the smallest hint of deceit in your voice. They won’t to be thrown under the bus with you.

9. You can remind the other person of your past performance and how much you have done for the company. But keep it very short. Let the other person do most of the talking. Let them vent their frustrations. This can often throw water on the fire, at which point you can make your short appeal for more time.

10. When you make your appeal, “Man-Up.” That means that you may not know the solution this very instant, but that having the extra time will allow you to clear your head and seek out the solution.

So many people just want to shift the blame to someone else (Daniel didn’t say he wasn’t in the room with the other wise men). If you accept responsibility, you are doing something totally unique that rarely happens in today’s business world. You are going to shock them when you Man-Up (if you are a woman, a good friend of mine uses the phrase: “pull up your big-girl panties.” It all means the same thing.)

11. Finally, make it clear that you aren’t trying to weasel your way out of punishment. This will reinforce in the mind of your unfair co-worker that your determination to get the job done is genuine. Again, this is so rare in today’s business climate that you’ll shock them into a state of confusion.

When you get them into this state of confusion, you really have the upper hand (at least temporarily). They can fire you at this point, or they can let you attempt to solve the problem. If they fire you, they original problem doesn’t go away. The king in the story still wouldn’t know what the dream was, let alone how to interpret it.

Keeping you around is less painful (in the short term) for the company. Why? Because the fear of the unknown is greater than the fear of the known. In other words, the company has to go out and hire a replacement, and hiring employees is often a crap-shoot. They don’t know what kind of employee that person will be. And in Daniel’s case, they had to train him for three years just to get him to this level. That is a lot of effort on the part of the company.

As bad as you are to them at this very instant, they’ve already sunk an investment of time and money into you. It is less risky to give you a little more time than having to go through the process of firing you and hiring someone else.

But if you remind them of this in your meeting, you’re doomed. They will instantly know that you are playing them. They know that if you do it once, you’ll do it twice. Understand? So never tell them it is less of a hassle to keep you around. Just say you’ll move heaven-and-earth to solve the problem. They already know all about the hassles they’d have to go through to replace you.

Use At Your Own Risk

I know these tips aren’t sanctioned by employee-relations lawyers. But what the heck to lawyers know about how people really react? They can only tell you to do the safe thing so that you can sue the company latter for the unfair labor practices. If that keeps you warm at night, so be it. But you’ll still lose your job in the end; and you’ll make your lawyer rich during the lawsuit process. The advice that comes out of the bible is never politically correct. Did you expect this to be any different?

Life isn’t always fair. Deal with it. Pull up your big girl panties or Man-Up, and deal with the situation.

Until next time: Be Fruitful, speak with wisdom and tact, and solve problems for others. They are all part of how to make money, God’s way.

About the Author: Tim Van Milligan believes in simple, pragmatic strategies and tactics for getting the desires of ones heart. No mumbo jumbo. Just exploitable wisdom that can be put quickly into practice to yield outstanding results. His philosophy comes through loud and clear at his web site: Make Money God’s Way, http://MakeMoneyGodsWay.com

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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