Who Around You is Worthy of Good Treatment

Our weekend guests, Amanda and Aaron, will be in their 4th year at Ball State University where they each are working toward their degrees in music education.

As they were reflecting on insights gleaned of late, one comment surfaced: “It’s now clear that we treat the school librarians well. They can be the ones buying texts and resources our budgets can’t afford!”
I agree. Befriending someone who has the power to give you quality resources is essential. Harolyn Legg was that person for me.

A past school teacher myself, I’ve since recalled 2 other important relationships in my tenure of teaching: the school secretary and the custodian. From Nancy Stillberger to Pam Schimmoehler, I realized the role of school secretary is more of a roller coaster ride than that of a classroom teacher. They deal with all the complainers – not just some, but all.

They deal with the tardies, those sent to the office, those wanting to leave early. They deal with the teachers cramming at the last minute to reproduce tests and quizzes and then facing the copy machine problems. They deal with the parking issues, the parking lot issues, the bathroom incidents, the issues from the administration end (principal, guidance counselor, athletic director, etc.). And they have to smile each time the door opens, as they are the face of the school.

Get them on your good side, and they are your advocate to the administration, to the complaining students and to fellow faculty members. Get them on your bad side and they can create a chain reaction you don’t want to contemplate.

The custodians – Bud Cavin and Dave Gary – were the highest on my list, however. As someone early to enter the building and late to leave, I had to navigate throughout the areas of the building that sometimes weren’t yet unlocked, or had already been closed for the day. A drama teacher, volleyball and basketball coach, I needed access all over the building at odd hours. It was the custodian who could help me out if I wasn’t carrying my keys.

During set building days and nights, Dave Gary was a lifesaver when I needed assistance moving set pieces, scrubbing the stage floor, cleaning up after painting days or just needed to vent to someone before leaving in the wee hours of the morning during “hell week” (the week of theatre production).
If those relationships went sour, life was unbearable. Custodians have the most power in the school system. They hold the keys. They are the security (for systems who don’t partner with local authorities), the muscle, the authority during after hours that both students and faculty run to.

Consider who is worthy of good treatment in your building or office. It may not be someone by title you would anticipate having extreme power. But they are those who make or break the effectiveness of your ability to get the job done. This interpersonal relationship building is something to focus on regularly.

Frank Ramos suggests the legal assistant is worth building relationship with. Working With Your Legal Assistant is his latest post on the topic. Read it. There are great tips and communication behaviors for how to make the relationship work.

Got other ideas of who to treat well in your surroundings? Please comment. And if there are tips other than the 5 Frank mentions, let us know!

Share Button
On July 19th, 2011, posted in: communication, Frank Ramos, interpersonal skills by