I never understood the true dynamics of modern office life until I worked a short-term gig at a law firm. On my first day, I was given the best advice of my life: always make friends with the secretaries. They may not be the ones raking in the big bucks, but the girl behind the desk is your first step to getting your calls through to the higher-ups, making sure your complaints get heard, and sparing yourself needless red tape.
Now that I’m a secretary myself, whenever I deal with other companies I vomit straight sunshine on everyone with “Assistant” in their job title.
Things my job has taught me about how to win the love of the single most important person in the office:
Learn to talk on the dang phone. Pro tip: if you want me to direct your call, you might want to consider telling me — oh, I don’t know, your name? Other points of professional interest: what company you’re calling from; who you want to talk to; if they’re expecting your call; the five-word recap of your issue. Not of interest: the rest of your friggin’ life story.
No, seriously, please don’t tell me your life story. You came in right as I was eating breakfast at my desk.
Master the candy bowl. Don’t feel awkward about taking a piece — that’s what they’re there for! But most secretaries stock the bowl out of their own salaries, so a “thank you!” is sincerely appreciated. And if I ever catch you needlessly sending me to the photocopier so you can jam a double-handful of Hershey’s Kisses into your jacket pocket, I will hide the bowl next time you come in, oinky.
If it’s after 9:01AM, we are aware of the current weather situation. Don’t get me wrong — I love it when people chat with me. It makes it easier to wear a face-eating grin 40 hours a week. But you can get a little racier with the small talk. Saw a funny license plate or a scuffle on the street? Let ‘er rip! I hunger for amusing news of the outside world!
The magic word is NOT “I can get you fired.” Oh really, buddy? Go ahead. And while you’re busy complaining to my boss, I’m going to be gathering an arbitrarily large pile of paperwork to make sure that the simplest task you want to accomplish will turn into a two-hour bureaucratic nightmare.
We may be humans with kind of lame jobs, but we are humans. Efficient though I am, I’m not a computer. Common mistake. You’re having a bad day? I feel that. But I’m a nice girl who just wants to help you make this interaction painless. Choke down the bile long enough to let me do that and maybe we can both walk away from each other a little happier than we were before.
Huh, what do you know? Turns out the secret to winning over secretaries is made up of the basic tenets of being an overall cool dude: don’t yell at people, be nicer than you have to be, and don’t hog candy. Your kindergarten teacher would be so proud!
“Secretary” courtesy of SteamPunkWallpaper.com
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