We’ve all had it; be it client, boss, co-worker or friend. They want it. And they want it NOW!
In this day and age of high-speed communication – instant messages, email, voicemail, fax, pagers…. and the rest – we are all (supposedly) instantly accessible all of the time.
Google, Yahoo! and the rest of the search engines have brought a wealth of knowledge a few clicks away. I can talk to my Auntie May in Australia over the Internet either in real-time thanks to Skype or by email at a time that’s convenient, download last night’s TV show that I missed or view an out of print book all thanks to the wonders of the internet.
We’ve become so used to the instantaneousness of everything that we want it when we want it, not necessarily when it’s convenient for others.
Ah, the magic word…. convenient.
The problem is, in this day an age of super-fast almost light-speed communications, in business we expect an answer and we want it there and then and we won’t take “No” or “later” for an answer. That’s the definition of a “Now Brat”.
As out-sourcing and telecommuting have replaced the traditional 9-5 existence, we employ more and more tactics to get the answers sooner rather than later.
But surely there are reasons why we don’t get a reply from “Bob” 20 seconds after we sent that email? Of course there are but we seem, as a business culture, to be becoming less tolerant to that fact. After all, in the 21st century we are all customers (even within our own companies) and the customer is always right.
Just as a toddler stamps their feet in your local supermarket because you won’t buy the cereal with the Telletubby on the packet, a “Now Brat” will stomp their feet in many a strange way to grab your attention to try get what they want, when they want.
The “Now Brat” culture is rising and gaining more and more impetus as we all fall on to the band wagon and join in with the rest. So how do we avoid becoming something that we all (and admit it, you do hate it) despise and try to ignore?
Well, as they say, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. See if you recognise yourself in any of the situations below – either as the cause or the instigator!
Tactics of the “Now Brat”:
- Leaving voicemail
Leaving a single voicemail is never quite enough for the “Now Brat”. A true “Now Brat” will leave a message and then leave a second one five minutes later, not only re-iterating the entire contents of the first message but also checking that you received the first one and then letting you know they’ll call back in a few minutes. This could go on for quite some time until out of sheer desperation you call them just to get them to shut up – or change your number.To the “Now Brat”… Some people don’t answer their ‘phones for a reason, They could be on another line, busy with something more important than your request (I know it’s hard to imagine but it happens on occasion), or perhaps they just don’t want to talk to you at this point in time.
Bombarding them with calls is only going to make them put you at the back of (what is probably a very long) the queue.
- Email SpammingThe “Now Brat” fears email.With differing corporate guidelines on what emails can be received due to filters depending on the content and sender, they’re never quite sure if their emails are delivered. Consequently they send an initial email and when they don’t receive a response in about a minute they send it again copying in their boss (presumably so it looks like they’re actually working) and then send it again with their boss, your boss, the CEO, your Mum and someone who looked after their cat once CC’d in on the message. You could request a change of email address, set up some sort of “spam” filter to delete all emails from the “Now Brat” or let the cat-sitter look after it in this situation – you never know, they could be the next Bill Gates.To the “Now Brat”… If people don’t reply to emails, you can always assume they’re not near a computer (as hard as that may sound), perhaps your request is not important enough; their number 1 and 2 priorities are to fix global warming and stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons in North Korea so a “we’re out of loo roll” message can wait don’t you think? Anyway, have you never heard of a “Request Read Receipt”? Or maybe you’re just insecure.
- The Hummingbird Manoeuver
This is quality. If you’ve ever experienced it you’ll understand why I take such sheer delight in it. A “Now Brat” exhibiting the “Hummingbird Maneuver” is probably the finest sight you will see. They flap around your desk, arms waiving, and making some sort of buzzing noise that only another humming bird can understand. You don’t know what’s got them in such a flap, all you know is all your carefully placed paperwork on your desk has flown off in several different directions. The only problem is that they will remain doing this until they either collapse or you provide a solution to their problem(s) – which is difficult seeing as you have no idea what they’re on about. The only solution is to take a toilet break and not come back. Ever.To the “Now Brat”… What seems like a crisis to you may be trivial to someone else. Instead of getting so worked up until the point your head’s about to fall off try and sit rationally for a few minutes and think about the problem itself rather than what the worst outcome could be. Write down the problem, mindmap it, anything, but do that before you go playing chicken little to someone.
- Phone Bingo
Just because I tell you a person can’t answer their extension doesn’t mean that calling a different one will enable you to get through to them. You can call all the extensions in the world, you’ll get the same answer. We all know you’re randomly dialling numbers and we all know whether someone wants to talk to you or not – stop annoying the whole office and either leave a message (you never know, someone else may be able to help, stranger things have happened) or send an email and stop bugging everyone.To the “Now Brat”… You can leave messages and contrary to popular belief they are passed or – are acted on. Just because you dial every extension in an entire department doesn’t mean you’ll get a better/quicker response. You’ll just end up peeing more people in the company off… who will probably not pass your messages ever again.
- The Hoverfly
These guys are worse than midges just before a thunderstorm. They congregate around meeting rooms in swarms to suck the life-blood from their victims, draining them of any energy they had. Stopping people before a meeting is bad enough considering 9 times out of 10 they’ll have to present something and they’re not looking forward to it, but making them late for a meeting… way to go in alienating half the company!To the “Now Brat”… Outside a meeting room is nowhere to hold a meeting. Not only are the people you want to talk with about that have a meeting with people with way more important than you – others will be listening. By all means, schedule a meeting but don’t make anyone else late. They’ll look bad and so will you – Big Brother is everywhere and notices all…
- Kitchen SandwichEveryone knows the best place to be at a house party is in the kitchen (don’t ask me why but 20 years experience says it is) and therefore it’s a place to relax – even in the office. You can all talk about Janice from accounts and what happend when Danny from Warehousing approached her with that cucumber at the Christmas party (and probably discuss it for years) but you don’t discuss “business”. It’s almost a sacred spot. If you get someone “blah, blah, blah’ing” on at you then either point out that the CEO is behind them or fein the need for the toilet and leg-it.To the “Now Brat”… Leave it out! Can’t you wait until they get back to their desk at least? It takes maybe 5 minutes to make a coffee so unless your leg’s fallen off I don’t know what your problem is. If someone’s on the ‘phone for them take a message, otherwise wait – and don’t be a hoverfly or hummingbird about it!
- The TigerThey lie in wait – maybe for hours – and then POW! It’s 9am and you’ve just got into the office, not even had a chance to turn on your computer and there they are: “That email I sent you last night Yada yada yada…”. If I were you I’d say you never got it and ask them to resend it whilst you make a coffee, afterall we don’t all have to be sad baskets who work late into the night as we’ve got the correct organisational skills… right?!To the “Now Brat”… Leave it out! Just because you’re either too organised, unorganised, eager, behind or stupid – give people a break. It takes people about 30 minutes to get up-to-speed on their emails and days schedule before they can begin to prioritise what they need to do. All you’ll do is add uneccessary stress to the situation – or not get the response you want. Remember, patience is a virtue.
- Lunch money thief
Well, to be fair, not so much money but time. It’s not often that we actually get a lunch break and, if you’re like me, if you get one/take one you have it at your desk as it’s convenient. The lunch money thief sneaks up on you during a time you technically could be out of the office and asks you work-related questions so you end up actually working on your lunch-break. The problem is people still assume you’ve had your full lunch so get annoyed when you leave work at 5.30 the same as them when they’ve taken no lunch. The best bet you have is to bury your head in a large book and avoid all eye contact for the full hour – works for me, plus you can discuss the book you’re reading for the next 15 minutes with colleagues 😉To the “Now Brat”… If people are on lunch, they’re on lunch. Just because they’re in the office doesn’t mean they’re at your beck-and-call.Okay, I’m here”in case” but the “in-case” doesn’t cover the fact that you sent me an email 10 minutes into my hour lunch and I’ve not responded. I’m saving the environment by not driving anywhere you know.
- The Post-It BanditYou walk into work knowing that a colleague’s been in over the weekend and you find your entire desk awash with post-its. At one time the order of them would have made complete sense but now they’re an incoherent mess of gibberish. Even the person that wrote them can’t figure out what they were on about but you feel as though each one needs a solution/answer. Rubbish! If they can’t ask properly they don’t get (at least that’s what my dear old Mum said). Scoop ’em all up, dump them on the offending party’s desk and get them to sort the mess out.To the “Now Brat”… Instead of sticking a load of notes down on someones desk, mindmap the problem or write notes then write it up into a comprehensive email/memo/note. I suggest you read and re-read this several times until you’re sure you’ve got the order right then pass it over. Don’t leave someone with an unintelligable mess that they can’t possibly decipher with help from the NSA.
- Edward VIIIFor the non-English/Royalists amongst you, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry an American bird (well, the problem was only partly she was American, it was mainly that she was divorced – how times have changed eh Prince Charles?) Called something Wallace-Simpson. Anyway, the point is, he abdicated. The dictionary.com definition of abdicate is:
to renounce or relinquish a throne, right, power, claim, responsibility, or the like, esp. in a formal manner
Now, ignore “Throne” and replace with “Project” and you have your modern-day Edward VIII. They encompass all of the above 9 traits and eventually proclaim “It’s not my fault, I’m off..” when actually they could have done quite a bit to fix things. They denounce all responsibility and run a mile when things look like they’re going pear-shaped.
Their argument is always “I tried to contact you to ask/tell yoou….” which is what I’m sure Edward VIII said just after the Archbishop of Canterbury said his marraige wouldn’t be recognised by The Church of England.
For the “Now Brat”… Don’t force problems onto other people and then give up when you fall at the first hurdle. It’s too easy to give in. You respect people they’ll respect you. Sure you may not be able to get the exact result you want but there are ways and means (Edward abidacated, married Wallace-Simpson and become govenor of Bermuda (I think); mind you I think he also joined the Nazi party just before that ). And never, never, ever off load something onto someone else when they’ve not replied to a “crucial” email. Go up your business food-chain slightly before you start dropping people in it. Remember, what goes around comes around.
This is meant to be a slightly tongue-in-cheek post (if you hadn’t noticed) but I personally have come across all 10 examples in the past 12 months, I’m sure there are more… any one have any comments? Or anyone want to dare admit to being a “Now Brat“?
The one thing I’ll leave you with is a quote from my dear Mum (who could have made a fortune management consulting with her no-nonsense advice)…. “Always remember I want doesn’t get”.
It pays to be polite and ask…