Know when to air kiss and when to shake hands, new book advises

Directory of Social Change chief executive Debra Allcock Tyler recounts the true story of how she once nearly "snogged" a nameless voluntary sector luminary in her humorous new book about building good working relationships in the voluntary sector.

Carton by Griselda
Carton by Griselda

In The Pleasure and the Pain: the no-fibbing guide to working with people, Allcock Tyler comes clean about the incident – a near-miss when going to ‘air kiss’ a colleague who preferred to shake hands – to illustrate who easy it is to mis-read communication signals.

The book, which is illustrated with cartoons, is aimed at “anybody who works with people or aspires to be human”.

Allock Tyler, who has 20 years’ experience of coaching people in both the voluntary sector and business, says the book challenges many aspects of received wisdom – particularly regarding the worker-boss relationship. Among her observations are “bosses are not part of your team”, “you have to motivate yourself, it’s not your boss’s job” and “bosses are human too”.

“We have high expectations of bosses,” she told Third Sector Online. “We don’t give them enough of a break.”

Her advice for people who think their boss is “an idiot” is to act as if they are not. “You can’t change beliefs but you can change behaviour,” she said. “If you praise your boss when they do stuff well they will do it again.”

Allcock Tyler, who previously wrote a leadership guide called It’s Tough at the Top, also warns against vicious circles such as behaving like “a worm”. This, she says, “leads to being treated like a worm, which leads to feeling like a worm, which leads to more worm-like behaviour.”

Another of her observations is “money will not make you happy”. She admitted that people don’t generally expect to be paid a lot in the voluntary sector, but said they feel resentful when they see others being paid more for doing similar work, such as chief executives of similar-sized charities.

She also said voluntary sector workers’ obsession with their causes can lead them to neglect their fellow workers and “forget to be human”.

“If you look at bullying tribunals and helplines you see that the voluntary sector is way up there,” she noted.
The book is published by the DSC and is available to buy online on the organisation’s website.

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