‘With’ vs. ‘At’

How do you have somebody do your bidding?

As teachers, leaders, well-wishers and salespeople (spot the odd man out) we often wish for somebody to do our bidding. But only too often, we aren’t able to have people do our bidding.

The crucial distinction here is between ‘with’ and ‘at’. To do something with somebody is to first work hard and secure their permission before leading them. It is to listen to them, to gain their influence and to earn their trust.

To do something at somebody is to compensate permission with authority or persistence. It to have somebody obey you merely because you’re higher up on a hierarchy or to persistently nag them until they finally give in.

To gain permission is hard to begin with, but easier in the long-run. To shout orders is easy. It gets things done in the short run, but you pay for it with your credibility.

Inspiration: Seth Godin

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