Perhaps this is something we don’t like admitting, but although we may want to get things done as soon as possible, sometimes it will just take longer. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
I’ve just managed to get a Spanish driving licence for a friend. It’s been a process which started a few months ago and as is the case in most places, dealing with bureaucracy can be a challenge and in Spain, perhaps more so. Either way, after several months and visits to various official administrative departments, I collected the document this morning and I’m relieved and happy, even though it perhaps took longer than it needed to.
However, when faced with a potentially unfriendly beast such as government departments with some staff who lean more towards the ‘computer-says-no’ school of customer service, I have found there are are four key elements to get what you are looking for:
1) be prepared, do your homework and make umpteen copies
2) focus on developing a relationship with whoever can help you as opposed to having a go at who is being obstructive. Perhaps I should have known that the grumpy man in the pink trousers was not going to be the most helpful. Having said that, can you ever trust anybody in pink trousers?!
3) take a breath and be patient (this one is important)
4) take another breath and be a little bit more patient (more important than the last)
Bruce Lee talked about ‘being like water’ where the water in a bottle takes the shape of the bottle or whatever container it is in.
In this case, I had to assume the shape of the staff in the Traffic Department and ‘speak their language’. In time, it worked, but in the meantime, being like water and working together with the ‘system’ was ultimately much more productive than if I had fought against it.
This approach may not work in all situations, but I know the next time I will have to deal with Spanish bureaucracy, like Bruce Lee, I will most certainly aim to ‘be like water’…