Good People Skills or Master Manipulation?




Correction Officer Whipple is one hard core dude. He gives direct orders in a hostile tone. He frowns a lot. He’s my boss.

When I went to the annual Native American Pow Wow, he docked my pay 2 hours. That’s $0.84! Do you know what I can buy for $0.84? Two soups and a chick-o-stick! Orrrr…a fruit danish. Orrrr…a pack of Now & Laters. Orrrr…aw heck! I’ll just post a store order sheet. Look for yourself at all the wonderful items c/o Whipple stole from me.

Store Order Sheet (click to enlarge)
Store Order Sheet
(click to enlarge)

Okay, maybe that last sentence was a little harsh. Oh well…that’s how I feel. He didn’t have to do that. He was just being a jerk. None of the other c/o’s I work with do that! I’m a hard worker and I do a good job. I complete all of my duties in less than one hour, but I get credit for 6 hours…unless Whipple is working. He loves to doc pay.

It’s Friday, 8:00am. We have baseball yard at 9:00am. This is one of two opportunities to get some softball practice in before our biggest game of the season. Because on Monday we play the only other undefeated team.

I need to find a way to get Whipple to let me go to our 9:00am practice.

I could just ask him. But there’s always other people standing around, listening. And Whipple likes to act “hard” in front of others. I’m in no mood to play his “power trip” games.

So I approach him and ask, “Does the break room need any work?”

As I’m cleaning the break room I casually bring up the Seahawks. Whipple loves the Seahawks. I give praise to Pete Carole and how he coaches every game like a championship game…including pre-season.

Whipple adds, “If you practice hard, you’ll play hard, and hard work pays off.”

This conversation is going perfect. It’s time to make my move. I verbally agree with his philosophy. Then I explain how hard we practice softball and how we’re the only team that practices regularly.

He asks, “What’s your record?”

I respond, “6-0, and we’ve outscored everyone 80-18.”

He says, “Yeah…see, all that hard work is paying off.”

Then I say, “Our next game is huge. On Monday we play H-3, they’re also 6-0. So do you mind if I go outside at 9:00am to practice with my team?”

Whipple lets out a slight sigh as if this pains him, then he answers, “Yeah…go ahead.”

At this point I wonder if he feels manipulated. Does he realize that I set up this entire situation just so I could increase my odds of him allowing me to go to practice? I feel a slight hinge of guilt. Then I conclude by expressing my gratitude, “Thank you. I appreciate it.”

So now I ask you, did I manipulate Whipple, or did I demonstrate good people skills?



Steven Jennings


One comment

  1. I think in the situation you are in, it was a little bit of both.
    To me both are needed from time to time to get what you want and or need.
    It’s a matter of finessing the situation appropriately and then ensuring you show gratitude when you get what you want.
    Being in prison I think is often delicate balance of a lot of things. Anything at anytime can happen to upset the daily flow of things from an unruly inmate to a CO that woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
    So inh opinion it was well played!


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