2 things help a lot when you are playing law/policy/rule enforcer –
- Take a moment to understand why the law exists in the first place
- Explain the rationale to the person you’re speaking to
Doing this helps avoid two issues that make such interactions tasteless – mindless policy-itis and a lack of empathy. Mindless policy-itis is when we say “It is not possible because that’s not how we do it here.” And, a lack of empathy is when we just shove the rule on someone’s throat without ever taking the time to understand why they might be asking for clarification or an exception.
Norms, rules, policies and laws are very important. But, when they don’t involve life and death situations (and, instead when they deal with – “Can I get a refund?” or “Can I return that product?” or “Can I please come to this event?”), it is worth revisiting why they were created. Every once a while, we might just realize it is worth making an exception or, in some cases, realize it is worth re-writing the rule.