Last week, I bought a World Cup cookie and gave it to a colleague. She immediately brightened up and we got over our argument from earlier in the day. That is the Cookie Hack in action.
The cookie hack is one of the simple tools you can use at the office to repair (or improve!) relationships. It’s such a rare gesture that few people ever think to do it. Read on to learn how to apply the cookie hack at the office. As you read, think about one person who you can help with this hack – ideally somebody who loves cookies and other treats. Thinking of that person is the first step to putting this hack into action. An unused hack is just as bad as an unused toothbrush – they’re both regular habits that make it easy for people to be around you
1. Choose Your Cookie Buddy
To get started with the cookie hack, start small. I know that some of you out there are already thinking about baking a dozen cookies (or more!). For now, I’ll ask you to restrain that admirable impulse. For now, simply buy 2 cookies. The cookie hack is a single gesture you can use to improve a professional relationship: it is best done on a one on one basis.
Action: Choose one person you work with at your office who appreciates a cookie (hint: 95% of people appreciate a cookie, especially a surprise cookie!
2. What Cookie To Buy?
When I developed the cookie hack, I simply went to my local Starbucks and bought a Soccer Ball shaped cookie. After all, the World Cup was in progress and soccer was on everyone’s minds. I also got two Starbucks stars (i.e. Frequent Flyer points for Starbucks) for buying the cookies, so that made it easy. I recommend choosing a cookie that is visually interesting in some way and in good condition. Since we’re giving away a cookie at the office, avoid cookies that appear likely to crumble. After all, you don’t want to create a mess for you or the other person!
Action: Pick a nearby coffee shop or other establishment where you can buy a cookie nearby your office (I suggest the local Starbucks; feel free to patronize your favourite bakery if you are lucky to have one nearby).
3.When To Buy Your Cookie
Timing is important in deploying the cookie hack.
Based on my experience, here’s what I suggest you do. During your lunch hour, leave your office and go to Starbucks. Take a look at the options and buy two cookies (one for you and one for them) and head back to the office. The sugar pick-me-up from a cookie is often appreciated in the afternoon. Before you go out and buy the cookies, confirm that your colleague is actually in the office today (you can deploy the cookie hack for remote staff but that’s for Advanced Users only). Oh, also remember to buy yourself the same cookie – that’s key for step five.
Action: Buy 2 cookie during your lunch break.
4. How To Deliver Your Cookie
Thinking of simply delivering the cookie to your colleague’s desk with a note? FAIL. Do not do that. No, that’s amateur hour. Don’t be one of those courier deliverymen who leave a note and disappear: you can do better than that.
Instead, take a look at their desk and check to see if they are on the phone and not talking with anybody else. Now, you’re finally ready to make your move. For the cookie hack to successfully work, you will need just a few minutes with them. By putting some thought into the process, you’ll be able to share the cookie experience and have a good conversation too.
Action: Walk over to your colleague’s desk, armed with two cookies. Remember to smile – you’re about to enjoy a cookie and conversation.
5. Enjoying The Cookie Conversation
At last, it’s time to actually head over there! You have your cookies in hand and you have confirmed that your colleague is available for a few minutes. Simply offer your colleague the cookie and say something like, “I picked up some cookies during lunch and brought you one.” It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. From this point, it’s up to you to make the most of the conversation. You could share some of your plans for the weekend (e.g. going for a run, finally finishing your novel and so on). Who knows – you may discover that your colleague is a fellow Shakespeare enthusiast or just as interested in Roman history as you.
Attention Workaholics: Resist the urge to focus on work and do not bring up missed deadlines or project deliverables. This is not a project management meeting! It’s a conversation focused on improving your relationship.
Action: Focus on your colleague during the conversation – leave your cell phone at your desk. Checking your email or answering a call during the cookie conversation will cause all your efforts to backfire.
Note: Enjoy the conversation and keep it relatively brief. Five to ten minutes is a reasonable length of time. After all, you both have work and project deliverables to accomplish.
6. Beyond the Cookie: Playing The Relationship Long Game
Congratulations! You have laid a key foundation stone for improving (or repairing) a relationship at the office. The very fact that you’ve read this article and put the cookie hack is fantastic. Your dedication to improving professional relationships puts you into the top 10% of the business world. This hack is a helpful tool to improve your relationships and help you deliver projects better. You don’t have to take my word for it either:
Not all projects succeed. On average, two in five projects do not meet their original goals and business intent, and one-half of those unsuccessful projects are related to ineffective communications. – The High Cost of Low Performance: The Essential Role of Communications by the Project Management Institute (PMI)
By deploying the Cookie Hack and other strategies to come on this website, you will be way ahead of the game in improving your communications, professional relationships and personal productivity.
Action: Set a calendar reminder to deploy the cookie hack once a month in Outlook, Google Calendar or your calendar system of choice. I suggest setting your reminder for a Friday afternoon – it’s a time when most people are starting to relax and think about the weekend anyway.
Why The Cookie Hack Works
Some of you reading this might think that the cookie hack is too simple to work. Let me address two objections you might have to implementing this hack to improve your project management skills.
“It’s Too Small To Work”
The cookie hack is the good plan that you can execute now rather than the grandiose plan that you keep polishing and never put into action. That’s the power of the cookie hack. I’m not asking you to implement a six month program with hundreds of tasks. I’m asking you to spend $5 or less and about twenty minutes to improve your professional relationships. This hack works because it’s a thoughtful gesture that is both rare and personal.
“Why do I have to bribe people? Can’t they just do their work?”
Let me guess – you’re a fan of Mr Spock from Star Trek? I am too. Unfortunately, very few people are like Mr Spock. It’s simply a fact that you can get better results – and be happier at the office – when you put time and effort into maintaining relationships. For some people, this will come naturally. For others, the cookie hack could be just what you need, a simple habit to improve relationships.
Other Ways To Use The Cookie Hack
I created the cookie hack to improve business relationships. That doesn’t mean you have no other options to apply this concept in your life. It all comes down to the art of the gesture and the magic of a gift. By applying the cookie hack, I have learned once more the pleasure of giving. Ultimately, it is not about what you give or how much it costs. This productivity hack is all about helping you to connect with other people by providing you with a specific action you can take.
Going for the small wins
I dream big dreams. It’s fun to make notes about your future plans, come up with a bucket list and embark on mastering new skills. There’s an unfortunate catch that very few experts talk about though: big dreams can be intimidating, even to the person who dreamed them up. If you set a big dream to have one million customers and you have yet to make one sale, the sheer scale of the dream can cause you to stop.
Small wins and tiny habits are the solution. The cookie hack shows you a practical way to improve relationships. For me, it was a big breakthrough. Compared to Microsoft Excel or coding, relationships can be a puzzle to crack. Yet, the cookie hack shows that you can apply habits and systems to the world of human relationships – if small wins are possible with people, then just imagine what else you could achieve!
Question & Action:
In the comments, answer this question: what happened when you deployed the cookie hack? Bonus points if your comment includes a photo of the cookies!