Tips for dealing with bureaucracy
I'm an optimist; I believe in progress and long-term improvement. Sometimes, when dealing with bureaucracy, I'm not so sure, though.
Recognize itBureaucracy is not the natural state in a competitive, capitalist economy; certain things seem to encourage it:
Find an internal champion
When someone tells you no, your first instinct might be to get mad at them. Don't do this.
Instead, try to get someone on your side. In many cases, the low-level people think the rules are as stupid as you do, but have no power to change them. Try to get them invested in your case; treat them with kindness, and you'll stand out among a sea of rude people.
Don't try to change the rules
Your odds of them changing the rules just to accommodate your unique set of circumstances: essentially zero. Don't delude yourself. This isn't the hill you want to die on.
Talk to people who recently went through the process; be an empiricist. Read the instructions, but realize they may not be followed.
Try to do things by mail/phone, not in the office. If you must make an in-person visit, try to make an appointment, schedule the visit off-hours, and in no case, ever, simply show up and expect to be served.
Bring every form of payment device you can muster, including cash, checks, debit, and credit cards. Bring at least 2-3 forms of government-issued identification, including your passport and driver's license.