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8 Oct 2012

Golfing Analogy: Working with People

People often feel that playing politics in the workplace is something dirty and to be avoided. Well, cleaning house and taking out the garbage is dirty work too, but it’s necessary. Still, it’s hard for some to see this as anything but compromising, “not being who I am.”

Yet, as we saw with honesty, euphemisms, online dating, respect and expectations, there is often a chasm between what people say they want and what they emotionally can accept. Consumer psychology (more) often highlights this chasm. Similarly, people will often say they want honesty and “the real you,” but their actions definitely point the other direction. Moreover, many people just don’t believe that unconscious influences affect them (more), especially in how they feel about us.

Therefore, being ourselves – without adapting to others’ sensitivities and preferences – is like playing golf only using the one club we like most. There’s a reason why golf allows us to use fourteen clubs; each hole on the course has a different personality. Moreover, each hole will treat us differently depending upon how we approach it and how it treats our shots.

Yes, we like to be ourselves, and we feel more comfortable with certain clubs in golf than we do with others. Similarly, we will always have preferences for specific tools, programs, scripts, words, songs, instruments, etc. in whatever work we do. Nevertheless, in order to be successful, we often must use things with which we are not entirely comfortable.

Of course, if we must adapt our actions and words to help others work with us, we need to remind ourselves that it’s just an act or a game; one that is necessary in order to succeed. In other words, we are just being pragmatic and not losing sight of who we truly are.

 

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