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Sunday, July 05, 2009


The Rehumanization of Networking with Douglas Castle

Whoever You Are:

This is my newly-featured column. Adam J. Kovitz (who loves to see his name in print) appeared to me in a vision and said, "Son, I believe it is time for you to write about whatever you want to write about, instead of the usual insipid, prosaic pap that I force you write about. Go off and build a life for yourself. Make me proud. Try not to be too graphic or use too much profanity."


I have done it. So have you. It feels degrading. It feels like enslavement. It feels embarrassing. It is emotionally exhausting. It robs you of your self-respect. It makes you look foolish to everyone who actually knows you. It takes so much of your time. And what's so very sad about it -- IT ALMOST NEVER WORKS!

Yes. I am speaking (and very quietly, so you have to listen very, very closely and carefully) about walking on eggshells. This is a social ritual where we perceive someone as being so valuable to us that we are prepared to compromise virtually everything, including our time, our opinions, our principles. We meet someone with something we'd like (i.e., investment capital, important contacts, personal fame, a wonderful body for our exploration, a great job opportunity), and we put him/her on a pedestal. We are afraid to ask for anything "prematurely," for fear that it will become obvious to this person that we are "after something." So we begin the dance.

We are inoffensive. We laugh at jokes that we don't think are funny. We "suck up". We stop being who we truly are, are try to become the person we thank that our targeted person would want us to be. We turn into Hoke, and the target person becomes Miss Daisy. Worst...we invest an incredible amount of time "romancing" the target person with absolutely no certainty that we will get that special something we are after. We always have the unsettling feeling that that person might lose interest in us, or stop noticing us, or become disenchanted with us, or think that we are too aggressive -- or, when we finally work up the courage to ask something of them --turn us down.

Here are some unsettling facts:

1. Our target person, no matter how seemingly stupid, invariably senses what we are doing;

2. Our target person actually resents our sycophantic, simpering, cloying conduct, but indulges us out of a sense of pity, entertainment, egomania or good manners;

3. Our target person is absolutely waiting for us to ask for something, or to make some request;

4. Our target person has been through this ritual as many times as we have;

5. Our target person has actually made up his or her mind as to whether or not he or she would like to engage us within the first hour of our acquaintance. With every minute after this, we are wasting time.

My suggestion: Don't ever prostitute yourself unless 1) you know that the other person wants what YOU have to offer and 2) can pay for it. Otherwise...

Do a flamenco on the eggshells at your soonest moment. Treat your targeted hotshot as you would another Human being. If you want something of that person, ASK. And ask soon. You can spend six months kissing up to someone who thinks that you are the quintessential numbskull, and be rejected in six months. Think of the wasted time. Think of all of those lunch and dinner tabs.

Learn to listen to and to trust your instincts about people. If your connection feels good, it is at least a 60% - 40% proposition that you can ask for something reasonable and get it in relatively short order. If your connection feels bad (when the person to whom you are trying to ingratiate yourself is not even making eye contact with you, and is looking around the room for other persons, or is smiling for the camera, or is obviously preoccupied or distracted) it is a 99% - 1% proposition that he or she has no interest in you, or in accommodating you. This is not to say that you should not use your best efforts (and charm, if you've got any) in order to get your target person's undivided attention for long enough to establish a brief Human-to-Human, one-on-one connection. Persistence pays. Ask Madonna, Stallone, Ted Turner, Donald Trump, Oprah, Bill Gates...

But bear in mind that persistence is very different than just "cozying up" (except possibly in the case of Madonna, who was a legendary innovator when it came to actually combining the two). Sometimes you can ask repeatedly, and the target person eventually relents. Be persistent in asking -- not in merely "getting close to greatness." Expedite the trial and error process by breaking the eggshells.

Don't walk on eggshells. Ask for what you want, and ask early on. Life is far too short and far to uncertain to waste a second of it away from the things that actually work. Ask for what you want. Ask early on. If someone says no, ask again. But understand that the game isn't on until you've actually asked.

Thank you, one and all.


Douglas Castle

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1 comment:

TheBusinessMD said...

Douglas so many people because of FEAR walk on eggshells because of believing in a reality that causes a reaction to being ADDICTED to NEED and Approval. So many because of FEAR will avoid living and function according to the REALITY of another because of being too afraid of living out their birthright. FEAR and walking on eggshells is a big waste of time. Mutual Equality and respect will never be part of any personal or professional relationship as long one chooses to function in a STATE of FEAR while walking on eggshells. ----- Christine West, TheBusinessMD, an industrial organizational psychology practitioner specializing in workplace behavior and overcoming self-created fears and obstacles.

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The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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