What four hours of golf can show in your customers
There’s really no better place to conduct business than on the golf course. With its lengthy game on the greens, fairways, and bunkers — and no cell phones allowed — it can be one of the greatest ways to build and maintain a business relationship, particularly in a culture that’s inundated with iPhones, the Internet and other distractions.
By spending an afternoon with a business associate in the great outdoors, you have the opportunity to share in a common goal — to beat each other or beat the course. And while business is not to be discussed until the end of the round, the competitive environment can often reveal several telling personality traits from which you can decipher if the relationship is worth working on or worth running from. Here are a few characteristics to watch out for while on the course:
The Cheater is someone who fudges the score and moves the ball around in the rough. You notice what they are doing but are too embarrassed for them to say anything. By doing this, the Cheater reveals that he or she is very competitive and wants to win by any means necessary. But the Cheater’s decision to alter the environment for victory could translate into trouble in the workplace. This tendency toward dishonesty could result in the potential for falsifying documents or slamming a coworker to try and maintain status.
The Hot Head
The Hot Head is someone who bangs his or her clubs against the ground after a bad shot and mumbles obscenities. This is the person who makes others feel uncomfortable and intimidated — on and off the course — because this type of rage will also likely appear in the workplace. Typically directed at a subordinate, you might see this person yelling at the secretary for misplacing a document or overreacting during a crisis or other high-stress situation.
And then you have the Obsessors who constantly focus on the negative. This is the player who won’t let go of the bad shot back on No. 4 or the bogey recorded over on eight, despite three consecutive birdies in between. They talk to themselves on the course, making it uncomfortable for others, and always concentrate on themselves and what they’re doing wrong. Obsessors tend to be micromanagers, which means that proper delegation and management isn’t happening in the office; probably because he or she doesn’t trust others to do the job right. This pessimistic outlook can be draining on a business relationship and is something you may want to keep in mind before committing to anything long-term. Please note: The marked difference between The Obsessor and The Perfectionist depends on an individual’s response to the whether the glass is half empty or half full.
Finally there is The Sulker; someone who becomes silent when things on the course are going badly for them, or when another member of the group offers tips to help solve that slice, for example. When asked what’s wrong, The Sulker sighs deeply and says, “Nothing.” Golfers who sulk or pout will likely do the same in a work environment. He or she might complain about their workload or company policies they think are unfair, or worse yet, try to drag others down with them. This is someone who is incapable of keeping his or her eye on the ball, i.e. the overall business objective, and you don’t want to be around because they are so self-absorbed.
Encountering these characteristics in a potential customer or business associate is more common than one might think and often means the person is too caught up in the final result than in enjoying the process of getting there. Rather than taking advantage of a day on the course, the beautiful weather, and the camaraderie, he or she is rushed, unable to focus on the subject at hand and too concerned with other things to make the most out of the opportunity; all things you don’t want when it comes to business.
On the other hand, if you have the pleasure of playing with a client who is level-headed, follows the rules and is helpful toward others, you’ve probably got a keeper. A golfer who greets you with a firm handshake and smile, displays a positive attitude (no matter his or her talent for the game), and knows how to take full advantage of the opportunity presented is a good indication of positive things to come at the office or in another business setting. This is because the idea behind pairing business and golf is making new friends and maintaining relationships; something that is accomplished during the four-plus hours spent getting to know each other on the course. Only after the round is complete should any type of business be brought up or discussed. If it does come up during play, politely ask if it can wait until the end. Judging by your partner’s response, you should be able to tell if the deal is worth doing.
Charlie Kent is director of operations at the golf courses at Incline Village and the Professional Golf Association of Northern California’s Merchandiser of the Year. Contact him through http://www.GolfIncline.com or at 775-832-1100.
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