When I was about 4, I received a gift from a generous relative. Upon opening it, I was cajoled to respond. Complying, I stared directly into her eager, inquiring face and flatly declared:
“I don’t like it.”
…and to this day, her crestfallen response is indelibly marked in my memory.
Two common settings for this cruelty include:
1) Admiring friends’ offspring. When this pertains to homo sapiens, I can buy in. People warrant respect. And infants all the more: I can totally get behind the awe of procreation.
However, my line is crossed when I am obliged to ooh and aah over a canine or feline. How much excitement can one be expected muster over a yelping, unhygienic slobbering animal unable to dialogue? Over what period of time is such feigned enthusiasm sustainable? Inhumane expectations.
2) Staff meetings. These are undoubtedly the most egregious examples of enforced enthusiasm*; particularly when they are kicked off by asking all participants to share with the group just what it is they love — the most — about Company A. The ensuing applause most often invariably owes to the fact that the employee has finished, rather than reflecting what s/he has actually shared.
But, being the solutions-oriented businessperson I am, I felt it was important end on a positive and constructive note:
Ways To Avoid Coercive Engagement (drawing off of real-life experience)
- Never use campy parables … unless good. Really good.
- Don’t regift the giveaways. If you must, do not disclose.
- Contain all meetings to 1.5 hours – max. If you have the choice of longer meeting with food, or shorter meeting without food, go without food.
- Make sure your schwag is dogfood you would eat, too.
* You can further reference the gem by Mike Judge at the bottom of this post for a lucid depiction of why this is just so wrong.