Par for the Course: Telling not asking

by | Aug 11, 2022

Mike, my husband, puts the groundskeeping crew at Augusta to shame. To say he is meticulous in his golf course superintending is to say it’s fairly warm in Florida right now. (Reference: heat index 108 today.) That guy could spot a weed on Mars. 

Tuesdays are Mike’s ride-around-with-the-GM day. 

Tuesdays are the day Mike comes home and vents about his ride-along-with-the-GM. 

“Ben rode my 🍑 about all of the little things. Pointing out weeds. Pointing out details. Pointing out this. Pointing out that…Like I need that guy telling me all of those things.” 

Ummm, has Ben not met Mike? Does he not know who he’s dealing with?

Of course he does. Mike’s been at this course for over a year now. The trust has been built. The greens have been dialed in. The reputation has been established. 

Yet still, Ben points out the obvious. 

Which OBVIOUSLY drives Mike nut-so. 

And I get to hear about it. Weekly. 😬

Which drives me…to write a newsletter about how to fix this situation. 😊

So here goes. 

First, I’d add Ben to this list. Second, I’d ask his intention behind the ride-along. 

Third, I’d ask him if he knows the impact his questions are having on Mike. 

While I can’t say for sure, his responses would most likely sound something like this:

First, why did you spam me?

Second, I’m trying to spend some time with Mike and get his perspective on the course. You know, our Tuesday bonding time!

Third, what do you mean, impact on Mike? He just sort of nods his head and agrees…although now that you mention it, he DOES look more like he’s twitching with anger than nodding in agreement…huh. 

There you have it. Ben’s intention: positive, strong, well-meaning. 

It’s the delivery that is causing the hiccup and in the worst sort of way.  One person doesn’t even know they’re doing anything to aggravate the other person and the other person can’t be bothered to say something to that person. Just vent to someone else. This is how things start to fester like a disease on a green. 

The good news: it’s a straightforward fix. 

Ask don’t tell. 

Get curious instead of stating the obvious. 

Get input instead of just sharing your thoughts. 

Imagine the outcome if Ben hopped in the cart, fired that puppy up, and turned to Mike and asked, “So, anything going on with your staff, equipment, anything else I should know about that would impact the course conditions?” 

It would then become obvious that meticulous Mike missed a weed because all the equipment is busted or on back order because supply chain. A chunk of his crew went back to school and it’s strangely hard to find people to work on a golf course when the heat index is 108, so he’s mad short-staffed. And oh, it hasn’t rained in a month. 

With THAT information, Ben has a fuller picture of the why behind the situation. He’s got a perspective other than his own. Now he’s got a deeper understanding of why things look the way they do and perhaps their time in the cart could be spent problem-solving for those circumstances. Instead of well-meaning nit-picking that’s causing unspoken resentment. 

My challenge to you this week: 

Is there a situation or circumstance you are seeing only from your perspective?

Is there an opportunity to get curious and imagine it from another view?

Is there a chance to ask instead of tell when you have a conversation with someone?

Where can you get input to help you reach a fuller understanding of the impact?

Good intentions, like a driver*, can only take you so far. You’ve got to practice curiosity and questioning to truly create connection. 

*Note: that is my final I golf-course analogy/metaphor. Forever.


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