Masking Your Disapproval

>> Friday, September 11, 2009

It was the shout-out heard 'round the world that evidently can hit pretty close to home.

I love this blog post from Stu Fink, our ACD, because he watches someone else's big time "mistake" and learns from it. We'll call it a "coaching moment".

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

What's up, Stu?

So, even before Rep. Joe Wilson shouted, “you lie!” during President Obama’s address Wednesday night, I was sickened by the sight of many of our elected officials behaving like petulant children unaccustomed to not getting their way.

There they sat, many of them stone-faced or grimacing. Some were shaking their heads in mock-disbelief. Others were busy typing away on their blackberries while the President spoke. Many flailed their arms in the air, jockeying for both the president and the camera’s eye. It was a shameful and immature display.

And all I could think was, “is that what my co-workers and clients see when they’re sitting across the table from me? I wasn’t sick to my stomach because I was watching politicians behave like brats. I was sick to my stomach because I looked into my TV and feared I saw myself staring back at me.

Lest you think, I’m the only one within the halls of our agency with a terrible poker face, think again. I’ve been on the receiving end of withering looks of disapproval more often than I care to remember. And they’ve come from account people, planners, clients, fellow creatives, project managers, hell, even the guy who runs the newsstand once eviscerated me with a scowl and arched eyebrow. I think I tried to buy The Post with a fifty.

I guess my point is this: I’ve never had a client respond to one my of patented eye-rolls by saying, “hey, you know what, thanks for showing me how stupid you think I am. Let’s do it your way.” Now one can argue – and I’ve tried and failed to make this argument with my bosses – that outwardly showing your displeasure is a sign of passion and dedication. It shows clients and colleagues that you “care.” But it doesn’t. It shows clients and colleagues that you’re an jerk (note from Jim: Stu didn't use the word "jerk").

I am a work-in-progress. I’m trying to get better. Stabbing your thigh with a pencil under the table is a good way to covertly work out your aggression, by the way. Now, I wish I could say I’m trying to get better because it’s the responsible, mature thing to do. But the truth is, I’m trying to get better because I keep losing arguments I badly want to win.

Whether it’s trying to convince a client to make the logo smaller or, perhaps slightly more importantly, trying to achieve bi-partisan support for universal health care, you’re not going to win by behaving like a jerk (note from Jim: Stu didn't use the word "jerk"). So, lets stop holding our politicians to a higher standard than the standard we set for ourselves.

I’m doing my best. I encourage all of you to do the same. Now try and read that last sentence without rolling your eyes. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth the effort. (note from Jim: you taught me something today, Stu)

- Stu Fink, Associate Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


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