You Can't Control What Other People Think
by Rick Brenner
Ever think that the world would be a much better place if you could control what other people think? Maybe it would be. And maybe not...
Maybe you've never thought this, but many people have: "The World would be a better place if only people would think like I do." Rarely is this a useful thought. You can influence others, once in a while, maybe. But you can't control what other people think. The evidence is overwhelming.
In a world where people can control what other people think:
- …there will be only one brand of toothpaste, and we'll all like it
- …meetings will be much shorter because we'll always agree about everything and we'll all arrive on time
- …there will be no divorce lawyers, because there will be no divorces
- …there will be a broccoli shortage because the broccoli people will figure out how to make everyone like it
- …there will be no need for war, bullies, editorials, elections, cosmetics, or advertising. Hmmm. Sounds pretty good.
- …we'll be able to control what we ourselves think (I don't know about you, but I can't do that now)
- …we won't lose as many arguments because everyone will have the same opinion
- …we won't have to dress to impress anyone else, because we'll figure out other ways to impress them that don't involve dry cleaning
- …there will be no salespeople because everyone with something to sell will know how to make us want it
- …we won't have to say You can't control what other
people think. The evidence
is overwhelming.no to anyone because we'll know how to force them to withdraw their requests or not make them in the first place
- …we'll be able to trust everyone
- …our supervisors will love everything we do
- …the people we supervise will love doing whatever we ask them to do
- …all projects will have the resources and time their people think they need (but they will still be wrong by 100%)
- …cable news programs will still be bad, but instead of their guests yelling at each other, they will all agree with each other
- …children will rule the world
- …no, never mind, dogs will rule the world
- …lying will actually work
- …performance reviews will all be "exceeds expectations"
- …raises will still be low, but we'll think they're fine
- …employers won't provide paid vacation time, because we'll all be perfectly happy working 52 weeks
- …everyone will be patriotic in ways we approve of
- …there will be no new ideas because everyone will think, "Hey, I thought of that, too"
- …we'll all be wrong at exactly the same time, in exactly the same way
- …there will be only one country
- …people will probably still argue about religion (some things never change)
So, are you convinced that you can't control what other people think? No? Well, I can't control what you think. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Workplace Politics
- On Organizational Coups d'Etat
- If your boss is truly incompetent, or maybe even evil, organizing a coup d'etat might have crossed your mind. In most cases, it's wise to let it cross on through, all the way. Think of alternative ways out.
- Stalking the Elephant in the Room: Part II
- When everyone is thinking something that no one dares discuss, we say that there is "an elephant in the room." Free-ranging elephants are expensive and dangerous to both the organization and its people. Here's Part II of a catalog of indicators that elephants are about.
- The Deck Chairs of the Titanic: Strategy
- Much of what we call work is about as effective and relevant as rearranging the deck chairs of the Titanic. We continue our exploration of futile and irrelevant work, this time emphasizing behaviors related to strategy.
- Rapid-Fire Attacks
- Someone asks you a question. Within seconds of starting to reply, you're hit with another question, or a rejection of your reply. Abusively. The pattern repeats. And repeats again. And again. You're being attacked. What can you do?
- Why Others Do What They Do
- If you're human, you make mistakes. A particularly expensive kind of mistake is guessing incorrectly why others do what they do. Here are some of the ways we get this wrong.
See also Workplace Politics and Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming Issues of Point Lookout
- Coming February 4: Bottlenecks: Part I
- Some people take on so much work that they become "bottlenecks." The people around them repeatedly find themselves stuck, awaiting responses or decisions. Why does this happen and what are the costs? Available here and by RSS on February 4
- And on February 11: Bottlenecks: Part II
- When some people take on so much work that they become "bottlenecks," they expose the organization to risks. Managing those risks is a first step to ending the bottlenecking pattern. Available here and by RSS on February 11
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