People Are Always Watching

Aug. 21, 2010

Image. It’s more than what you wear. It’s more than what you say. It’s more than what you do. It’s more than what you prove.

It’s more than aspiration or ancestry or attitude.

Every single thing you do immediately contributes to your image. Even the mistakes. Especially the mistakes. Think about it: Why do tabloid magazines exist? Inquiring minds want to see people screw up.

“Mom, have you ever noticed that, when you see a really nice person doing something bad, like smoking, it changes the way you look at him or her?”

This, from my prince, as we sat in the spa near the pool today, and he saw a lady he’d always been fond of, smoking. This past year he studied extensively about the effects of smoking, so it happens to be a sensitive subject for him.

For all you smokers out there, don’t worry, I’m not accosting you. I’m not donning my white wig. But J’s question did lead to an interesting conversation.

Mid-flight on a recent business trip to Las Vegas, I read an article in Entrepreneur about the best bars in which to do business. It surprised me a little bit. It’s no secret that many business deals take place over drinks, but the article made me think of all the times I’ve witnessed coworkers use bad judgment at corporate events. Again, I’m not claiming to be a saint. But it is true that what you choose to do in private often has no place when representing a company.

I shared a recent story with J about poor choices, and he said, “Mom, when I get older and my friends are partying and making bad choices, I am not going to join them. I want to be the standard bearer.”

I was very honest with him and said: “J, everyone makes bad choices at some point. I don’t know what you’ll do or who you’ll be or what challenges you’ll face as you get older, but I pray you continue to make good choices. I hope you stay the guy you are. I hope you’ll be responsible with your choices.”

I told J the same thing I recently told a good friend of mine: “People will make fun of you outwardly because you don’t participate, but they’ll respect you inwardly. People are always watching.”

What do you think about conducting business over drinks? Have you had success with it?

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6 thoughts on “People Are Always Watching

  1. Tyler Reed says:

    Drinking does not equate to making a bad choice. Just like the saying is not “Money is the root of all evil” but rather “The love of money is the root of all evil,” alcohol itself does not create bad behavior. It’s the abuse of alcohol in a business situation that can be unfortunate.

    Drinking or hanging out in a bar makes the conversation more social and gets people out of the boardroom. My best conversations with higher-ups have been in bars where the titles mean less than the socializing. And it’s easier to do business with people you know and like than people you’ve never had a conversation with.

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  2. Radler says:

    Indeed people are always watching, my whole theory on the drinking with co-workers includes the desire to fill one’s arsenal with damaging stories or photos or videos for future leverage. You could call it building relationships; but really it’s a bit of a pissing contest to see who can drink more, who buys more rounds, who’s the the “most fun” etc.

    Hmm, and escaping the boardroom for a drink. Socializing with co-workers is not always the best business practice. Now socializing with friends is quite different. I personally DO NOT AT ALL see the need to drink amongst co-workers. Inhibitions may go down, but lines often do get crossed. Now, if you need to schmooze over alcohol to get ahead; well then quite possibly you are living in LA.

    Regardless, to drink or not to drink should be up to you. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a little wine, or beer, or even a Margarita now and then; when I want it. Pressuring co-workers to see what they drink, how they drink, what happens when they drink is total BS. And in my opinion makes whoever the pusher is look LAME! Participation – whatever, if everyone was poking their eyes out with scissors would you do it. Well maybe, cause everyone’s doing it. Thanks Melissa!

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  3. Mom says:

    Melissa, you asked me a question. Yes, is the answer. You do tend to think differently of a person when you see them doing something you think they shouldn’t be doing. Whether to get them help, or whatever. And as far as drinking in meetings, I feel it is totally wrong. I have not been in corporate meetings, but in organization meetings and drinking came after decisions were made.

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