5 May 2016

Vodafone ruined my golf game

A while ago Vodafone’s poor customer service really got to me. The details aren’t relevant here but the litany of tedious business process built-to-solve-the-wrong-problem-really-well piled frustration onto frustration until boom! I “lost it”.

It got me absolutely nowhere at the time but the compounding issue was the secondary effect. Late into the afternoon I performed poorly and my long suffering golf coach (one of the most patient people on the planet) watched me play like a muppet for ninety minutes until the end of our lesson together. Waste of time and waste of money.

My first mistake was to get angry (although understandable) but the second BIGGER mistake was that I allowed the after-shock to ruin my golf game. A strong emotion leaked from one part of life into another. It was powerful, seamless and totally counter-productive.

Imagine the same mechanism playing out in your work place.  

The first inference is obvious. Along with the extremely low likelihood of a positive outcome there is the increased chance that precious working relationships can be damaged and respect lost. Secondly however, if you “lose-it” at work, there’s a good chance you’ll take it home with you to those who matter more –partner, children, friends.


Prolonged anger is toxic, it decimates personal performance and the after effects sit around for longer than you think. It’s called an “emotional hijack” and explained quite eloquently in Daniel Goleman’s book: “Emotional Intelligence. Why it can matter more than IQ.”

It turns out that the physical affect of emotional hijack is the production of the hormones that fuel the flight-or-fight response. The largely overlooked fact is that this stuff hangs around in you for another 4 hours or so. This is what happened to me.

Despite having calmed my immediate emotional state, I still carried physical anger with me to the golf course. I couldn’t focus, I had trouble deciding how to play my next shot and struggled to swing the club properly. Double whammy: loss of emotional control plus extended loss of performance.

Fortunately, playing golf badly doesn’t exactly threaten World peace but good use of emotional intelligence helps avoid self-defeating behaviours like this along with the unintended consequences.

Here are 5 practical steps that help manage any emotion before it gets out of hand:

  1. Whether its anger, anxiety, fear or disappointment, learn to spot an escalating emotion early and STOP.
  2. Breath and count to 10 (just like your Mum used to tell you).
  3. This gives you room to change to a more productive behaviour. It works, trust me.
  4. Review what happened and reflect. Keeping an emotional intelligence diary helps.
  5. Practice spotting the signs earlier and earlier. This is a key emotional intelligence skill and repetition is the route to making a new process into a habit.

At Thomas Green we coach individuals to recognise any strong emotion and how it affects their behaviour. We convert effective emotional intelligence techniques into day-to-day skills though our Talent_AMP programs and the outcome is improved personal performance.

Remember we’re only human and whilst this one got away I get it right most of the time. I also know that getting upset on the golf-course doesn’t help your score (thanks Andy @ Studley Wood GC).

To find out more about our Amplification Programs and how it can help your business, contact us here.

Mark Carrington

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