I effected behavior change with my communication, and I’m tellin’ everybody!

I know I’m supposed to be writing incisive pre-analysis of President Obama’s big speech Thursday, but …

Saturday morning at Joe Louis golf course on the South Side of Chicago, I watched an aging yuppie in the group ahead of me hit a sand shot on the fourth hole, and then simply traipse out of the bunker, shamble onto the green and putt his ball.

Apparently he’d given not a thought to raking the trap, even though (I discovered) there was a little green sign six feet away from the scene of this egregious crime of omission that said, “Rake Sand Traps.”

In that deliciously absolute outrage one can only summon over the most trivial matters, I walked to within shouting distance of the man, and told him:

“Hey man, you’ve got to rake sand traps.”


“Yeah, you just played out of that sand trap and didn’t rake it. You’ve got to rake them.”

“Yeah, thanks for the tip.”

“Just do it,” I said in a tone that did not shake from anger, but stood perfectly still, against the flat buttress of utter righteousness. And then, as he stalked off, I placidly raked his footprints myself.

Then, but for an occasional smug smile at my own perfect self-actualization, I forgot about the matter and sank into what Updike called the “joy and aggravation” of golf.

Until the 15th hole, when I looked up from the fairway and saw my man … wait for it, strategic communicators who claim your work effects behavior change … carefully raking the green-side sand trap.

In communication, usually the bear eats you.

In the rare instance when it’s the other way around, you should savor every bite. —DM

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