Can you believe it? It’s been about a month since COVID-19 got real for us here in the PNW. In that time, we’ve seen a lot of things happen. Some of them have been special and others have been really frustrating, confusing and challenging.

For those of us who are PGA professionals who operate, manage, coach, engage and are basically “doin’ work” (an homage to Kobe there), it’s the things we can’t solve or fix that wear us down. Whether we leverage it or not, we are “connectors” and community managers at the “golf parks and villages” where we work and where we play the role of “Mayor” or “Governor” for those who love the game like we do. In this last month, we have all been forced to play the role of “connector” differently or, in some cases, we’ve not been able to play the role at all.

Sure, we have been able to be part of Google Meet video calls, chats, town halls and maybe even some “happy hours.” These are better than no contact at all, but the sheer number of them for everyone (from business people, to students and everything in between) is taking its toll on us. Apparently, there’s a reason for this. Gianpiero Petriglieri, a management professor at INSEAD (A Worldwide Business School), summed up how we feel after a while in these digital connection opportunities:

“I spoke to an old therapist friend today and finally understood why everyone’s so exhausted after the video calls.  It’s the plausible deniability of each other’s absence. Our minds tricked into the idea of being together when our bodies feel we’re not.  Dissonance is exhausting.”

That really resonates with me  – you’re exhausted, but your body feels like it hasn’t earned the right to be so tired. Same for me, your neighbors across the street and the person 6 feet away from you.

Yes, this “social distancing” thing is designed to protect us (and evidence shows that it does), but it’s hard on our mental health. Being able to shake on a deal or high five on a win are so much more than just human touch. These gestures are the ways we bond, the ways we build trust and rapport and the ways we encourage one another.

With that in mind, here are some tips on digital communication:

  1. Do have patience when reading someone’s email, text, FB post, etc. If it irks you, creates anxiety or some other emotion, it is better to wait it out (like until tomorrow) before responding. Even better, choose a video chat to talk face-to-face when you’ve settled yourself. At this point, you’ll be able to better articulate your thoughts, rather than just your immediate reactions.
  2. Do “emotionally proofread” your messages. With the lack of non-verbal cues, tone can easily be misinterpreted and messages can seem passive-aggressive in tone. Read your draft through the other person’s eyes before sending.
  3. Do be aware that punctuation marks add tone. Here’s an example. Consider “Okay.” Vs “Okay” (without a period). They may not seem that different, but experts say the period can be read as an “and that’s final” kind of tone.
  4. Do have empathy. Others are feeling anxious about the same things we are, and maybe even have it “worse than us.” Maybe they’re unsure of where their next paycheck is coming from, or if they’re going to have a job once this is over.

As a final thought, I’ve really appreciated the recent Chapter Town Halls hosted by Sean Fredrickson, Jeff Ellison and Doug Doxsie ‒ and I really appreciate the opportunity to be on them too. Though I would like to be able to connect in person with each attendee, the connection on video is still better than nothing at all.

If I could sum up one thought I’ve been sharing on each of these Town Halls, it would be this – “We’re All in This Together.” The key in that phrase is together. We are peers, part of a PGA family and in these times where anxiety and frustration are at newly found highs, we might be tempted to “should on each other” in a way that is not fair, or at least lacks judgment.

Members, customers or friends might come to us and say, “I just heard that XYZ Golf Course is doing this or that, and that is wrong, or that is reckless or not proper,” etc. If you have a concern about how your neighboring facility is operating within the “appropriate guidelines”, please BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR and take the time to go directly to the golf professional who is leading the operation. Instead of focusing on being right, let us decide in advance that we will: 1) Call them, 2) ensure they know that we care and then 3) ask them about what they’re doing in that situation and 4) get the details and the context for why they’ve chosen to do it that way.

Let’s pray this thing ends sooner than we all expect and that we can once again be the Mayors, Governors or whatever “connector” you like being referred to in your PGA role. In the meantime, if you’re dealing with any issues related to your career, your income or you’re looking for an opportunity to grow in your career, please know that I’m here to assist you.

 

Monte Koch, PGA Certified Professional/Player Development | Career Consultant
PGA Career Services | PGA of America
Serving PGA professionals, employers in the Pacific NW & Rocky Mountain PGA Sections
Email: Mkoch@pgahq.com Cell: 206/335-5260