You Can’t Play Chess With a Pigeon

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You can’t play chess with a pigeon.

“You can’t play chess with pigeons” is how one of my WINners once summarised the situation working for a manager who took increasingly strange decisions regarding his team and business in general.

He’s cray-cray, is what she was saying.

It’s become a mantra ever since, and I repeat it whenever I encounter a woman who is dealing with a similar type of boss.

These pigeons don’t just appear in low-level management roles by the way. Often you can find them in the highest ranks of leadership. It’s a surprisingly common phenomenon, which I guess can only be explained by the Peter Principle of people being promoted to their respective level of incompetency.

Anyhoo, back to our pigeons.

You know what pigeons do when you try and play chess with them?  Apologies for the visual, but sh*t on the chess board, is what they do. Or they fly away altogether, unable or unwilling to engage in any kind of game / conversation.

The point is: you cannot have a reasoned and reasonable conversation with someone who is committed to their lalala-fantasy-truth.

There’s just no point.

You bring common sense, you bring logic, you bring reason… and they just sh*t on it.

So I you have identified that you are working for a pigeon, my advice is not to try and play chess with them. Truly. It won’t get you anywhere. If anything, the pigeon will make you believe YOU are the crazy one…

Instead, invest your energy into finding a better, equal chess-partner for your career conversations. Either internally – going around or jumping over your pigeon, or externally – find out where you are needed and wanted that has a more productive and successful work environment.

In short: find yourself a boss who is an actual human being and who is happy to engage in constructive dialogue.

If you want my help – shout.


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