The Bar of Gold Theory

For all those loyal readers of my old blog, I decided to bring back the Bar of Gold Theory, but this time with a slightly more positive twist aimed at improving the situation. Simply put, the infamous Bar of Gold Theory:

If a person starts handing free bars of gold to anyone who asks, someone will complain.

Again with the disclaimers/assumptions:

  • There is plenty of gold.
  • The value of gold does not decrease relative to its existing monetary value. No violence ensues due to a mad rush on the gold stand.
  • Each person only gets one bar of gold.
  • Forget any other silly notions; it’s a metaphorical situation equal to many other proverbs, so ‘bar of gold’ can be easily replaced with just about any perk.

Granted it’s a subtle twist on the old saying ‘you can’t please everyone’, but in this case those who are complaining have gained something they did not have before. So, the question as a leader or peer is how to deal with this circumstance. Here are some proposals in dealing with those smitten with this dilemma:

  1. Ask if the situation is better than it was before the reward. (Sometimes a simple reminder of one’s benefits can resuscitate the optimism within a person.)
  2. Ask for a detailed scenario in which the situation would be better. (Mentally working out problems can help some see what’s there.)
  3. Ask for an outline of changes potentially implemented by trading roles, often referred to as the ‘What would you do differently if you were in my shoes?’ question. (Similar in nature to #2, this allows venting to occur which can calm down a heated situation.)
  4. Last but most importantly not least, ask for the reward back, and be courageous enough to take it back, if it would help. (This is the defibrillator method meant to shock someone into realizing their gain by showing what an equal loss would be like. In extreme situations, the overall outcome may be better by removing the reward as it has no longer retained its benefactive effect.)
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