February 27, 2022
One of my old bosses, a brilliant mind and a mentor of mine, once introduced me to a powerful concept of Go EAT.
This literally meant Get Off Email And Talk.
Operating in a complex corporate environment with multiple coteries, people in the senior and middle management layers in the organization were constantly squabbling- about how things needed to be done.
Most of the conflict was engaged through the medium of Emails. People, particularly in leadership roles, would spend enormous time engaging in conflict through the mechanism of elaborate email messages. Somehow, everyone felt that by writing long drawn mails, they made their position clear for the other side to comprehend and acknowledge.
Unfortunately, nothing ever got resolved. Instead, the other side would bunker down and spend time figuring out point-by-point rebuttals that would again be put out as an email for the other side to consider. And so this would continue, back and forth with people getting added to CC mailing lists as if it was the bounden duty of everyone marked on the emails to take time out to read all that was being put out to make sense of what both parties were saying.
Consequently, this created a culture where key leaders behaved like email warriors, with nothing ever getting resolved. Issues would fester, and there was an air of distrust all around.
To break the hold of this debilitating organizational culture, my boss introduced the idea of GO EAT. Whenever he would come across an instance of someone sending out an email on any issue that was better handled through a face-to-face conversation, he would simply message GO EAT. This catchy Anagram served as a trigger for people to stop engaging in email battles and instead speak and resolve issues.
Everyone runs from conflict because it makes them feel bad. So they look for passive-aggressive ways to engage in conflict leading to distrust and lack of bonding. Actually, conflicts are an unavoidable element in any relationship. They are an opportunity for appreciating different perspectives and making deep personal connections.
Some of my closest friends are folks I have had many challenging and aggressive conversations with, sometimes bordering on getting personal. However, my friends and I agree that the conflicts played their part in cementing the sense of mutual trust and respect.
Avoiding conflict means avoiding the opportunity to build a trusting relationship with someone. So, the next time you find yourself in a conflict with someone and find yourself wanting to shoot off an email, restrain yourself and GO EAT.