Sunday, January 11, 2009

Social skills and politics

A friend recently finished 10 years serving as a representative in the Connecticut legislature, and shared with me her informal legislative memoirs. Looking back, she realizes that she would have made much more of an impact if she'd spent more time schmoozing.

My friend would be the first to admit that she's not particularly social or charismatic (or able to remember names and faces), and when she was first elected, and then repeatedly re-elected, what impressed me was how her intelligence, hard work, and conscientiousness kept trumping what many might read as aloofness.

But where more social savvy would have paid off was in the legislature itself, where a bill, no matter how sensible, practical, and important, would never see the light of day, or would be amended and gutted beyond recognition, or would come up for a vote only when time was about to run out--unless you knew when, and how, and to whom to cozy up.

And could live with yourself afterwards.

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