Needy is Creepy

A few weeks ago I went to the local retail store of my mobile phone service provider (No names…but it might rhyme with Hey Bee & Bee) to provision my new iPhone which I had bought to replace my broken iPhone 8.

When I arrived, a young man eagerly greeted me – I will call him Bob. Bob asked how he could help – and I told him I would like to set up my new phone. He agreed to help – but I noticed that he wasn’t too enthusiastic about it. In fact, he didn’t seem too excited about working with me until he realized he might be able to sell me something.

In fact, his first comment to me was to tell me that I could set the phone up myself. (Wut? You’re not willing to help me?) I saw that little push-back trick – so I pressed him to see if he would do it for me.

Reluctantly, Bob went to work on switching out sim cards and setting up the phone. The whole time he was doing that, though he very distracted – he was quizzing me about my current phone plan, did I need more than one phone for my business?, and – here’s the big one: what internet was I using at home?

When I told him I used a competing home internet provider he perked right up. And then came the big pitch. You’ve heard it before…Question after question. “What if…” after “what if…” This was his entire operating plan from that point on.

My frustration and dissatisfaction grew. But he never saw it. He was never aware of it. He was so stuck in his needs – his neediness to make the sale – that he missed the signals that he was losing a customer.

Moments after I politely suggested that I was not interested in his offers– and how about we stay on the task at hand to get my new phone up and running, he decided he had “helped” me enough and walked over to a new customer who had walked into the store. (Hmmm…ok)

(I had to enlist the help of the store manager who discovered that Bob had initiated my phone setup incorrectly by putting the wrong sim card in my new device.)

I don’t know what Bob’s incentives are to land an internet customer, but I surmise it must be very significant. I have seen this kind of behavior at this store in the past. On multiple occasions. And what I have noticed is that this dynamic (the incentive, I mean) seems to take the associates on the floor out of their game.

They might focus on the “small-ball” game of making a sale, but they lose perspective on the bigger game they could be playing   – to serve customers in important ways, build relationships, create customers for life – and instead they focus on the short term win for them.

Too bad really. But the lesson I think for all of us can be found in what a mentor and coach of mine  (Steve Chandler…author of a great little book called Fearless) likes to say: Needy is creepy.

By this, he means that when we operate from our neediness – our need to “win” the sale, or to win on the course, this neediness can get in the way of us being at our best – and in fact, can come off as a little weird. A little creepy even.

Bob was getting creepy on me, man! It was clear that the only thing he wanted was to put some cash in his pockets at my expense. It was clear he didn’t care about me. He only cared about what was in my wallet.

(BTW…I’m not anti-salesperson. I have been in sales my entire career. But the evidence I have seen  – and experienced – informs me that the most successful selling interactions occur when both parties feel the value inherent in the transaction. That was lost on Bob.)

It may seem like a stretch – but I believe that the same performance issues are at play when we get needy on the golf course. The reason is that when we play the game of golf from a neediness orientation, our brain’s primitive threat response can more likely be triggered when things don’t go our way – or are even when things just MIGHT not go our way.

When we golf from a sense of neediness it is as if we are maintaining a tight grip on our story about what SHOULD happen This creates worry and anxiety…and ultimately pressure and tension – and finally, an inability to perform at our best.  (Check out Sian Beilock’s book: Choke)

Operating from neediness also prevents us from being present and in the moment. It prevents us from being able to be alert and indifferent on the course– two amazingly powerful operating stances which allow us to stay connected to our full potential in any moment.

Let’s face it…a grown adult smashing his club on the ground and swearing out loud after a less-than-perfect shot is a little weird. It’s a little creepy.

So, don’t be like Bob at the phone store. Don’t be so needy on the course.

Stop and smell the roses a bit. Drop your attachment to your outcomes. Engage in meaningful ways with your playing partners. Build a relationship or two. You will have a more enriching experience. And your scores may even go down!

Have a great week!



Paul Monahan

Paul Monahan

Paul Monahan is an International Coach Federation (ICF) - credentialed coach working in the arena of human potential. Paul’s clients are leaders, executives, athletes and musicians who are serious about transforming how they perform in critical moments. His experiences in leadership and development over a highly-successful 25-year corporate career have created powerful context and understanding for the leaders and executives he coaches. Additionally, his passions and experiences in sports and music have uniquely positioned Paul to profoundly impact his clients in those areas as well.

5 thoughts to “Needy is Creepy”

  1. Thanks Paul. Your recent article about putting helped me improve my putting. I now take a practice swing and then go. My friends all noticed the improvement. As far as cell phone stores, we just had a horrible experience with a competitor of your cell phone service. They pay these kids $11 an hour and, maybe, $10 for a sale. It doesn’t really give them an incentive to build long term relationships. I’m guessing that they really don’t get a lot of training. Besides low pay and meager sales incentives, my guess is that there is absolutely no way for them to get more money by helping customers. Maybe you should forward your article to the corporate executives. Thanks again.

  2. Guilty
    When I review my round later after I have finished, I have learned not to focus so much on what I have done incorrectly from bad shots, but how did I react those bad shots. It’s not always good. My best rounds have always been from staying focused on the shot at hand. Not the previous shot.
    Great story. Thanks for the artical.

    1. Thanks for the comment Dave! Seems like you have a very good post-round strategy – and one that provides some solid insights for you. I like it!

  3. The 3′ putt.
    I have found it gets much more difficult in tournament conditions, compared to a casual practice round with my wife.
    It simply means too much in my mind and the tense stroke enters in.
    It’s a work in progress.

    1. I believe your diagnosis is spot-on, Jack. We tend to give more meaning to those puts…and the overthinking causes tension. And tension causes mis-hits. Consider that learning to play freely and without tension can come when you hold a different THOUGHT…like: “I LOVE these putts – and I can’t wait to roll this into the hole!”

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