Cool Hand Luke and Communicating

Cool Hand Luke and Communicating

by Jim Toes

If stranded on a deserted island with only one movie to watch, Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman would undoubtedly be on my short list. Earlier this week, George Kennedy who received an Oscar for best supporting actor is his role as Dragline passed away at the age of 91. Upon hearing this I naturally retreated onto YouTube and played the more memorable scenes and lines that are forever burned into the minds of anyone who has seen the movie.

Now while I have never worked for a boss who hit me nor do I own blackjack billy club, there have been times when I have experienced such non-Dale Carnegie like communication skills as either the source or recipient.

The poker game -“sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand”, ditch digging scene -“I got my mind right, boss” or the rainy day in the bunks when a bored Luke just looking for something to do claims -“I can eat 50 eggs in one hour”. But the most memorable scene is the one with Captain played by Strother Martin who after having chains put on Luke for his failed escape attempt hits him over the head with a blackjack billy club and then goes on to justify his actions by proclaiming, “what we’ve got here is failure to communicate”.

Now while I have never worked for a boss who hit me nor do I own blackjack billy club, there have been times when I have experienced such non-Dale Carnegie like communication skills as either the source or recipient. I do confess that I have a little bit of Captain in me. I’m not proud of it for a host of reasons and rarely, upon reflection did I conclude that yelling and stomping on a person’s rebellious will was the most effective way to resolve the problem which I was addressing.

We all come across people like Luke in our life, individuals who know how to press our buttons, who question our directions and disagree often, sometimes just for the sake of doing so. Such individuals present unique challenges but their uniqueness adds value the overall team if allowed to contribute. So the next time you find yourself in the presence of a Luke, ask yourself, do I really want to play the part of Captain?

On behalf of the STA Board we wish you a safe and happy weekend.