It’s a Game for Consenting Adults

Many years ago, when I was still in the world of advertising, the organisation I was with was going through some major changes and I had a sense that they didn’t bode well for me. So I embarked on a strategic review of the marketplace, using a technique known as Scenario Planning, to demonstrate to the board that I had what it took to be part of the business as it transformed.

Because of my position I had access to some of the biggest names in the industry and I was excited and gratified when they agreed to meet me when I’d explained what I was doing.

One of the conversations still stands out in my mind. It was with a lady who had rocked the advertising world and was a true legend. As we sat talking and I asked my carefully considered questions she leant forward, smiling.

“Dene, what you’ve got to remember is, it’s a game for consenting adults!”

In that one sentence she cut through all the bull and nailed the issue. The business was a game. I needed to know the rules and I needed to have a bunch of people who wanted to play the game with me.

As things turned out it was me who decided that I didn’t want to play the game anymore and I got out.

Which brings me to yesterday. I was on a client call discussing a difficult situation, which my client was having to deal with, regarding a colleague of hers. He was sending out widely distributed emails complaining about her and her department and not unreasonably this was upsetting to her.

As the conversation went on it appeared to me that my client was very attached to the pain and the hurt that this man was causing. Not that she was enjoying it, far from it; but she couldn’t let it go.

As we talked the words of my advertising guru came to mind “it’s a game for consenting adults” and almost simultaneously a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”

As I tried to explain to my client that she was in a consenting relationship with this man her eyes widened; as she realised she could just as easily withdraw her consent.

As we discussed more, the discussion broadened to other areas.

No one can make you feel angry.

No one can make you feel sad.

No one can make you feel happy.

These are all choices you make in relation to the situation and the people you are with.

I love calls like yesterday because when we finished my client went off full of beans and ready to take on the world, on her terms.

So who are you consenting with today? And how are you consenting to be with them?

Remember; it’s a game.

Are you playing the game you want to play, with the people you want to play with and to the rules you’re willing to consent to.

Dean Stuart's SignatureDene Stuart
Chief Thinking Officer


Dene is a qualified practitioner in Personality Profiling and Emotional Intelligence and has delivered training in these areas to hundreds of people in one to one coaching programmes, workshops and talks to business groups and students. He has twenty years experience in high pressure senior corporate roles and has started, developed and closed several businesses. He has enjoyed significant success, and has come through personal and business failure.