Don’t Clap

I was sitting in my companies quarterly wrap up meeting yesterday. The procedure is standard. People give presentations. They highlight something the firm has achieved. Then everyone claps. Me included. The atmosphere is good and the company culture is strong. Still, something’s wrong.

One of the presentations was a bar graph of our revenue over time. The presenter talked about how we had our highest monthly and quarterly revenue ever. Everyone clapped. The bar graph had no axis or labels. It was literally just one bar higher than another. I felt that I was doing something wrong.

Clapping puts you in a mood. So does cheering or chanting. Your behaviour affects your thoughts just as your thoughts affect your behaviour. By engaging in collective behaviour that makes you feel like part of a group, you become part of the group. By engaging in positive behaviour, your mental state becomes more positive. Both of these states make you less able to think, to see reality and spot bullshit.

I’ve always tried to avoid loosing myself in groups, to stay away from collective madness and control my own thoughts. I suggest you try doing the same. Most people feel an incredible pressure to confirm and be liked. If you reject that instinct, you become far more free and far more effective.

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