Way back during Kindergarten days (or possibly during college — it’s been quite a while either way), there was one notation on the report cards that often went overlooked. When report cards were issued to my classmates and me, everyone, especially our parents, would focus only on the grades. “Oh good, you got an ‘A’ in Finger Painting,” a mom would say. “Hey, how come you only got a ‘C-plus’ in Beginner’s Napping?” a dad would ask. (Still could be either Kindergarten or college. Have you seen some of the frivolous classes that universities offer these days?!)
Anyway, on those Kindergarten report cards, there usually was an area for the teacher’s comments. There were two different comments that were much more important than all the academic grades combined. The two comments were: “Plays well with others,” or, “Does not play well with others.”
If you want to get an idea of how successful a child will be later in life, don’t look at his or her Kindergarten grades in Finger Painting, Beginner’s Napping, or Calculus II. Just look to see if the teacher’s comment is “Plays well with others,” or “Does not play well with others.”
In the real world — that is, the world where people have to interact with other people every day in the workplace — having intellectual skills is very useful. But having social skills is crucial.
Unfortunately, there are many people in society today who got straight A’s in all their classes, but who possess the social skills of an eggplant. (No, I’m sorry. That’s not fair to eggplants, which are admittedly not often the life of the party, but which also never blurt out to a co-worker for no apparent reason, “How can you be so stupid — and FAT?!”)
I suspect the 4.0 GPA anti-social guys, the kind of people we all have encountered in various work environments over the years, were given plenty of “Does not play well with others” comments on their Kindergarten report cards.
By the way, if you can’t think of a single social blunderbuss with whom you’ve ever worked, then chances are YOU are the one who does not play well with others.
No matter how talented and skillful a person might be, if he has such an annoying, confrontational personality that he makes his fellow co-workers daydream about various ways to dispose of the body without getting caught, it is not a good situation for the organization.
When companies need to hire a new employee, there usually is an extensive evaluation process, which includes a review of the applicant’s educational achievements, prior work experience, and even a criminal background check. This time-consuming and expensive endeavor could be streamlined greatly if the Human Resources department simply tracked down the applicant’s Kindergarten report card.
If there is the comment, “Plays well with others,” then hire the person immediately. But if there is a “Does not play well with others” comment, then call Security and have him or her escorted out of the building.
During a recent family gathering, I mentioned this theory. My mom made quick eye-contact with my siblings, and then turned to me and said, “Well, it’s probably not THAT important.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Oh nothing,” she said. “After all, you turned out, um, OK.”
“Hey, what are you saying?” I said. “Did I get a ‘Does not play well’ comment on my Kindergarten report card?”
“Don’t worry,” she offered. “You always got A’s in Finger Painting, and after some private tutoring, you improved your grade in Beginner’s Napping.”
Then she patted the back of my hand, and said sweetly, “Who needs friends, anyway? We’re all still proud of you.”