Dear Management Doctor:
One of my elected officials has invited me to go on an extended fishing trip with him and several developers on his houseboat. On one hand I think it could provide a good opportunity to build rapport. However, I am a little concerned the other elected officials may have a problem with the trip. Have you run into this kind of scenario in your past and do you have any thoughts?
A Concerned Planning Director
Building rapport is absolutely essential but I wouldn't do it this way. You may not only create a problem with the other elected officials, but some might also see a problem with the developers. If this were a lunch or perhaps even a three-hour trip I might weaken my response a bit, but your word "extended" bothers me. I'm reminded of a story Allan Jacobs, the renowned former Planning Director of San Francisco, has told. He was asked by Mayor Alioto to pose with him for a picture that was to be used in a campaign brochure. He refused but paid a price in his relations with the Mayor-but kept his integrity intact.
The Management Doctor
P.S. Be gracious and thankful in your turndown.