Being human: A magnet for some people
Why do some people become more inclined to talk to a particular person than someone else? I don't know the science of it completely but I hope the reader can help me to understand this a bit better.
You see, I have become a magnet for some people. Young and old. They see me, they want to talk to me. They meet me in my room, they see me in the corridor or I may be in the canteen having a meal. And they want to know what I think or they just want a listening ear. Why am I usually that person that they go to? This got me thinking and as the years roll by I see myself performing this particular role on a more frequent basis.
I gather from the conversations in my organisation that some people do not have many people that they can talk to. This is probably true in other organisations all over the world. Some of my colleagues are from foreign countries. They are here in the country for a while to earn a living and being foreigners it may be difficult to strike a friendship with the locals. They are older than most locals in the organisation and have more experience at work. Although they appear to get along well with most locals the conversations appear to touch on superficial topics. But no deeper than that. When they come to me, they talk about almost anything under the sun. Politics and human resource management issues appear to be the most favorite topics. And I begin to wonder that maybe for locals these are taboo topics, and for foreigners these may be topics they do not want to broach in the open. And yet they discuss these with me.
"Vincent, there's a group of students who don't seem to work well together. They've got this group project. One of them is rather stubborn and wants to have his own way. What can I do?" After a short discussion at the corridor, my colleague had this idea that the students really ought to solve the problem amongst themselves as they will more likely than not encounter such issue at work in the future. That seemed like an eureka moment for her - that she could not possibly solve every single problem in the classroom and that perhaps the best strategy is to get the students to think for themselves how they could work it out in an amicable manner. This teacher came to me as I had been working with her, observing and commenting on her lessons. What struck me was that she learnt a lot from me, from the ideas and the discussions we had together. So maybe this is no surprise to me. You would approach someone that understands your problem, your context and if that person has been giving ideas that work, then the likelihood of further collaboration is enhanced.
There are others who when they enter my room appear to want to talk. Their faces seem to suggest that there have been a lot of goings on their lives and they want to talk about it. Sometimes I allow them to, even when I didn't feel like listening to them. I ask if all is ok and that is usually the prompt for the floodgates to open. "Is it ok I talk to you for a while?" "Sure," I replied, knowing that a 'no' would sound most devastating in their hour of need. "How can I help you?" That is when I realise that people open up when people listen to them, not judging them, not saying anything about their condition but merely empathising with what is going on. Often I ask myself what is my role and what is the plan for me in my organisation. Is this what I am supposed to do? If this is what I am going to do although in an informal capacity and if this is making a positive difference in the lives of people who need it, then I guess it is not such a bad thing. It is what makes us human.
What is your experience? Is there a particular person that you would normally go to for advice and help? Do others come to you for advice and help? Thank you for reading and commenting.