Connecting with people

The train slowed to a dead stop. Through the window I could make out the leaves of trackside bushes, illuminated by the carriage lights. Hmm, I thought, not a good sign.

Sure enough, after ten minutes of waiting on a deserted stretch of track, the guard thought it fit to announce to the packed train what was happening, or rather, what wasn’t happening. We were waiting for a signal to change. Okay, I thought, nothing major there and I turned my attention to my family once more.

We were heading home on an evening train from London after a visit to the Natural History Museum. It was Sunday and the children had school the next day.

After half an hour of the train not moving the guard made another announcement that some power lines had come down across the track further up the line and that essentially there was grid lock for all the interconnecting lines. We were stuck in a queue. With that announcement, people started to get out their mobile phones and ring their loved ones to inform them that their train had been delayed. We were close enough to one man to hear him inform his wife in a matter of fact voice to add half an hour before she met him at the station.

After an hour, frustration was beginning to set in. You could see everyone recalculating their plans for what remained of the evening, us included. My wife shuffling the itinerary of food, baths and bedtimes. Tension was building in the carriage.

After two hours, denial had moved onto anger and it was apparent that everyone’s plans for the evening were ruined.

After three hours, the carefully constructed polite facade that everyone erects around themselves started to crumble and what was revealed was the essential human being inside each of us. The overall helplessness of our situation meant that we started to take control of what we could – the situation inside our carriage – and people started to talk to each other with the camaraderie of a testing shared experience. We talked to the man who’s wife was supposed to pick him up at the station. He told us good humouredly that he had abandoned that plan altogether and was now trying to organise a taxi with the help of the train guard.

After four hours, a kind of Stockholm Syndrome kicked in; everyone’s facade was down and it was understood that you could talk to anyone with an unguarded directness. The occupants of the carriage had let go of their ‘timelines’ and realised that they could only live in the ‘now’. The experience is remarkable as anyone will testify who has endured such an experience (imagine the bonds created in a life threatening situation). Towards the end of our delay it was almost fun. Why do we have to wait for a disruption of some kind before we assume responsibility for ourselves and take off our suits of pretense?

Sometimes, we don’t have to wait. At a public event I met a representative of a large organisation that is influential in the region. I suggested she might find my SatNav for the Soul® presentation useful. She gave me her card. All ’suit’ stuff. After trying to contact her, various gatekeepers passed onto me an email address of someone else in the organisation who might be able to help. More ’suit’ stuff.

I was about to type a typical ’suit’ email to this person when I thought, ‘what the hell, this presentation is far too important to be be stitched up in a suit’. I duly sent this person an email that might have been composed after a four hour wait on a train that doesn’t move. He would either get it, or he wouldn’t.

Here is his reply;

Thanks for your e-mail. I’ve had a look at your website …and I’m sufficiently intrigued to invite you to come in for a coffee and chat.As a bit of background my role is that of Organisational Development Manager – impressive hey? Actually, that means I can shove my nose into anything I want to in the organisation. My boss encourages me to be creative – but as a 60-year old, wasp – no actually the p should be a c or rc which makes wasc or wasrc which doesn’t quite work?

Anyway, sorry to bumble on – your website has put me in that frame of mind – not the bumbling but the getting outside of the usual niceties and formalities and onto what’s really relevant. I continue to ramble…

So –send us two or three dates and times convenient to you and we’ll agree when to meet. Probably best if that coincides with some other business you have in the area so I don’t feel too guilty about the costs you’ll incur in getting here and giving up your time. I used to be a ‘consultant’ in personal productivity – time management and the like – so I know time is money – or wasted opportunity! I’ve never sent an e-mail like this before – I think your website has liberated my mind already!

As T indicates we have no money – so no promises. But happy to consider providing a platform for someone who might just get some in the organisation to think a little differently?

One Response to “Connecting with people”

  1. Jesus Alirez says:

    Iˇ¦ll right away snatch your rss feed as I can’t in finding your e-mail subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly allow me know so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

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