I had never met the two managers before our arranged meeting. I did not have any information on them. Their backgrounds were blank. Their skills remained undiscovered. Everything about them was new.
As we talked about their areas of responsibility, it felt as if we had met somewhere, sometime. They knew their work. As they talked of the details, the pieces most missed they captured. They had gotten on with the jobs. While the teams had made good progress, they were open for more.
As our conversation progressed, my curiosity grew. Were they trying to flatter me to achieve an end? Could their words be a gateway to an agenda? I know how easy it is to get lost on the line between flattery and building connections.
I have often wondered how others react to complements. On one occasion, “Paul said, ‘I count myself fortunate to be defending myself before you, Governor, knowing how fair-minded you’ve been in judging us all these years.’” (Acts 24.11) How did the Governor respond? Did he assume it was a complement? Did the words have any impact on his view of the situation?
As I began to probe, one turned to me and said, “I was so excited when I heard you had joined the company”.
“I knew of you before I came”.
As the details of a mutual former company emerged, I struggled to remember their faces and names.
“What years were you with the company?”
The answer told me that we had never met. I had left the year before.
Their words to build a bridge took on a fresh perspective. These were believers in the mantras of working hard while being smart. They were passionate about their roles in the company. They believed they could make a difference. From the evidence I could see, they were and are driving good change.
Our conversations intensified as we moved into what might be. Our table was filled with new ideas. We discussed them without fear. Our diverse perspectives made us richer. Opportunities are within reach our reach.