Get to know people.. They might surprise you

I was reading an article recently where Jon Hamm of Mad Men fame was being interviewed. He talked about his high school, and one of the remarkable things that they did. Every lunch time, every day as a student you were assigned seats. Each day a different seat, each day sat next to a different person. So for that hour, you made an effort to speak to someone different. The jocks, the prom queens, the geeks and those perceived as different were all mixed together away from cliques. You had the opportunity to chat to people beyond your clique, to strike up a friendship with people you may not consider being friends with. How marvellous I say!
I am blessed with wonderful friends and I thrive on meeting interesting people. I don’t care where you are from, what you look like, or what you do for a living, but do we connect can we chat, can we laugh. Isn’t that the essence of human interaction!

I’ve had wonderful conversations with strangers from the taxi drivers who diverge from football talk and open up to me about their marriages and fears for their kids. To the person on the train reminiscing to a time where things seemed simpler and kinder. It’s always good to listen, to put your ego and thoughts aside and truly absorb what someone is saying. In this rich tapestry of life it truly pays to listen.

In 2010 I was in Phoenix, Arizona (not Texas as I put on Facebook at the time) to see one of my besties Craig perform the lead in the musical Nine. We arrived at the theatre early and Craig went off backstage and I had an hour to kill, so grabbed a glass of wine and read a book. 2 mins later I found myself chatting to a woman in her 80s and her friend a man in his late 70s. They were Diana and Bill. Diana had lost her husband two weeks earlier and this was her first social outing since then. As we sipped Pinot Grigio I found out so much about her marriage and life and was struck by her beautiful spirit, strength and sense of purpose. It inspired me. Bill had been a flight attendent and we chatted about classic broadway shows, he’d seen Judy, Merman the lot. He’d lead a wonderful life tinged with sadness at losing a true love in the 1960s to a closeted marriage and never fully embracing his sexuality until he felt “it was too late”. These two people in that short space of time profoundly touched me. So much so after the show I wanted to find them, introduce them to Craig and get their addresses to write to them. Alas at the end of the show I couldn’t find them, but I was touched by their candour and their kindness and their true sense of knowing exactly who they are.

In a world where we can communicate in so many different ways. Nothing is more effective than just sitting down and listening to someone. Everyone has a story to tell, be a listener! You’ll be surprised you’ll really learn something.