I don’t have much in common with the person who cuts my hair. We have obvious differences in age, experience, background, and work (I’m a technology marketer and she is a hair stylist).
But as with all humans who look different at first glance, there’s something deeper that ties us together: business.
Yesterday I had the chance to chat with her about her experiences managing several barbershop locations and teams. Despite all those differences, we connected about this. I’ve been working long enough (and managing for a short time) to know a bit about what makes a smooth-functioning work culture. So we talked about that.
We were both shaking our heads at bad employee attitudes and nodding our heads about the things that make teams work well. She explained to me the challenges of seasonal difficulties and inconsistent business – something which can affect businesses like the one my father owns. She seemed happy to find someone who could understand the challenges she faces as a manager. I was happy because for me talking about business is what talking about sports is for other people.
What I wish more people would understand is how their business and their work ties them together with almost all of the people around them.
Business problems and business joys may take on different faces in different businesses, but under the skin, they are all the same. If you can realize that, you can celebrate the successes and commiserate in the challenges of anyone else busy creating value – which is just about everyone. If you ask the right questions and know your own work, you can instantly connect with someone who knows theirs. In a world that feels really big and anonymous, you can find common ground.
We have an opportunity to relate to all of our customers and all of our vendors as colleagues as well as buyers and sellers. If there is a trust problem between individuals and businesses, this might be one of the most powerful ways to solve it. And this approach can create a level of collegiality that can only make the world better.