The Wedding Dress

My sister was married last weekend.

The only inconvenience on the wedding day was this. Our hotel room was makeup and hair curling central.  Which means that around 8 am we had to be out! In the end we returned three quarters of an hour before the ceremony.

My Sister

My Sister

 

I softly knocked on the room door and was asked in. There was my sister by herself. In her wedding dress. And this moment was probably  the only quiet one that she would have today. Hopefully we were not unwelcome. We weren’t!

But even to my untrained eye, the dress was her and she was the bride. And we couldn’t say anything. Just looked at each other waiting for someone to say something.

And yes somebody did ask to take her picture!

Getting the Introduction Right (Networking)

Introduction

Introduction (Photo credit: Larah McElroy)

Once I thought networking was all about introducing yourself. But after some contemplation, I realised it worked best for me when I introduced others. And got that right. And that took some doing.

The first time I got it wrong was when I had just met a beautiful girl at a dance. I introduced her to my friends name only and then walked away.
But I got it right at my 21st. With three groups of friends attending no-one knew anyone. I spent my night introducing everyone to anyone.  Later I heard that everyone said they had a good time. And later I found that new friendships were made that night. I didn’t know what I did.
Awkward conversation hearts

Awkward conversation hearts (Photo credit: ewige)

But it wasn’t until I was the regular recipient of bad introductions that I started to work out what to do. Often and frequently, I would be introduced to new people name only. The next few moments would be really awkward.
We would look at each other and decided who was speaking first. Normally I would ask an opening question and the conversation would begin. Oftentimes the conversation ceased.
I did know that when I introduced myself, I would ask questions and find a common thread to start a conversation. For example, at a party, “how do you know the birthday girl?”
Web 2.0 for Good - alcove conversation

Web 2.0 for Good – alcove conversation (Photo credit: robpurdie)

And then I got it right and worked out just how. This time, I was at a function. And I was with someone who didn’t know anyone and wanted to network. I had to get it right. So I would introduce my friend, name only. I would then describe my friend’s background. Then I would draw a connection between that and the person being introduced. Then I would be quiet. The next five minutes or so I listened and learned. And later on I realised just what I had done.
Now I know why. Now if I could go back in time and reintroduce myself to that beautiful girl…

Men Shopping with Women : The Unwritten Taboo

And I had my successes and mainly failures. But I learnt lots.
Especially about shoes. I now know good quality from bad. I know what does and doesn’t work fashion wise. And still stumble and fall.
But unwittingly I stumbled on a taboo subject.
Men don’t talk about this. They do talk about shopping with their partner.
And complain. But my response to that was too different.
“I help my partner choose shoes and dresses”.
For some reason, the three men I’m talking to step back slowly, carefully as if I’ve turned radioactive.
Next subject.

The Empathy Gene

Question MarkSeveral years ago, my three year old son asked me the question I will never forget. “Daddy, are you happy?”
And that time, my marriage had completely disintegrated. I wasn’t happy.
Almost silenced, I think I said yes.
But he knew I wasn’t happy. I mean how could he know? Why would he ever ask?  Did I father an empathetic child?
How could that be? I wasn’t an empathetic child.  I was rational and unemotional.
But even then there were times that I knew other people’s feelings. At least once, I gave advice and then was asked, “How did you know that?”. Another time I gave career advice and a bystander asked, “What did you just do?” A third time the person I spoke to ran away.
The funniest thing was when it happened I wasn’t surprised. It’s what I do. It keeps happening. Maybe I was always like that. Perhaps there really is an empathy gene.