Sunday, February 3, 2013

Humanising Business Relationships

There is something about the world of business that dehumanises relationships. The other is seen usually as a competitor to be trampled, or a boss to be hated, or a subordinate to be kicked or a peer to be beaten. We often gripe at everybody and anybody around the water cooler/coffee machine/whatever. Office parties are largely gossip sessions where everybody trashes everybody.
I met her not so very long ago. She is a confident, consummate professional, very competent in her job. She is poised, articulate, easy to work with and with a ready smile. So it was easy to picture the typical upwardly mobile, confident business executive and deal with her exactly in that manner.
Quite by accident, I came to know of the tragedies she had been, and is, going  through.  Tragedies you would not wish on your worst enemy. But you could never ever guess from any of the professional interactions. She is, as I said, poised, articulate, easy to work with. But now that I know, I can relate to the small things, I should have noticed before, but didn't. Yes, she was, and is,  bearing it all with a courage I can only marvel at.
People who go through difficulties and tragedies have a remarkably different view of the business world. They are far more tolerant. They are not easily tempted by greed, jealously, impatience and anger - vices that are in small or large measure, endemic in corporate life.  They take victory with equanimity and defeat with grace. They seem to have an altogether different view of the world - a more mature and wiser view, if I dare suggest.
Those of us who are crushed by petty office defeats or exhilarated by a pyrrhic promotion would do well to pause and reflect. Does any of this matter in the larger scheme of things ? Why have we let our lives, and even our very being, be defined by the necessary, but mundane, goings on in the office. In ten years time, or even five, would anybody care ? 
This post is a plea to view others we come into contact in the business world as human beings. There is a human heart beating with emotions, with hopes, with sorrows,  and with all those cauldron of feelings that define us as a race. That is not Employee No XX Or Supplier YY we are talking to. That's a member of the homo sapiens species. They may have had a great day. Maybe they are at the peak of joy. Or maybe they are troubled. Maybe there is sorrow being borne.  Whatever; it would do us good to try and understand. Maybe just be that little bit kinder.
Meanwhile, I am rooting for the lady to win. Win with a capital W. But then she defines "winning" differently. I should really be rooting for her to win in the truly important things in life, and "win" where , and how, she would want to.

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