One day before a meeting, I noticed a photo on a colleague’s wall. There were three beautiful young women in the photo, and I asked about them. They were my colleague’s daughters, and he told me their names and ages with a thoughtful smile on his face. I felt as if I had peeked into something special.
Having never considered this colleague outside the office, this took me by surprise. Suddenly, I realized that Mr. All-Business had a family and a life outside the company. (Duh.) He celebrated birthdays, checked out his daughters’ boyfriends, wondered what was for dinner, mowed the lawn, questioned decisions. He was 100% human, just like me.
That one photograph functioned as a window into another life. It reminded me that people are people, and that they are not solely defined by their titles or professions. They have good days and bad days. They have victories, celebrations, heartaches, and disappointments. They agonize, anticipate, worry, and wonder. They have hobbies. They laugh and cry. They pet their dogs and play catch with their kids.
Please don’t misunderstand. I had the highest regard for this colleague before my epiphany about his humanity; I had simply defined him by his position, and that occasionally left me intimidated. Now, I think about that photograph and I find myself on more common ground. It’s funny how the little things work.