A recent email conversation with a friend, Tom, made me think about a fact of life that has some unfortunate consequences. As adults in the working world, we typically relate to each other on a single dimension, that of work. Whatever the work relationship, co-workers, client/consultant, or otherwise, our interactions are narrow in comparison to one’s entire life. I know co-workers socialize, but I’m thinking how common it is to be uni-dimensional, not multi-dimensional, in our relationships as adults. Perhaps we are too busy to take the time to get beyond the surface of that working or professional relationship. But, when we do, finding common interests is not that uncommon. As “kids” in school, relationships, play dates, and shared experiences bond many people to one another, for life. But, it seems that once past high school, college, military service, or some other tight knit situations, bonding with others is much less likely. As Tom said, “It’s nice to have connections that aren’t strictly work-related (like, for example, when I met you and Melissa). The older I get, the harder it is to make connections like that.” I agree. And I think one’s life is much richer when it is possible to get beyond those strictly work related connections. Further, I think it is the absence of seeing people as multi-dimensional that can lead to conflict. Knowing a little, or a lot, about someone with whom one works and interacts humanizes the relationship. There is more room for trust and mutual exchanges. In a uni-directional relationship, it is easier to ignore, “blow off” or otherwise interact in a rude fashion. We’ve had a few clients who seem to operate that way (and who probably have few friends) and those working relationships are unpleasant. Taking time to get to know those with whom you work, in whatever arrangement, can bring the rewards of shared humanity. Being self absorbed, well not so much!
Luckily for me, I have always made friends in every kind of situation. David’s friend, Tom, is an attorney at a large law firm, but neither David or I knew this when we met him while sitting next to each other at a RUSH concert. David and I also met another, prominent and high profile, attorney backstage at a different RUSH concert. At the time we met this latter attorney, Dave, we had no idea he is a “big shot.” We merely thought we were meeting a huge RUSH fan. Since then, David and I have socialized with Dave on numerous occasions, spending far more time talking about our shared RUSH fandom than his work as an attorney or our work as trial consultants. Seeing people in situations where they are not dressed in their work “costumes” is an eye opener for me. When none of us are dressed in our fancy business suits, but instead, a t-shirt bearing the name of our favorite rock band, it reveals a tighter bond than would be present within the narrow context of work. Writing this takes me back to a time, long ago, when I was working out of town with an attorney on one of his big cases. He required me to stay at the same hotel where he and his staff were staying, to maximize our time together prior to selecting a jury. I arrived earlier than everyone else (that should be no surprise to anyone who knows me!) and to pass the time while waiting on my client to arrive, I read the latest issue of “Rolling Stone” magazine while sitting in the hotel lobby. (As an aside, I have a lifetime subscription to “Rolling Stone.” It will expire when I do!) I was engrossed in the article I was reading and when I looked up, my client was standing in front of me with an astonished look on his face. He said, “I can’t believe it. Dr. Pigott, the renowned jury consultant, is sitting here reading ‘Rolling Stone.’ I would never have guessed you are an old hippie.” I laughingly reminded him of something I tell all of my clients: Don’t judge people by the way they dress when they come to the courthouse. There’s more to most people than meets the eye and getting to know people outside the narrow confines of a work setting can be lots of fun.