There are two activities I go to for team GTKEO (get to know each other).
The Meeting Introductions Tool is one I learned from Manager Tools, and works quite well for lighter events.
My newest, and favorite, go-to is Patrick Lencioni’s Family Histories Exercise.
There are just three questions:
- Where did you grow up?
- How many siblings did you have and what’s your birth order?
- What’s one unique challenge or event from your childhood?
You can learn a lot from this non-threatening exercise, and it’s usually pretty light, but I heard one story from a client recently that brought me to tears when I heard it, and then brought my family and I to tears when I shared it again at dinner.
I will share it with you now, and tell it as best I can remember, from their point of view.
When I was a toddler, I was severely burned. This burning left scarring on my chest, back, and shoulders, and I was self-conscious about it. So, growing up, I was never shirtless in public for any reason, if I could help it.
Once, when I was 15, I was in the middle of getting dressed, and the UPS guy came to the door. Without thinking much of it, I answered the door. Shirtless. The UPS guy looked me up and down, and I was uncomfortable right away, ready to grab the package and shut the door.
But then, he spoke. Gently. He said “Will you please tell me what happened to you?” So, I told him. And then, his eyes filled up. Like he was about to cry. He said:
“Thank you. My kid – the same thing just happened to him. At the same age. And we’ve been scared – wondering if his life was going to be okay. If he was going to be okay. And now I see you, and I know. He’s going to be alright. Thank you.”
And then,”Here’s your package.” And he walked really fast back to his truck.
And that’s when I finally realized – I was going to be okay. I was okay. From that day on, I knew.
And that’s a unique thing that happened in my childhood that changed my life.
What do I take from this story?
Sometimes, it’s better to take a chance and connect with others instead of just minding my own business.
What do you take?
Happy New Year to you – in 2016, remember that every interaction with others will make their day a bit (or a lot) worse, or a bit (or a lot) better. Use that power well.