I'm not sure if it's a gift or a curse, but a LOT of people share a LOT of their experiences with me. (I'm pretty sure it's a gift, even if some the "wrapping paper", i.e. people's lived experiences and the trauma inherent in them, is kind of awful.)
It happens in forums like LinkedIn or Facebook, of course. I actively invite those conversations, and while listening to people's stories about workplace shenanigans often fills me with empathy, concern, and sometimes even compassion-based rage on behalf of the people I chat with, I love those human connection opportunities. I wish I could claim we solve all the ills of the world in a series of LinkedIn convos or follow-on zooms or coffee chats. We don't. We do lessen the pain that comes from feeling adrift in the Sea of Insanity which is the modern world, and there is something to be said for that.
I also find myself in these kinds of conversations while waiting in line at the grocery store, or while perusing a new book at the local library, or at the coffee shop or business networking mixer.... Partly, I'm from a family of people who other people, for whatever reason, instinctively dive deep in conversation. My dad has been known to get somebody's entire life story while shopping for new socks. It's a wild gift... lol. And partly it's because, I admit, I am (as a rule) genuinely in love with my fellow humans and I have an inextinguishable curiosity about other folks and their lives. And again, we don't (usually) "fix" anything... although... maybe we do...
And then, of course, in both my day job AND my consulting work, I quite literally get paid to talk to people about why they hate their jobs and what we might do about it. Again, transactional solutions to SOME of the challenges may not happen as often as I'd like, but there is magic happening in those spaces.
I spend a lot of time sipping coffee and processing ALL those conversations, looking for nuggets of hope, truth, paths that might lead to better future experiences for people in general, AND specific folks who are top of mind in any given moment... I have almost limitless thoughts as a result of these conversations.
One consistent, foundational truth is we are lonely.
We are lonely at work, we are lonely in life. We might live or work in great, loud, lively spaces... or we might not. And that has zilch to do with how lonely we are. We all desperately need more human connection. That simply needs to happen. And this is why I'm sure it's a gift to be allowed those conversations, no matter how long or short or difficult they are.
And... in the professional realm, the rift between leaders and "the led" is growing exponentially. It's as if trust is a seismic rift, and it's NOT dormant; quite the opposite, that rift is expanding like crazy. And the bridges we've used in the past? Well... they don't feel super stable, trustworthy, or even safe. So we head into the uncertainty on super shaky footing from the beginning. Not splendid.
I often say in moments of great frustration, "Whose mom has to die for this to get fixed?!" And that's not just dramatic hyperbole. The truth is, while I know we're all going to die eventually, the insane and incessant stress we're all experiencing IS leading, right now at this moment, to really bad outcomes. Yoga, meditation, and long runs on the beach are bandaids. We need to completely overhaul the Ways We Work. And this is where it feels like a curse - I see possibility, and I have to wait for it to get SO BAD that people decide the uncertainty of change is less painful than the current mess. And wow, humans are super successful when it comes to suffering.
Maybe we could wait just a little less time, however. Do we really need so much trauma? Can't we just do better now and limit the amount of scar tissue we need to deal with? That feels like a way better approach. (...and for the bean counters... a cheaper one, too)