There were two elderly women sitting near me during lunch at Whole Foods today talking in an upbeat, spirited way about this and that. We were outside. Between the almost perfect weather and their amazing attitude, it felt great to share this moment with them.
Mostly they talked about the soup that one of them was making tonight.
It must have been a lot of soup because at some point during the discussion, one exclaimed, “You’re going to have leftovers!” Her friend nodded and smiled, something almost imperceptible crossed her face. Something about her eyes were far away for a moment. This comment, which I would never in a million years have thought to say let alone put an exclamation mark upon, clearly left an impact.
Maybe she was thinking about saving some money on future meals. Maybe she was imagining having not just one experience with this epic soup but more. Maybe it was just a feeling of abundance. It was a fleeting thought, but seemed to connect.
It was such a factual, technical comment about leftovers, yet it somehow demonstrated so much empathy and landed so well. Magical.
Actually it’s not magic. It’s totally within your capability here at work. You have it within you to make these kinds of comments, to build relationships through these small things, even in our technical field. You just need to commit to being there with people.
If leftover soup can a put sparkle in an old woman’s eye, your observant comment about a team member’s pull requests can make an impact too.
In fact, I’d argue these tiny comments are far more valuable than some big, coordinated offsite or manufactured “happy hour” ever can be. And they don’t cost a dime.