How to Warm up a Cold Soul
I was 23 years old and just starting work at my first “real” job after graduating with my MBA from the University of Ottawa. I was hired to fill the position of Marketing Manager at a document management software company in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
The truth is, I was absolutely clueless about both marketing and document management and was not exactly sure how I landed the job.
On my first day, I met Judy. She was the receptionist – the first person I encountered when I walked through the doors. She was a tall, thin woman from the island of Jamaica and in her early 50’s. She did not smile, she did not make eye contact and she did not do small talk.
Judy was a no-nonsense woman who made it clear that her only reason for being there was to get her job done and take home a paycheck. Within 30 seconds of our meeting, it was clear that Judy was as warm as an ice cream truck.
At first, I was slightly taken aback by her cold and distant demeanour, but the next morning when I walked in, I made an extra special effort to bounce into the office with a huge smile and a cheerful, “Hi Judy! How are you today?!”
I did that every single day – until Judy started to thaw out.
Eventually, I started asking her about her life and family in Jamaica. I asked her about her kids and her move to Canada. I asked her about Jamaican food and inquired about her favourite dish. I slowly started to find a way to connect with Judy.
One day, about 6 months after my start date, Judy came to my office and said, “Don’t go out for lunch today – I made you lunch.”
I was flabbergasted. “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU MADE ME LUNCH?!”
“I made you jerk chicken, and ackee and saltfish, and peas and rice.”
Holy cow! I felt like the skies had opened up and blessed me with the most incredible gift. It was not the gift of food, but rather the gift of the connection that I made with Judy.
She went from ice cold to flaming hot in a matter of a few short months.
How did that happen?
It happened because I decided that I would not let Judy’s initial disposition throw me off.
I decided that no matter how stern or sour she appeared, I would be stoic and cheerful.
I decided to be the anchor in the relationship.
She could be grumpy if she wanted to, but I would not join her on that path. Instead, I would set a new tone and stick with it no matter what. I infected her and she rewarded me for it.
This is just a single example, but it’s one that is foundational for all relationships.
There is a commonly held myth in the world that it takes two to tango – this ideology could not be further from the truth.
It just takes one person who decides with absolute conviction to set the tone and stick with it.
It takes one person who decides to see past the misery of the other and look for the brighter, deeper side.
It takes one person who decides to be the anchor in the relationship and not be flustered by the other person’s negative behaviour.
Here are a few important questions for you to consider: are you creating what you want in your relationships or are you allowing yourself to be influenced by someone else’s not-so-stellar behaviour? Are you the anchor or are you being anchored?
If your relationships are not exactly where you’d like them to be, it’s a good idea to think about the role you play in the dynamic. I encourage you to explore this further, and a good place to start is by taking the time to answer some vital questions in our Frame of Mind Coaching Assessment. This will provide you with the opportunity to think about your relationships and how you show up.