Though it’s not every person’s “cup of tea”, I have been enjoying going back into London for business meetings. For me there is nothing like sitting down in front of someone, trying to understand what they want from me and what I expect of them. Personal, human interaction is how I really work, not on some blasted zoom call!
Of course, the downside of doing face-to-face meetings is the hassle and expense of public transport and the inevitable hanging around at train and tube stations. But while in transit to and from the capital you see so many people and you witness their range of expressions and emotions. All I can say is after the last two years we have all had, many people are tired. It is not uncommon for me to see men and women literally with their heads in their hands.
And now the tough and honest part. I used to spend a lot of time with my head in my hands in the mid ‘noughties’ as my relationship with my business partner, my company and my mental health fell apart. The daily slog of going into my office, putting on a brave face and ignoring my feelings and “brushing things under the carpet” was, at times, unbearable.
That said, over 15 years later, I can fully admit that I was very much part of the problem. I didn’t always follow the rules, rules that I expected my staff to follow. Everyone enjoyed the way I pulled great ideas out of nowhere and then galvanised a team to implement them. Unfortunately for everyone else the office, my ability to organise the required administration and structure for such a campaign was often not up to scratch and the inevitable clashes with staff, suppliers and my business partner increased in frequency. I would only communicate on my terms, and I would not compromise on certain aspects of the management of the business.
Eventually the whole thing went bang, I left, and the company soon closed. For the next three years I struggled to rebuild myself. Eventually, my mental and general health began to improve because I started opening up to people, both friends and mental health professionals. Perhaps most importantly I started to listen to people around me and only respond when they had had their say. I could still disagree with them, but they were much happier knowing that I had actually engaged and listened. As a result, my responses we’re far more measured, credible and collaborative.
I think it is obvious that relationships can take hard work to keep on the straight and narrow. On the flip side, I think it can be quite easy to be difficult and obstinate. But that in turn can eventually eat lead you down some dark paths.
The simple process of opening a dialogue with a person that you value in both your business and personal life is one of the best things you can do. Be honest, be brave and take the first step. Eventually I did just that and things just started to fall back in to place.