I spent the morning in a basement with a blue floor. I met two people who speak entirely in jargon. They’ve written a load of “behaviours” on a piece of paper. They want the words to ”resonate out through the acting.” They want it “the cheesier the better although the surveyors in asset and regen don’t like cheese so maybe not that cheesy.” “It’s about internal comms, raising awareness of behaviours, cross purpose communication issues.”
Making corporate theatre is hilarious. They were lovely, but it was like meeting two fish that had taken a load of courses on how to be people, and were being tested out in the real world. I wouldn’t want either of them to be my boss, even if I suspect they’re lovely at home. When they’re with their old friends, they’ll turn back into people. They were there, hiding somewhere under the fishiness. But they didn’t want to be seen. So they “did people.” while I wrote all their words down. Looking back over what they said, they didn’t really answer a single question. They didn’t really know what they wanted. Just something. We can do that.
Spending too much time in the wrong office environment can, I suspect, make you forget how to do the people thing. Particularly with strangers when at work. It seems they’re trained to conceal the truth of themselves under all these buzzwords and this signalling.
Which is why they want us to make a piece of theatre addressing what they call “unhelpful behaviours in staff members.” Coming from us hopefully it will be more palatable to the staff being trained. The alternative would be a dry PowerPoint lecture in a strip lit room, shuffling papers, checking watches, watching a talking fish read the words on a slide out loud, before clapping for exactly five seconds.
After the meeting this morning I caught up with an old friend. We had a string of cosmic coincidences. I haven’t seen him for years, but clearly I should have. We walked and talked until I ended up at The Factory rehearsal and on a whim said “Just walk in confidently and sit down for a bit. I bet nobody clocks it.” Alex clocked it within five seconds. “I don’t think we’ve met.” Still, he stayed for a bit and we got into nitty gritty about Malcolm. It was a room full of people who were attempting to express themselves in the best and clearest way possible. It was people being honest about the fact that they’re people, knowing that people are flawed. I liked being in that room much more than the one before.
I got thinking about these fish people that pay me to help teach them human behaviour. People who have trained themselves to conceal their own truth. People who are motivated partly by fear of their own humanity being seen. And I thought that I see that in one of the candidates for election. One of them is a fish, refusing to admit they’re a person. The other one very much a person, with warts and smelly bits, hoping to move forward despite people shouting “But you’re a person!” at him.
Recently we’ve seen that voting has an effect. We’ve had two surprises. A hundred years ago half the uk population couldn’t vote. Now we all can and half of us don’t. Let’s hope we have a big turnout tomorrow.