Five years ago, I had a phone call that changed my life.
I was working as a negotiator and had an Applicant on the phone to me, stating that they were on a ledge and ready to jump. They were vulnerable, they were scared, they were experiencing financial difficulty, and felt helpless.
While I followed internal protocols to ensure that emergency services found their way to the Applicant, I also took the time to calmly have a conversation with them while they felt like they didn’t belong amongst the masses that could cope with a world of uncertainty and, as they described, a world of ‘false hope’.
By way of background, this Applicant was in financial difficulty and I was negotiating between the Applicant and a bank. There was a dispute in their contract, and the lack of communication between the parties had become overwhelmingly obvious.
This dispute came down to the misunderstanding of one word. And, as a consequence, someone was on a ledge- ready to jump.
A single word was about to lead to a death. It’s not extreme. This was reality.
While I am a lover of words, and the strength that they hold in business as well as the therapy they bring when the ink hits a blank page, this phone call opened my eyes to the importance of embracing a sense of community in day-to-day tasks. The conversation that I had with the Applicant began at ‘I’m about to jump!’ and ended with ‘I think I’ll have roast beef for dinner’.
But that final sentence could have been far worse if the time wasn’t taken to allow the Applicant to deeply and emotionally tell their story.
All the words in between ‘jump’ and ‘roast beef’ are lost to me, but the feelings that arose during those moments will always remain.
It is this phone call that encourages me every day to ensure that the people I work with, and for, feel as though we are all part of one family. Connected through life’s ups and downs as we face them; independently together. And this is the value that I build my business on, because it is a sense of belonging and the concept of community that does not vary across seas or borders, boundaries or fences.
I could argue forever that the concept of community, of which I founded Written Communications on, is what allows me to develop and maintain trust with my clients. But, when it comes down to it; it’s more than a mutual understanding of trust and authenticity. It’s so much deeper than that.
It’s the moment that you stand up and realise that if you were to fall down, there’d be someone there to hold out their hand… and offer you coffee while pulling you back up.
It’s the moment that you look to your left and see a smaller human mimicking your actions, as they learn to take on the world.
It’s the moment where we realise that although we may feel stranded, or lost, that we are all feeling stranded and lost together- and we are mutually trying to survive.
We’re all in it, together.
We’re all lost, together.
And, as Anne Lamott says, we’re all just helping each other find a way home.
Transitioning from solely ‘transactional’ relationships, to those that are based on community, belonging and encouragement has allowed me to develop and maintain strong relationships with people who are looking to be guided to the front door… or asking for a hand as they step off the ledge.
It is the driving force behind my marketing campaigns, my business collaborations and my decision when hiring subcontractors. And, yes, it has positively impacted the bottom line as I have seen an increase in profit while I have adopted this approach to business.
Community; it’s your golden ticket, your key to the city, and the answer to all your extremely important questions.