Being there.
Published: December 5, 2023

Not for the first time a few threads have recently woven themselves together to inspire me to write this post.

The first involved a conversation with a client. When I asked how she was doing, her reply was; “not great I’m afraid”. She then went on to explain that she was facing a “perfect storm” of both personal and work related challenges. What really caught my attention was how isolated she felt; until we spoke.

The second was a conversation I had with my daughter. She told me about a friend of hers who had, during a recent catch-up, apologised over and over again for not being in touch. This apparently made her a “rubbish friend”; a conviction that my daughter’s attempts to convince her otherwise failed to dent.

The third thread emerged from the 27th March episode of High Performance Podcast hosted by Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes which featured an interview with Keir Starmer. At this point I should probably emphasise, as Jake Humphrey did at the start of the podcast, that my interest was not in his politics but in him as a person. When Keir Starmer was asked what he most valued in people, one of his top three was “being there”. He then explained that he wasn’t bothered by how often someone was in touch. What mattered to him was whether they would “be there” when he really needed them.

You might be wondering what the connection is here? Well, all of these threads are about that concept of “being there”. My client had needed someone to “be there” for her but no one was. And, finally my daughter doesn’t value her friend because she’s constantly in touch, she values her because she’d be there for her if needed.

So, what’s this post really about? If we can accept that people being there for us makes a real difference to our wellbeing, this raises important questions – particularly in our work settings:
– How willing are we to ask for help when we’re feeling isolated at work?
– How good are we at recognising when we ought to ask for help?
– Who would be there for us if we did?
– Who among your colleagues might be feeling isolated right now?
– Do we see it as part of our role at work to “be there” for them if they are?
– How would we know if they needed us to be there?
– How confident do we feel about our ability to help?

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