How did the Chocolate Angel found her wings...
Working in IT is certainly the job in which you meet many people in a face 2 face moment, right ;-)
Not really, or let's say often only virtually. At least not if you have a job with global outreach, your office is in Düsseldorf (Germany), the headquarter is in Espoo (Finland), your closest work colleague is based in Sydney (Australia) and your internal customers are working in every other part of the world.
As much as I was typically glued to my laptop, every possibility I had to interact with people f2f, I enjoyed to the fullest. Over the years I was able to travel to many locations, always making the most out of the fact that I could meet people, taking time at the location. Especially if you work remotely, the ability to travel and really go to the desk of a colleague or customer, talking to them, listening to them, 'reading' their body language in a conversation, or for a change just to make them smile!
I remember one particular moment, another trip to Finland and I walked to the office of two managers I worked closely with. They immediately started talking to me about an ongoing issue, I never heard about it before, 'cause unless I visited them in person, they kind of 'forgot' that I was out there in Germany, just one chat/email away to help them as I was in charge of this area. That was almost 10 years ago.
So I used every possibility along the way to cross the virtual working boundaries to meet people in person. One of the habits born from this necessity involved sweet treats and approaching every person I could reach in an office. To be used while travelling, we once carried several kilos of Fazer chocolate around the world, we spoke at different locations about 'dry' IT process related topics, so we wanted to sweeten up the topic. During stressful times, walking just couple of minutes in our headquarter offering everyone I met a smile and a sweet treat. Oh my, the reactions were amazing, smiles, laughter or "You saved my day" - puff, all stress gone or just to get a quick & healthy break from work.
One day, I approached a member of our IT leadership team with a sweet offer, she reacted, oh, the Chocolate Angel is here! The name stayed with me every since, I spread my wings to fly. Out there to inspire & unlock the human and positive side of working.
Photo credit: Rahul Pardasani
Small moments can make all the difference...
meeting new people and exchanging ideas can lead to great insights. A few days ago I met Kaj, we agreed beforehand to meet for a coffee in Helsinki. Our first potential encounter was a conference in Turku where I offered participants to meet the Chocolate Angel for a boost of positive energy. That was quite welcomed from everyone as those were two amazing days outside in chilling temperatures just above zero degrees.
Our discussion touched Artificial Intelligence and the challenging question whether robots could act as Chocolate Angels in the future. We both left with new ideas & thoughts. Afterwards he shared this book excerpt, it resonates strongly with me. Especially with my experience over time that the moment of surprise, when you meet the Chocolate Angel offers the most value to the recipient. The moment of first encounter, the offer of attention, recognition and positive energy.
The acceptance of the offered sweet is a beautiful addition to the smile which appears naturally.
--Emily Esfahani Smith, the Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters
"While close relationships are critical for living a meaningful life, they are not the only important social bonds we need to cultivate. Psychologists have also discovered the value of small moments of intimacy. "High quality connections" as one researcher calls them, are positive, short-term interactions between two people, like when a couple holds hands on a walk or when two strangers have an empathetic conversation on a plane. We can sometimes be distracted or aloof when we're with another person, but during a high quality connection, each person is tuned in to the other and both reciprocate positive regard and care. As a result, both people feel valued. High quality connections play a role, of course, in making our close relationships with friends or romantic partners meaningful--but they also have the potential to unlock meaning in our interactions with aquaintances, colleagues, and strangers"
Photo credit: Rahul Pardasani