At my farewell party last night, I sat next to the marketing manager. He is Scottish with a great sense of humour, and he has a gorgeous smile, but well known for his capacity to talk shop passionately non-stop for hours on end. My last night with the company, and here I am. If it is my fate, so be it.
But I didn’t want to spend the night in misery, so I decided to pay attention and take interest in his talk, making comments and asking questions. Sure enough, talk started out with the subject of work, but through twists and turns, we were deep into discussion about Japan and its history of religion onto cause and effect of religion. I was quite surprised by his knowledge of religous history in Japan, his passion for learning and his strong desire in living true to his beliefs. He recommended Hirohito and the Making of Modern Day Japan and A Problem from Hell for me to read.
After the dinner, three peole whom I worked closely and I went to have coffee at a comfortable cafe nearby. They said sympathetically, boy, he was at it again, talking shop, wasn’t he? They looked surprised when I told them that we had a good discussion about culture and religion.
We work with people who are directly related to what we are doing. Although everything each member of a company does is related one way or other to everybody else, we are so busy trying to effectively perform our job. It is off hours, the time like last night that we end up sitting next to someone we are not entirely comfortable with for the dinner that we learn something new, something important about other people within the company. In a society like Japan where people working for a large organization live far away from where they work, and the content of work is so foreign to their family, it becomes a problem of allocating time for either colleagues or family. But as I experienced last night, buidling trust in workplace occurs at non-business hours, be it working overtime or having dinner together.