A People Person

I am always really touched when total strangers show an interest in Joshua and his story and two did yesterday : I was working in London yesterday afternoon and I met a new client, we had communicated by email before and had spoken on the telephone but had never met. We met in a cafe , for my project briefing, and I learned quite a lot about her life and her family situation through facts that she volunteered as well as due to questions that I asked. She is a french lady , who married an Englishman, and they have a grown up daughter who now lives and works in London. We both are professional market researchers and so we are both expert at asking questions to find out key information and soon she was asking me too about my family situation…

I told her about Joshua, she already knew about his epilepsy as I had had to move a telephone call once when I had to dash to his rescue, but she expertly found out about his medical history and how that impacts on his daily life. She was skilled as I found myself opening up to her and she did the same to me; telling me how she might be looking for a career change and how her daughter had asked to finish her education in the UK, when she was just 15 and she left her parents living in France while she came here to study. It is a key skill to appear to be interested , without seeming to be too nosey, and that is something that after 25+ years of asking questions professionally, that we both had in common.

But after our work we shared a taxi to the station, she jumped out en route to head off a different direction and I carried on to Kings Cross. So the taxi driver and I began chatting, generally at first about navigating around and driving in London. I explained that I knew the walk from Kings Cross to Great Ormond Street well from all of the appointments with Joshua. He was also  a proficient poser of questions and he asked about his surgery and whether or not it had been successful. We had quite a chat on the way to the station and as I alighted, he wished my son all the very best in the future.

I was made emotional by this stranger’s interest and kindness. I will never see him again but he took some time out of his day to find out more about our lives and he actually listened too – many people ask because they feel that they should, but they do not really listen to the response . It struck me, for the first time, that taxi drivers and market researchers have something in common, they are both people businesses and you probably have to like people in order to be good at the job. While he can be a decent driver without chatting to his customers, and some people might prefer that, I cannot do my job well without liking people and wanting to find out more from them.

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