Last evening, my wife and I played host to some of the people my wife works with and their spouses. An informal get-together, it lasted from 6:30 p.m. until 10:15 p.m.
To describe the scene, the food available consisted of veggies, hot meatballs, and cheese puffs, a cookie tray, nachos and dips, grapes, cheeses and assorted cold cuts. We had beverages available, and invited guests to bring their own alcohol suiting their own taste. We made few changes to our household lay out, moving a harvest table out-of-the-way to make more room for mingling, and moved some chairs from around it to the living room so there was lots of seating. The house now decorated for Christmas minus the tree set a nice atmosphere and gave people things to talk about upon first arriving.
Now I’m not great at names, so when they arrived at the door in small groups, I went through my tricks to try to remember at least a few names. Denise and Ron I referred to as the DR. couple, taking the first letters of their names. And I repeated this process with others as they came in, only this time working things out in my mind instead of out loud. I also found that saying their names two or three times out loud as I spoke with them helped commit the names to memory.
Now the benefit of meeting these people is significant. First of all, they are important to my wife’s happiness at work, and so if she’s going to be coming home in the future and talking about the various people she works with, it’s nice to be able to picture the person she’s speaking of in my mind so I can better relate. So that helps me, and in turn, helps her because I’m more engaged while she’s speaking.
Of course what helps her too is that she’s been speaking of me to them, and now they have a visual to recall and refer to when my name comes up in conversation at work. While I didn’t feel I was under a microscope, I did want to make a favourable impression for her sake, just as the spouses of those with whom she works were making favourable impressions of their own.
It is often because as a spouse we are reflections of our partner that events like these are important to attend or hold. If you come across as friendly, likable, funny and positive, then by association others will see what your spouse saw in you when you got together. Be brooding, aloof, uncomfortable or rude, and the co-workers of your spouse might feel sorry for your spouse, even go so far as to wonder about things like why you remain together or possibly suspect an abusive partner. Who knows?
And of course there is the networking. One fellow who was there it turns out, owns his own tree farm, and we’ve dealt with his staff and purchased products from him in the past without knowing him at the time. It gave us a common topic to speak to, and in talking about his business, he immediately swelled with pride and was receptive to conversation. And eventually the conversation turned to me and what I do for a living. Then I got a chance to talk to someone who was genuinely engaged and interested at that point in me.
Now imagine I was looking for work. Imagine I was possibly interested in transferring, or was just open to hearing about other opportunities I hadn’t considered. Imagine that because of my ability to engage others, my social and interpersonal skills, my passion when speaking about what I do and my interest in others, that possibly – just possibly – someone keeps me in mind and three weeks from now perhaps contacts me to discuss a job offer. Wouldn’t that be cool.
But it’s also just a nice thing to do for your spouse isn’t it? I mean a chance to welcome her co-workers into her home, meet her husband, see where she lives, how she decorated the home, etc. It’s bound to make her feel good about how things have gone, feel happy how things are and be in a positive mood.
There are of course some spouses that dread having to interact with people they don’t know. And if they are in your own home, there’s no place to hide away, and you can’t leave early if you’re uncomfortable because it’s your home. It’s one night however, and if you plan it right, think of it as just a couple of hours. One fellow I know of isn’t entirely comfortable having many people in his own home but does it because it’s one of his wife’s wishes. So having some musical skills on the piano, he entertains by playing songs. Usually three people with sit them with him and sing along while others mingle and engage in their own conversations. Whatever works.
Whether you are celebrating Christmas or any other holiday throughout the year, opening up your home to those your spouse works with is not only a nice thing to do, but can give you a chance to practice and improve on your interpersonal and networking skills; the same skills you demonstrate in a job interview. Something to think about…