For quite sometime now have been thinking about writing this, but till a particular incident really fires it in, I guess I am too lazy to put it all down for All to see.
Last Friday, as I went in to the restroom to take a leak, I realised that one of the honchos of HR, was in the stall right next to mine. Being a slave of the "Compulsive Greeting Disorder", I struck up a conversation with him, while we were both answering to nature's call.
What transpired in the next minute or so, inspired me to start this blog. I know, some people will not take this seriously, and well, I think they should not either. These are my views, and its more than sufficient, that I think they are important.
The Need :
I have always, acutely felt the absence of the "Big Boys Club" around me. Having gone to an obscure school with an even more obscure Alumni, a mediocre college with "Do-I-Know-You" ex-classmates, there has always been a distinct absence of a group of people with whom I could share a special bond. And so, the "Leaking Lads Club" germinated.
Anyone who has been a part of not-so-significant institutions forever, could try forming this network, and benefit from it. Especially when some irritating IITian, or Xavarian tries to gain favours from his Alumni, you can effectively use your "Leaking Lads" network to negate the unfair advantage.
Existing Issue :
What surprised me most of all, was the fact that the Best BSchools in my country are so unaware of the advatages of this network ring. It was apparent from the reaction of the gentleman I have mentioned in this article, when I tried to strike a conversation with him, that he was SO totally unprepared and caught off his guard. I guess, this stems from the fact that most people do not see the opportunities involved in this. We are so caught up with the conventional ways of networking with people, that we are just not willing to give some other, maverick ways of doing things, a fighting chance. Once we can succesfully overcome these inhibitions in our mind, I am sure we will see the benefits of Restroom Networking, more clearly.
Inherent Strengths :
One of the reasons I believe this is going to be the Next Big Corporate Activity Center (a feat that Golf Greens have achieved) is because of the ease and accessibilty of Restroom Networking.
(a) No particular expertise is needed to be there,
(b) All class barriers are broken and overcome, and people tend to temporarily put down their guard, while in the Toilet,
(c) Moreover, as people are not really concentrating VERY hard on what they are doing, the comfort level involved in talking to others will be higher,
(d) And Unlike Golf, this is INEXPENSIVE,
How to Go About It :
The first and foremost thing involved here is the ATTITUDE. Most people DO NOT think about talking, looking around, listening to others, smiling, when they are busy peeing. More often than not, they tend to look right down, prefering to see something that they have probably seen a Hundred Million times, to looking around some!!! The whole idea of treating a restroom as a place where you should go to pee, has to be replaced with the idea of A Relaxation Center, instead. A place you go to relax, unwind, meet other people, chat...
Don't be afraid to flash a smile to the guy next to you. A smile tends to break barriers like nothing else can. People tend to get more receptive, and "listen" to you, rather than just blow you off. (No pun intended)
Get comfortable with the whole idea of talking. Its generally not very pleasant to verbally communicate with your fellow beings, in a dirty, stinking washroom. But I am sure that you all will agree that the spanking clean, sanitized washrooms that we see at most commercial complexes remove this problem from our consideration.
I have observed over the years, that people who talk to themselves, find it easier to talk to others as well. So, it may not be a bad idea to start talking to That Man In The Mirror, when your out there, alone. It might so happen, that at the very moment that you decide to relieve yourself, there is no one around, to network with. But do not lose hope. This is a perfect opportunity for you to brush up your skills some. Look straight up ahead at the mirror, and rattle off.
One very Important thing to remember here would be to avoid as much body movement, as possible. People who use their hands a lot (like the unfortunate, Yours Truly), who cannot stand still while expressing themselves, who sway all the way from Hell to Heaven and back; when talking to a fellow mate, stand a grave risk of creating an embarassingly prominent wet patch of warm fluids on their trousers.
Choose your "Networking" partner, well. Not all the people you meet like to be spoken to. Infact some idiots feel threatened at the prospect of being caught off their guard, when away from the comfort of their desks. Use your inherent, God given common sense here, and you should be doing fine. For those immensely fortunate souls, who are not burdened with the unnecessary load of Common Sense, keen observation of the facial expressions of your Networking Buddy, should serve as a good enough indicator.
As far as possible, refrain from speaking about topics like food, family, that new car or house. Most folks do not like these. Safe options like weather and sports are good for the beginner. Slowly, move on to work related gossip, bitching about bosses (All time favourite), and fault finding with your Employer (Universally loved). Finally, when the comfort level is high enough, spring in the topic that you need some help in, and Bingo! You have taken advantage of your First Leaking Lads Community. Time to celebrate...
There is no point in denying the paradigm shift that has occured in our attitude towards work. At a subconscious level, there is this need to "leverage" each and every moment, to benefit us in someway. Thats often the reason, you stop to smile and speak to the other guy, when what you really want to be doing is to kick his guts out. Even the precious lunch time is utilized in "Staying Connected".
Maintaining such a hectic pace, it makes sense to utilize this opportunity too. After all, if people are coming up with innovative ideas like one-way glass walls and LCD monitors to keep the ordinary pee'er occupied, then how tough can it be to engage another troubled, bored, tired soul into a few moments of conversation?