Let's Be Human Together

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There she was, sitting across from me on my couch, apologizing for being scatterbrained, “I can’t think today. I’m sorry.”

I’ve heard apologies for people tripping themselves, accidentally spilling or dropping things, for not remembering my name, for forgetting information or having to ask a question for a second or third time. I have yet to come across a single one of these apology-instigating actions that I haven’t done myself and that I haven’t seen anyone else not do. We’re all human. We all fumble around. No one is perfect - this is a fact of life.

Earlier this week, at a business event I was attending, something peculiar happened. A man, whom I had never met, approached me and greeted me by name and with a firm handshake. Now, granted, I knew I was wearing a name tag but it was mostly obscured by my hair and I’m sure I looked bewildered because in my head I was instantly searching the archives of faces of people I had met. I knew I had never met this man before! So after searching and re-searching far back and thoroughly through all of the face files in my brain and being the awkwardly blunt human that I can be, I said, “Well, hello! Thank you for greeting me so warmly. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe we’ve ever met before. What’s your name?” He introduced himself and said we had, in fact, not met before but he wanted to address me by my name to show he cared.

Now, this event in itself wasn’t peculiar. It was the fact that, immediately after this gentleman walked away from me, a woman I did know came up looking at my name tag and addressing me by name. I greeted her warmly as, while I didn’t remember her name either, I knew her face and remembered her being a sweet individual and asked, “would you kindly remind me of your name? I remember you but I don’t remember your name.” She confessed she didn’t remember my name either and was thankful for name tags so that it could look like you remember names “because knowing names is important in business.” The woman who had just joined us stated, “people care if you know their name. It shows you care about them. My brain doesn’t work that way. That’s why I also like the name tags - especially the ones that are written large and clear. I can pretend I know people.”

I was slightly bemused at what I was hearing. It wasn’t the fact that remembering someone’s name shows you care, it was the pressure and shame behind the words and the repetition of the thought “knowing names means you care” in such resemblant phrasing from three separate people. This is something these people had been taught and was an area of stress for at least two of them. The first woman was truly embarrassed I saw her looking at my name tag. The second outrightly admitted she felt the need to pretend. I chortled lightly and let both of them know I would never be upset if they didn’t remember my name - that it’s okay to be human.

I see this pressure to be perfect and put together 100% of the time - not just in business interactions but on Instagram and social media and with my clients when we sit together. It’s a wonderful thing to strive to be better, to constantly improve yourself but, how many of us can agree that it is exhausting and emptying to try to show up like we are perfect all the time? (If I wasn’t typing, both of my hands would be raised along with my eyebrows).

Do you know that I’ve also been given the business advice to only show up when I can be 100% “my brand?” Thankfully for me, my brand is very much me - which includes my quirks and awkwardnesses and insecurities and transparencies. The point this speaker was making, however, was that as a business and as a person you should never appear to falter, you should always appear to have it together. I get where she was coming from, I really do, and there is value in what she was saying. You should instill trust in people and provide them with all the reasons to be confident in themselves and you (and your business). How many of us also want to hear a genuine apology when businesses mess up though? Or find it helpful and encouraging to see that the “perfect people” of the world are just as human as we are? It’s not that we relish in these mistakes or people’s flaws, it’s that we are seeking genuine connections and genuine people.

That’s just it, guys, it’s okay to be human. It’s okay to be scatterbrained, to forget information or a name, to have to ask a question multiple times. You don’t have to be #instaperfect or make it look like you’re living “your best life.” It’s okay to not be perfect 100% of the time. Your life is valuable and attractive because YOU are in it. It’s perfectly okay that you are not perfect. We are all in the same boat with you. Let’s all just be human together.

Alyson LawtonComment