Today I graduated in socializing with people.

a year ago   •   3 min read

By Vladimír Záhradník

Today I have great joy and reason to celebrate. Why? Read on.

As you may already know, I started working with Ness on a contract and today our team had a teambuilding session.

I didn’t know anyone there, except my manager; and even him I knew only briefly. After all, we work from home…

I told to myself I’d have fun today and meeting complete strangers would be a good experience for me, and maybe partly stepping out of my comfort zone. However, I’ve been stepping out of it so often that I don’t even find it uncomfortable anymore.

I walked into the place, saw the manager, and found out right off the bat that only about a third of the people on the team had arrived. Never mind, I’ll sort it out…

I sat down on the edge of the table and started a conversation. Yes, I did. I learned that my manager is originally from Hrabkov; just around the corner of Chmiňany, my home village, where I still spend my weekends. Then, somehow from the debate, it came out that I’m an evangelical. Another lady, Janka, picked up on that. When it turned out that I went to the Evangelical Grammar School in Prešov, she asked if a certain guy, Damankoš, was the headmaster there. I said no… Back in the day, he was my class teacher. She is supposedly his classmate — small world.

Another smiley photo

After these debates, I got up and moved to the other end of the table. Some guy, Jozef, was there passionately recounting his cycling adventures. I intrigued what places he visits with his friends and looked for inspiration. He considers himself a tramp, so I asked if he listens to Nohavica. Boom! Hit right into the bull’s-eye. From there we talked about bands like Nedvědi, Spirituál kvintet, Landa and musicals. And later, computer stories, lest it be forgotten that we are computer programmers.

Dominika loves the Beatles and has been to Paris. So I told a few tidbits about my heart city.

With another guy, obviously an extrovert, I talked about his several years abroad, especially his seven years in Berlin. He told me, for example, that he had met Daniel Brühl, the actor from Good Bye Lenin! He was supposedly a stand-up guy, very modest.

I ended my tour in the middle of the table and I was the one leading the debate.

Today I realized what a journey I have been on. From a timid kid to someone who was a complete sovereign today, relaxed and who was pulling the fun himself. And I was the only one who was actively getting up and changing seats to chat with everyone.

The only black mark on today’s meeting was that I already ate at home. I had no idea we were going to have the feast we had. At least I got a treat.

Feast in a place called Camelot, Košice, Slovakia

I am proud of myself. I already went past the people who were ahead of me; and my journey is still not at the end.

Postscript, 06/28/2021

This pleasant episode of mine is not over yet. Today is Monday, three days have passed since the team building. In the morning I wrote to the three people with whom I had the best debate.

I wrote a personal message to each of them saying that I would like to continue the debate and I added something extra so that they would know that this is a message just for them… For example, I asked what was Dominika’s favourite Beatles album. Two of the three caught on and we’re already chatting.

I apply things that work. Similarly, at conferences you meet someone for the first time and then you reminisce after a few days and then you keep in touch. You never know what’s going to come of it.

I learned to network also thanks to Toastmasters. My education path is called Strategic Relationships, and it’s exactly about how to network effectively. You can apply the knowledge in a business environment, or even in your personal lives.

Life is one giant playground. Don’t be afraid to try and experiment. Stepping into the unknown is often the fastest way to work on yourself.

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