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The infamous elevator button on the fourth floor.

One of the amazing things about a culture bump is the ability to “peel away” layers and layers of meaning for even the smallest incident. A good example of this is one of the first culture bumps I had in Regina, Sascatchewan, Canada this past week. I had the pleasure of speaking about Culture Bumps and Conversations for Connection to employees of SaskPower for their Diversity Week Program while staying in the Radisson Plaza Hotel. As I came out of my hotel room early the first morning that I was there, an employee of the hotel walking down the hallway ahead of me, glanced back over his shoulder and saw me coming out of the door. As he passed the bank of elevators on my floor, he reached out and pushed the “down” button. I thought to myself, “Oh I guess he’s going down in the elevator too”. However, he simply continued to walk.

My next thought was “Oh wasn’t that nice”. It is not something that I would think about doing. Later that day, Derrick Shirley and I were working with a group of about 30 SaskPower employees – I described my bump to them and they looked at me quizzically – “Yes?” “So this would not be unusual for you?” I asked. “No, its just helping one another.”

The next day, I again described my bump – this time to a much larger group of over 100 employees and found the same quizzical expression on their faces. The discussion evolving from this incident concerned the sense of pleasure we humans find in being thoughtful for others – I began to look at how I think I may be thoughtful ( and thoughtless!) in different situations. As I have had conversations with others about their self-perceptions of thoughtfulness and thoughtlessness, I have discovered new depths in myself and others. Once again, a small “hiccup” in interactions, a “culture bump” has been the key to new awareness and behavior.

So I now find myself lurking about hallways, hoping to push the button for someone else…Thanks Canada!

(June 20, 2014)

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