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Chemistry and Allergy

July 8, 2009

Recently I answered an open question on LinkedIn. The questioner wanted to know: “What is hardest about telling your professional story to prospective clients or employers?”

My answer in short was: chemistry. There need to be some form of chemistry between the players, or you’ll never get it right. No matter how hard you try with your elevator pitch; whether you’re selling a product or looking for a job. You need that little spark.

Some years back, I had this amazing job interview. The employer and I spent the greater part of the interview discussing a painting he had hanging on the wall and the television series Six feet under. After this he took about 3 minutes to look over my résumé. It was a done deal. I landed the job. There was a spark.

And the chemistry doesn’t even have to be eye-to-eye. Last summer a recruiter found my résumé online and requested an interview. I knew there wasn’t much point to it, for his contacts were all out of a reasonable commuting area. And yet I accepted his invitation. He had a pleasant telephone voice and an impeccable timing where my silly jokes were concerned. I went to the interview, simply to meet the person behind the voice and the chemistry.

Naturally, where there’s chemistry, there’s also allergy. In a former job, I worked with two younger colleagues. Being a forty-something woman, I have no problem with that. When I’m helping a colleague on a project of his, he’s got the lead. Regardless of age. As it turned out, I was a perfect team with the youngest of the two. He was 24 at the time and had a totally different approach. And yet we managed to make our differences work for us. And the results were the better for it. We had chemistry.

It was a different story with the second colleague. No matter how hard we tried, I remained allergic to him. Again it was a matter of two opposing approaches. Only this time we couldn’t complement each other. We were a downright mismatch.

I had an interesting talk the other day with an acquaintance. He thought it very easy to be a perfect match when you’ve got chemistry. The challenge is to make it work when there’s an allergy.

The jury is still out on this for me. I think that chemistry, or allergy for that matter, is the top of the iceberg. Beneath the surface there’s the question of trust. According to me, that’s what makes it work or not.

Take colleague number 1. We were counterparts and a good team because we trusted each other. I trusted his objectives and his capabilities. This was missing with colleague number 2.

My acquaintance is right about one thing: you need to communicate about your allergies. I agree — partially. The thing is, I’m not quite sure it’s a good idea to tell a colleague you don’t trust him.
 


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