As I write the title of this post I immediately start humming the Depeche Mode song in my head. In order to cure that so you can focus on the remainder of this post, enjoy the Youtube video below...
I just returned recently from Vienna, Austria where I spoke to a Christian International School there. There were students from over 30 countries and a wide variety of nationalities. It was amazing to hear all of the different dialects and observe their cultural idiosyncrasies.
Fortunately, for me, everyone spoke English. Thus, I didn't have to overcome a language barrier. Although I did try to do my best not to be too American in the words and phrases I used (slang!).
I came away from the trip with a lot of great memories. For the purpose of this post, I simply want to focus on one simple observation...
People are people.
It didn't matter the culture, heritage, or birthright of any of the students. They had many of the same basic needs and desires that I encounter here in the US. While they experience those things in different contexts, there is a common thread of humanity that ties us all together.
People like it when you listen.
People like it when you show concern for their needs.
People like it when you are authentic.
People like it when you relate to them where they're at.
People don't like it when you're arrogant.
Leaders understand that there are some basic human needs that all of us share. We all like to feel special and significant. We all want to do something that's special and significant. Even though each of us lives these types of commonalities out in a million different ways - there's something basic about working with people.
Is there a group of students that you're having difficulty connecting with on your campus? Is there an individual who doesn't seem to relate well with anybody? Are you looking for more ways to get people involved?
I think it comes down to learning to interact with people in some of these basic ways. Ultimately, it's about learning how to treat each of the people you come into contact with as a person.