Industry insights. And other brain fuel!

Get J2 updates delivered straight to your inbox!

Sign up to get the weekly Friday Food for Thought email & the quarterly PULSE email.

Sign Up For Updates!

Know Your Tribe

it staffing companies in chicago

In a previous career I was in a meeting with a client and at some point, during the meeting I said “hell”. It was more of a reaction to a comment made, and I may have said “what the hell!” Back at the office my supervisor pulled me into his office and told me that was extremely inappropriate and I had to call the client and apologize for my lack of respect and use of foul language. Turns out they were Mennonites; I was young and clueless.

What I learned after that meeting was that I had not known the people I was speaking with, I had no idea that Mennonites did not like foul language. More importantly, I had yet to build trust in my relationship with them.

Fast forward to a few years later: in a different career, I dropped the F-bomb in a meeting with a client. Once again, I got called out by my supervisor and told that I could not speak to the client that way. In this case the client overheard the conversation and let my supervisor know it was OK and that I had built that kind of relationship with them. That is sometimes how they interacted with people they felt comfortable with and they were not offended.

Like many of you I have several sets of friends. What and how I say certain things in one group is different than what I say and do in others. Some of you may think that is not being me. Communicating differently to different people does not mean I’m going against my values, it just means I say some things differently than I might in other circles. I have gotten to know these folks, built relationships and know what I can and cannot say and how to say it.

In certain circles if people were to overhear what we’ve said to one another they may think we were not friends at all. Let me share an example: after the FFfT in which I shared that one of my superhero powers was to simplify things, a friend sent me a note saying “It’s because you’re a simpleton!!!”.  Now on the surface this could come off as my friend is being insensitive, (which he is!!).  Having said that, that same friend was one of the first to call and ask how I was doing when I was going through a tough time a a few years ago. He was there if I needed to talk, hang out for a change of scenery or just sit with me silently until I wanted to say something.  That gesture from this snapper head went a long way.

In other circles when people hear us they may wonder why we are yelling at each other (that’s a loud group). In all my circles of close friends one thing is common, we will be there for each other through thick and thin, no questions asked. (Though in certain groups we will bust each other’s chops.) But the relationships we have built are ones where there is tremendous amount of trust, respect and knowing each other.

Relationships at J2 are one of our pillars. For us, relationships are built on trust and respect. Given that many of our clients are referrals, the importance of knowing and understanding the tribe of which you are connecting with has become part of our employee culture and a cornerstone of our company. This weekend, take a minute to be present with who you are connecting with and continue to strengthen your bonds with your tribes.


“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca


Have a great weekend.