Inspiration in a High-Five: Perseverance
April 12, 2010
One day at work there was this co-worker of mine and as we were passing each other in the hallway during break I decided I would raise my hand and say “high Five.” I did this not because I knew her that well, nor to celebrate anything. I did this because she was from first appearances too short to reach up to my high five.
She said “that’s mean” as she walked away, not even making an attempt. Her tone was as if someone had played a light joke at her expense. And at first I agreed. The truth was that I thought this individual was a nice person and I wanted to get to know her. I had had a chance earlier in the week when I showed everyone this psychology game and she played but as we had to return to work I had to quickly play through the game with her, learning a little about her goals of returning to school to eventually become a curator at a museum.
But since I didn’t have enough time to introduce myself well, I wondered what would be a playful way of breaking the ice. And that’s when as I was walking pass her in the hall the idea of “high five-ing” her came to my mind.
I automatically smirked as she walked away but inside felt that maybe my action came out too wrong. That perhaps I had given my first impression as a jerk. That’s when a further idea began to form.
For I felt that “high five-ing” her would break the ice, I also tried to anticipate how I would have to back my action with words when she confronted me. In part it was a light exercise to get to know her, but it was not meant as a joke, it was simply humorous in nature. I had something I wanted to let her know. The reason was further confirmed to me by the fact that she didn’t even try.
So again the next day I saw her coming by and I raised my hand and lightly yelled “high-five.” And again she said the same thing and did not even try. I continued my attempts again on a regular basis with mostly the same results. And I kept waiting for her to either try or confront me, but hopefully not with a supervisor. I was starting to be anxious that maybe I should give up.
But she finally did confront me. “Why do you keep trying to high-five me?” was her question.
In turn I responded, “why didn’t you ever try to reach up and give me a high-five.”
to which she said, “how do you expect me to reach up when I am not tall enough to. It’s mean.”
And to which I said, “how do you know for sure if you haven’t tried.” and then I raised my hand and gave her a nod and waited.
“Fine” she said and jumped to reach my hand with hers. I found it in mid-air and slapped it in contact. It was all done in less than a second.
She looked at me and said,”hey you lowered your hand to meet mine, what does that mean?”
“It means that I never wanted you to fail, I was always planning on meeting your high five, but you never tried so I kept waiting.” I went on to explain that I just thought there should not be any obstacles we feel are too high for us to reach. I told her that I felt she might have been feeling like that from what she had briefly told me about her answers to the psychology game we had played.
In all, it came off well, I broke the ice with her and she understood what I was doing. I apologized to her as well, in part it was still at her expense. But at least we both remembered not to give up.