Working Out Loud: Hold open the door for someone you don’t know and see what happens!

hi all of you

Nederlandse vertaling

Some months ago I ran into the DAP-programme WalkMe. Could be a useful tool for our online course development department…

About what happens when you start to grow the habit of greeting or addressing all the anonymous colleagues you meet, in the corporate elevator or canteen, on the way to work or to the Central Station, or even in your own open office. Visible, but anonymous…


I have always been kind of curious as far as colleagues and their daily doings are concerned and I must admit that in my 30 year career at VDAB I have met an awful lot of interesting people, just by initiating some small talk with them. But since I have trained myself to regularly Work Out Loud, I have grown into the habit of greeting and addressing colleagues in our premises in Brussels or Limburg, who I meet in the elevator, in the corporate canteen, on the streets in the neighbourhood and near the Central Station.


FYI: VDAB Central Offices are located very near to one of the most beautiful places in Belgium, The Grand Place.


Anyway, I meet these visible, but unknown colleagues daily and started to greet them on my way to work and meetings. It had always been a habit of mine, only, not in a very attentive way. More like an attitude of formal politeness, but not really from my heart.

Until fairly recently. It was one of the tasks in the Working Out Loud circle guides.  ‘Hold the door open to someone and see what happens…’  My first reaction was: ‘This is actually weird!’  But it reminded me of what happened a few years ago in the local fitness centre.  I had started to take group lessons. After a body vive session I asked if anybody felt like having a coffee with me.  I received some astonishing non-verbal reactions, especially some baffled looks like ‘Well, yeah, right’. I felt like having asked how many times they change underpants… But one woman replied: ‘Oh, I’d love to!’ We had two coffees instead of one… and have become two inseparable fitness buddies.

To get back to my working context,  I started to address visible, but unknown colleagues and I must admit; it has brought me the most meaningful – though often too short – conversations about work, really. Meaningful and really useful. To come to my point of writing this post:

Some time ago I addressed a nice-looking woman in the elevator who I had already met dozens of time, but never spoken to. So I asked her name, introduced myself and greeted the colleague joining her.  We walked along to a nearby snackbar, which isn’t VDAB-related, but always stacked with colleagues, enjoying a peaceful and cosy moment in between meetings and work.

These colleagues happened to be working hard at  implementing WalkMe – a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) which enables businesses to simplify the online user experience. I  found that highly interesting, because as a matter of fact,  earlier this year I had already run into this DAP on the Internet and enjoyed an informative video-demotalk. And I was informed that some people at our organisation (>5000) were working at it, but I couldn’t find them…

But the point is this amazing coincidence: That particular day, early that morning I had a completely off-the-record getting-to-know conversation with another unknown, but visible colleague. Visible, as in ‘I had noticed her in our open office but never got to talk to her’.
She turned out to be a very friendly, warm-hearted and passionate person who had recently received her WalkMe certificate.

3 colleagues I didn’t need to talk to, but I did. In one day! As a consequence I left home in the early evening with just a little more knowledge about what some of the 5000 VDAB-colleagues do every day, with lots of ‘appetite’ and working drive. I felt happy of having had the opportunity to talk to them. And happy to have gone for this initially Working Out Loud task ‘Hold open the door for someone you don’t know and see what happens…!

That’s the Working Out Loud spirit, isn’t it?