How Are They Brilliant?
/ Author: Ryan Timmermans
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How Are They Brilliant?

By Ryan Timmermans, Edmonton Regional Director

Over the last decade, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing well over 100 people for positions in our Edmonton Member Centre. These people hail from a wide cross section of backgrounds applying for many different positions. At first the concept was a bit intimidating—what questions do I ask? How do I make sure to assess people consistently and fairly? And the biggest piece: who’s the best fit for the position?

Over time and through practice, both my skill and comfort level increased. As confidence grew in this area, I began to think less about the questions and really started to appreciate the time spent with people. While there’s only so much you get to know about someone through an interview, you get a glimpse of how they see the world and approach it—and every now and again you are afforded the great privilege to glean others’ wisdom and make it your own.

In a recent interview, an applicant was talking about how he tries to approach people. He intentionally asks himself, “how is this person brilliant?” While the comment seemed simple enough, it struck me.

I’m not sure how you think, but asking how someone else is brilliant doesn’t often cross my mind. As I’ve thought about it more, that rather simple question forces me into a position of listening, learning, respect, humility, and a deep appreciation for the other person. To say I’ve mastered this conscious thought would be misleading, but it has stuck with me and is a piece of wise thinking I now get to practice and hopefully share.

If you have the chance to spend dedicated time with another person, talking about deeper things than hockey or the weather, see if asking yourself this question makes a difference, if it changes the lens through which you interact—whether it be your spouse, child, colleague, supervisor, a person struggling with addiction or disability, a person that’s very pleasant or one that you find absolutely insufferable. See if it changes the experience for you and if there’s something brilliant there, something you may not have noticed before.


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