It’s not our words…

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During 2003 I spent a year living on Koh Phi Phi island in Thailand.  I worked in a dive shop which was linked to the Andaman Beach Resort. One of the staff members of this resort was an old Thai gentlemen who managed the gardens. I would see him most days as he made his way around the resort pulling up weeds or sand off the path ways.

Every time I saw him I made an effort to acknowledge him and show him respect. I would greet him warmly, smile and sometimes point to the garden and give him a thumbs up. He spoke very limited English so our exchanges were never more than 30 seconds.

Every now and then the old man would sit with his son who also lived on the island. He had been educated and spent time oversees. They were worlds apart from an education point of view but blood is blood and their bond was tight.

December 26th saw the devastating Tsunami hit Koh Phi Phi. My first inclination had been to run to the shop but the rising water prohibited us (my wife and I) from doing so. We ran up a nearby hill to get a better view and found ourselves standing on the hilltop surrounded by locals and foreigners also trying to make sense of it all.

That’s when I saw his son. He ran past us and headed up the hill. 15 minutes later I spotted him coming through some bushes into the clearing. He looked panic stricken. He clamoured into the clearing, stood up and paused. He looked around at all the people, his eyes settling on me. He put his head down, sprinted to me and threw his arms around me burying his head into my chest. He sobbed whilst I held him and consoled him. When calmed down I said his sons name, signalled to him he was ok and pointed in the direction he had headed. He looked relieved, smiled at me and ran off.

I never saw him again.

I realised in that moment that powerful human connections can be formed without words. Our intent can reflect powerfully in our body language, actions and expressions toward other human beings.

How I had acted toward him built trust and rapport.

Out of all the people on the hilltop he chose me. That moment was a privilege.

Our ability to connect goes beyond what we say. It’s how we act and express ourselves toward one another which counts.  Those actions and expressions are powerful beyond measure and needed in todays transactional world where its become more about getting the job done versus getting it done together.

Author: Travis Gale