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Touchy-feeliness & Informational Interviews

Do you recall Aaron, the touchy-feely Seinfeld character whose odd mannerisms added the phrase close-talker to the American lexicon?

Played by actor Judge Reinhold, Aaron exhibited an irrational emotional attachment to Jerry’s aging parents. The multi-part episode, titled The Raincoats, was punctuated by Aaron storming a plane after Jerry’s parents boarded, yelling to them “I could have done more.”

In the episode Aaron was emotionally open in professing his admiration for the Seinfeld's. Emotionally open is a key component to touchy-feeliness, described by The Urban Dictionary as a person sharing their thoughts and emotions and wanting others to share theirs. Touchy feely information is too personal, sensitive, reflective, sentimental

Touchy-feeliness, and Aaron, evoke a decidedly uncomfortable image. Too much touchy-feely in the work place can land you in the HR office and perhaps, the unemployment line. 

But I come not to bury Touchy-Feely, but to embrace it. With limits. Strict limits. There is a time and a place for you to practice the concept, during a very trying circumstance. 

Have you ever lost a job? I have. Taking literary license with the title to Meatloaf’s hit 1977 single, I have been "All Dressed up with No Place to Go" on a Monday morning. And it stinks. 

Regularly I speak with folks who have lost their job. All share similar emotions. Loss. Shock. Despair. Denial. Hurt. Uncertainty. Occasionally, relief.

These emotions are normal. Allow for loss because a major loss it is. A loss of self-esteem, identity, income, and purpose. There is no pre-determined time table to get over this loss. It is an individual experience. Job loss is the time for you to go Touchy-feely.

Allow yourself time to mourn. While you grieve, take the opportunity to re-assess your career goals. Find a quiet and solitary place to think. If you live near an ocean, go to an ocean. If you live near a mountain, go to a mountain. Wherever your quiet spot is, go to it. Ditch the cell phone and laptop and grab a notebook and pen. Empty your mind, pouring unfiltered thoughts on to paper as you sit in solitude. These words become your playbook.

Be sensitive, reflective, sentimental, and honest with yourself. Be touchy-feely. Do not share it on FaceBook. 

From this process will come action and through action you overcome loss. You may determine you are burnt-out and seek a new career. You may determine you are tired of working for others and want to work for yourself. You may determine that you need to go back to school to take your career in a different direction. 

As you reflect and consider options, conduct informational interviews with people in your industry, or the industry you are considering: Interviews are a non-threatening way to obtain first-hand career information. It is not a job interview or job request, but a meeting to consider options and ask questions. Interviews are bound only by your own limits on questioning.   

I can vouch for the effectiveness of this process. Almost all people like to be asked for their thoughts and perspectives, and there may be no more powerful question to ask a person than What do you think?  Asked in a non-judgmental manner, informational interviews will provide you nuggets of useful information.  

Psychologically, these interviews will create a sense of accomplishment: You take positive and concrete steps. You overcome inertia. You improve your mindset. 

Pragmatically, informational interviews may lead to your next career. 

But that is a benefit and not a goal. The goal is information. The goal is to consider options. The goal is to open doors. The goal is to make appropriate career decisions.

I encourage touchy-feely, with limits. New and exciting career destinations may await. 


Informational Interview Process 

Prior to Interview

  • Contact people to interview via email 
  • Email should be polite, conversational, and brief:  Who you are, what you seek, why you seek it
  • Be clear, you are not asking for a job
  • Offer to buy them a cup of coffee in their cafeteria or a nearby location of their choosing
  • Work to their schedule   

During the Interview

  • Dress appropriately, professionally
  • Take your notebook and ask the interviewee if you can take notes
  • At the end of the interview, ask them to identify 1 or 2 more people (and their contact information) who may be willing to speak with you


Peter Martin

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