Building Friendships through Podcasting

Every two weeks, I chat over Skype with Lisette Sutherland. We talk about different aspects of working with other people, mainly about working in a virtual team as this is Lisette’s specialty and something I am very interested in. This chat forms the main part of my new podcast 21st Century Work Life, every fortnight. The weeks in between, I chat to someone over coffee or over Skype about another aspect of contemporary working practices or work.

One of the best things about creating this podcast is meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends, acquaintances and what I call “professional friends”. These are people I’ve met in a professional setting who I really enjoy spending time with. Our conversations are mainly about work and work-related matters. A lot of my work has to do with people’s behaviour, mainly with how they behave at work. Conversations about human behaviour are always fascinating, so some of these conversations really make my day.

Yesterday I took part in someone else’s podcast. The show has a refreshing format: it’s just about the host and guest having a conversation, about different topics. It hasn’t been set up to educate, but to entertain, to draw you into the conversation. One of the things we were talking about was Communication Methods. As I was rambling on, it struck me that podcasting is for me, a new way of meeting people. And the funny thing is, that as myself and the other person get to know each other, we do this in front of an audience. Maybe that’s part of the attraction of listening to podcasts – you don’t just get a lot of information or entertainment from them, but often you are also part of something that, though recorded, is very much alive: the birth of a relationship.

I’ve now recorded 21 interview-based episodes of the Spain Uncovered podcast. Some of these were with people I’d met once, some with old friends and some with people I’d never spoken to before the interview. In every case, from my point of view, the interview has not just focused on presenting a range of information to the listener, but also on getting to know the person behind the voice, what they’re worried about, what they enjoy, what they feel is important to share.

I’ve thought many times of the public nature of a lot of social media – of the way we talk about ourselves in public and present it for some kind of audience to see. But I’d never thought of the nature of podcasting. How it’s helping to build relationships and, going back to my chat with Lisette, to strengthen them. I never thought I’d be making public the very private nature of friendship.

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