‘The compassionate Fool’ by Norman Cameron , is one of my favourite poems. It’s beautifully written. When I first got to know the piece I thought that it was about me, as teenagers tend to. About how difficult I found it to get out of relationships in case I hurt the other person’s feelings. Then I passed through those difficult pubescent angsts. Now I read it differently.
The Compassionate Fool
My enemy had bidden me as guest.
His table all set out with wine and cake,
His ordered chairs, he to beguile me dressed
So neatly, moved my pity for his sake.
I knew it was an ambush, but could not
Leave him to eat his cake up by himself
And put his unused glasses on the shelf.
I made pretence of falling in his plot,
And trembled when in his anxiety
He bared it too absurdly to my view.
And even as he stabbed me through and through
I pitied him for his small strategy.
Today it makes me think of the people that we meet when we’re networking, I see them as the ‘compassionate one’, even more so if the networker is ‘pushy’. We’ve all met the type. Thick skinned and persistent, the kind of networker who has learned a few ‘tricks’ to get people talking, and uses them clumsily, bringing his ‘small strategy too absurdly into view’. Poor networkers tend to be, like the villain in the piece, obvious, pitiable and in too much of a hurry to stick the knife in to dinner.
Successful networkers take their time, help their friends and look for opportunities to do that, before asking for anything, and it may take years.