How was your break?

How was your break?

clip_image002This is the question most of us ask when meeting at the airport to fly to back to work or when the crew first arrives back on site from R&R.

Is it just social etiquette, or do we really want to know?

I would suggest perhaps it may a little of both depending on the nature and depth of the relationship with that particular person.


How we answer is up to us to of course. We may divulge all sorts of juicy details to some and just a simple ‘good thanks’ to others depending on the nature and depth of the relationship.


The same conversations would be front and centre on a Monday morning for the nine to fivers too.

“How was your weekend?” regardless of what ones industry or job may be.

Then the reverse of course occurs, “Have a good weekend” or “Have a good break.” It is just polite isn’t it? I would suspect most people who utter these words genuinely mean them.


Funnily enough I was reminded pretty rapidly how differently we are all wired recently due to a chat on this exact conversation scenario.

A mate and I were chatting about his transition from working underground on a Jumbo to being predominantly on the surface and in the office in the training department. To say the frequency, type and level of interactions he was now having at work were on a whole new scale would be an understatement. He was struggling to adapt to the new environment. A polite, smart personable enough fellow yet he felt like a fish out of water.

I shared with him that when in a new environment, building relationships was always a huge priority for me as it helped to fast track the learning and increase my sphere of influence. A small example of this here.

We spoke about his bosses and the team he was now working with. I asked,

“How much do you know about them?”

“What do you mean?”

“Where are they from, do they have kids, what do they like to do on break?”

“I dunno know” he said, shrugging his shoulders.

Which led to me asking,

“Well for instance with your old crew, when you got back from break what was the first thing they asked you?”

“How was your break?” He replied,

“What was your usual response?”

“Good” he said. I waited yet nothing more was forthcoming.

Having my suspicions I then enquired,

“So then what do you say?”

“Nothing I just carry on with what I was doing”

Letting the silence have its moment for a prolonged period (very unusual for me) he said.

“What?” (In the same tone as that guy in the beer advert who does a bombie into the spa.)

Now to you and I perhaps the natural flow of conversation would then be for him to ask how their break was. It’s just how it usually goes…

We are not all wired the same.

Of course spending over a decade in a dark hole mostly alone may have an impact on some people’s social skills. It did for old mate anyway. On saying that, I have met many troglodytes who do not seem to be effected by that environment at all.

The good news is that he has gone ahead in leaps and bounds, can’t shut him up now apparently, he is well liked by all, quite the social butterfly and his sphere of influence and fast tracked learning has astounded all. He took on board everything we chatted about that day, worked on his communication and relationship building. ATTABOY! So proud of him. He has ‘seen the light’ lol.

I share this little story to reiterate what has rung true time and time again for me and no doubt for many of you too:

Building relationships, connecting with people and giving a little of yourself will always increase your sphere of influence. It will assist in many areas of our lives too in fact.

Some of us do this as a natural course of ‘being’ with no agenda. The by–products of this undertaking should never be underestimated in my experience. Once we witness how much more can be achieved by having many connections and relationships, cross pollination in a way, with many teams and at all levels of a the work force or organisation, it is astounding.

‘Only use your power for good.’ HHM

In the safety arena, well don’t get me started. One of my sayings back in the day was always:

‘If you can read you can be a safety weirdo, to be any good it is more about ‘people skills.’

How little did I know back then, yet at least I knew that much.

If you are hitting brick walls at work with management or the crew,

If you are trying to implement change and getting nowhere,

If you are doing everything right from a ‘compliance and data driven perspective’ yet nothing is improving:

Hold up a mirror first and foremost. As always.

clip_image004What else can you do?

Have you built the relationships you could leverage for support?

How much do you know about the people (especially the ones who may be causing you grief) you are working with at all levels?

How much do they know about you?

What do you have in common?

What are their feelings on the current situation?

How is it affecting them?

This all sounds so very basic and simple doesn’t it? I am certainly not trying to insult your intelligence. There may of course be more at play than just personal connections and ‘soft skills’ (do not like that term, to master those skills can be very powerful and some find that very hard to do.)

Most are probably all over this. It is my belief that this may be a huge part of the reason they are dealing with the many and varied frustrations at work (and in life) pretty successfully at the minute.

If some are not so blessed, then perhaps going back to basics is what is required.

(Basics in my world anyway.) Or building on foundations already in place yet a tad neglected?

I shall finish up by sharing one more tit bit.

A big kahuna on site ‘had a chat’ with me about spending time with the crew after work on site, having a few drinks, dare I say even forming friendships. He told me it was not a good idea as when the time came to ‘pull them into line’ then they would not listen, further more they would not trust me as I am too friendly too quickly. (I was the safety advisor.)

I get that often. Some old school ‘leaders’ think keeping a distance is best.

What a load of bullsh#t.


I respectfully declined his advice. Letting him know that ‘pulling them into gear is not how I operated as it doesn’t work’ along with a few other ‘thoughts’ I am not willing to share at this point.

Within 2 weeks on site he apologised for the previous conversation and said he had never seen a crew ‘clean up their act’ so rapidly, that no other advisor had achieved the level of engagement and ‘compliance’ (cringe, alarm bells in my head at the compliance language) that I had in such a short time.

He finished by saying “you may be on to something.”



Any who time to shut up now.

Humanising safety – what a revelation….

Keen to know your thoughts and experiences on this guys.


Stay safe, keep smilin’

Only use your power for good

Cheers Drewie 🙂



‘Fly in Fly out Life’ Mentor: supporting on-site teams + Women in ‘boots’ Mentor. at Hard Hat Mentor

Latest posts by Drewie (see all)

Drewie has worked her way up through the ranks on remote FIFO sites all over Australia and one project in Canada to date. With a career spanning 30 years, she estimates, a culminated 5 years 'off' trying the 'other life’ here and there in the hospitality and fitness industries. Her first day on a remote site was her milestone 18th birthday and she also celebrated her 21st living in a donga and blowing the candles out on the cake at the wetty. Apparently if her upcoming 50th ends up being the same scenario, that would be ok too. “Though my family may have other ideas about that”. She is currently and shall continue working with Clive Lloyd's team at GYST Consulting where Values Based Safety - using 'The Care Factor' approach to Culture development and Authentic Leadership are front and centre. The big news is that 'Hard Hat Mentor', Drewies’ own consultancy, is now in an exciting development phase where all energy and focus shall be channelled into two causes very close to her heart. The first will be supporting on-site leadership/teams/work crews and individuals to thrive in the, at times, very challenging FIFO work and lifestyle. The second is to be a mentor to the gutsy 'Women in Boots' who may need a hand now and then in a male dominated arena with its own unique set of bumps in the road to navigate. Drewie says, “One cannot spend so very long working remotely on gruelling rosters without picking up some wisdom along the way, albeit at times seemingly from osmosis alone! There are many hard won lessons we learn in such a unique environment, mine are demanding to be shared now, very loudly, they refuse to be ignored, so my new journey begins.' Drewie has also taken her first steps to study ‘The Social Psychology of Risk’ formally and has a new skip in her step due to all the knowledge to be gained and shared in the future.

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below