The family photo effect

Everyone takes photos with their family, but only those who have their priorities straightened pin them up in their cubicles at work. And with that act comes a family photo effect.

Earlier today I visited a car workshop. I was there to get my vehicle fixed and make an insurance claim after a minor road incident. As you might imagine, it was hard to be chirpy on the way there. I think I made an attempt at being above it deserving of a cookie though.

When I arrived at the workshop, things got better. A lot better. There, I spoke to one of the most pleasant men I’ve met in a while. In Singapore, as it probably is with many cities, an auto workshop is one of the least likely places to meet good people. Most of them are either driven to desperation by poor business or too much business. And the ones in between are often out to make an extra buck off their customers. But not Ah Wah the mechanic manager.

Aside from a conscientious effort to speak in proper English (a sign of learnedness in Singapore), he did something few people, let alone a mechanic, will do. Ah Wah pinned 3 photos of him with his wife and young son on the cubicle wall to his left. These photos were inadvertently on display, which was how I got an open glimpse of them.

These photos made me immediately trust him.

What bad things can a man do when his family–his wife and his child!–are up on the walls of his workplace? Mild ones at most. That’s how I think I reasoned it in my head.

So this is what I’ve learned from Ah Wah: if you want to gain people’s trust, one good way is to show that you care about your family. My logical induction goes something like this:

  1. Displays photos of family proudly at work
  2. Must know what family means, and cares deeply about his/her family
  3. Must therefore understand that everyone has a family
  4. Is significantly less likely to do things at the expense of a member of any family

That sounds about right to me.

Basically, if you can show me, without being coerced or influenced by fashion, that you are willing to let people know your family is important to you by enshrining their photos at your workplace, you’d have gained my trust.

It’s weird when analysed like this, but it’s part analysis, part instincts.

  • X

    I once heard a story from a woman who was sexually assaulted by a man in his office – and the detail she remembers glaring out at her is that his wife and child were smiling at her from his desk.

    So… unfortunately it’s never as simple as we’d like it to be.

    • Nick Ang

      Hey X,

      Oh my god that is horrific… but thanks for sharing.

      I still stand behind my generalisation here. The story you brought up sounds more an exception than a rule. A poignant example of exceptions to rules in my mind is that of people who seem to love life and laugh a lot. Robin Williams looks like one of the happiest people we see on TV, but he committed suicide in the end.

      The story you shared is sending chills down my spine though.