Connecting With People

Connecting With People

I talk to people on planes.

In fact, if I have a short flight with a 3-to-a-row setup, sometimes I’ll choose the middle seat to better my odds of meeting someone interesting.

I remember once scaring someone as we settled in for a 4-hour flight out of Phoenix. He had the aisle seat and I had the window.

I was standing behind him before we sat down. He was getting settled with his computer and pulled out his headphones.

”You won’t need those,” I said.

Drawn Headphones

He gave me an uh-oh look, half-chuckled, and then responded politely, ”I’m kind of a headphones kind of guy.”

I put him at ease and let him know I was I joking, but we ended up talking business, employee engagement, and customer care for the entire flight … 4 hours of two-way learning and thinking of ways to improve things (212ing things). He was responsible for the business of a large hotel chain.

It was a great conversation, and it’s the kind of thing that can happen all the time if you’re open to it and practice it. (You can get really good at it with time.)

I share this with you to encourage you to make more contact with the people around you … even when you’re on a plane.

Connecting with people can lead to so many good things. (See below for two of my favorite things I’ve learned on planes over the years.)

Connecting with people is how we hear and learn things. It’s how we develop the relationships that lead to so much of what we enjoy … more opportunities, better experiences, better results … at work, in life.

Drawn Plane

And if you’re a leader, you know connecting with people is a big piece of what makes good things happen. (Lead Simply fans … invest 2 minutes to reread pages 21 – 23 for an important reminder of what you can do today.)

Pace your expectations on this, of course. Every connection with another human being won’t always be a wonderful experience. And particularly on planes, you’ll sometimes wish you hadn’t started the conversation. (Really.)

But in the long run … know that connecting with people invites so
much good.

Model. Connect. Involve. 3 points to better leadership. Get the book.

From the air, favorite number one…

I once spoke in Vancouver, BC to a large group of people that sell dental implants. On the way home, karma put me next to a dentist who was on her way to a conference in Chicago (to better her skills at putting in dental implants). She had a practice with about 20 employees, so as you might guess, we talked employee engagement, professional development, business, parenting, and dental hygiene.

A great discussion, but the gold I’ve shared most … her analogy that’s turned me and many of the people I’ve shared it with into committed (once, maybe twice a day) flossers is this…

”Brushing your teeth but not flossing is like taking a shower and just washing the front of your belly and the small of your back. It doesn’t get the smelly bits.”

Drawn Floss

Favorite number two…

On a flight into Newark (around Thanksgiving), a guy once shared with me how he and his wife try very deliberately to ‘do a mitzvah’ every day. I’m not sure he said it exactly like that … ‘do a mitzvah’ … but the idea stuck. (I hope they’re still doing it.)

He explained to me that a mitzvah in the Jewish faith is an act of human kindness for someone else … for no real reason other than to do something kind.

At the end of each day, he and his wife’s mitzvahs become part of their conversation (which I’m guessing inspires more good things and more mitzvahs).

Which reminds me of this idea from A.J. Jacobs (an American journalist)…

”I had always thought, ‘You change your mind, and you change your behavior,’ but it’s often the other way around. You change your behavior… and you change your mind.”

What Jacobs found on his ‘Year of Living Biblically’ (literally) is that when he ‘pretended to be a better person, he became a little bit better of a person.’ When you have time (17 minutes outside the money hours or on a well-earned break), you might enjoy Jacobs’ TED talk. If you don’t have the time, he begins the thought above at 6:19. A solid lesson.

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