I can strike up a conversation with a rock wall. Those of you who know me can attest to this. One of my favorite places to practice my gift of gab is in airports and on planes. Talk about a cross-section of humanity… and a totally captive audience. They can’t get away from me… hah! Just kidding. This is a story about the power of connection. It all started with one plane ride and one chance conversation.
Connection at 35,000 Ft.
In 2018 I was on a flight to home after visiting clients on Oahu. It was the last flight on a Friday night, I was exhausted, brain dead from my trip, ready to take a 45-minute commuter cat nap. After getting settled, I glanced at the woman next to me. Who was she? I turned and introduced myself, asking if they were going “home” or coming to Kona for the weekend. They were heading home as well, after a week of work, which led me to the question “What do you do?” I’m so glad I asked this question.
Halfway through the 45-minute flight we were laughing, sharing stories about our lives, our kids, and our businesses. Bonding with the stranger beside me. It turns out she was a founder of a non-profit program designed to help support children who come from young parents with low-income households.
Hearing her story, I decided to takea chance and share my personal ECC with her – how my challenging upbringing and abuse as a kid transformed into a powerful driver for my life’s work as a coach, mentor and speaker. My willingness to be vulnerable, and open to true connection created an opportunity for more. She was thankful for our talk and kept saying how things are not coincidental. She invited me to speak with her employees, to help ignite what I helped ignite in her, in under an hour… all from a chance conversation on a plane.
The Power of Connection vs. Communication
How many times have you gotten on an airplane, popped in your earphones and zoned out… giving the courtesy nod, or quick half-assed “where are you from” to your seatmate? Maybe you’ve even given them the evil eye as they unwrapped a particularly odiferous sandwich, or hogged your armrests. The thing is – you never know who you might be next to you… on a plane, bus, or in line at the grocery store. I believe we don’t cross paths with people by accident, so why not take the opportunity to connect, rather than simply communicate, (or tolerate) that stranger next to you?
What do I mean? Communication is an exchange of words where connection is an exchange of the soul. Connection is when you are really seeing others and being seen. Connection is about possibility, discovery, and growth. That is the power of connection!
Tips for Connection:
-Use their name.
-Make eye contact and smile. True eye contact, not a glance. Look them warmly in their eyes (soften your glance) as if to say “hi” without a word.
-Ask them how their day is going, and LISTEN!
-Use body language that shows you’re open. Don’t cross your arms. Turn your shoulders or body toward them.
-Reach out and touch them, IF APPROPRIATE, on the arm, shoulder or hand.
Be sure to respect boundaries, and be aware of cues like body language to understand when someone is open, and when they are not. Always, always trust your gut. Remember – it’s about being present, truly present with someone. Giving them the most valuable thing you have…your time.
Until next time, happy connecting!
Do you have an awesome connection story? What chance conversation has changed your life? I want to hear about it. Connect with me.