A few weeks ago I travelled to Sydney for work. I got up at the ugly time of 3am to get the first flight out of Brissy. As I was waiting at the gate preparing to board, I looked around at my fellow passengers and noticed that I wasn’t the only one feeling a little weary.
I had my head down as I boarded. As I stepped onto the plane I was greeted by the one of the cabin crew (let’s call him James), “Hello Mrs Towers, how are you?”. Disengaged (assuming it was an obligatory greet), I glanced at him and I responded with “good thanks” and went to continue on down the aisle. However, before I could take another step, James said in a jovial tone “Are you telling the truth… are you really feeling good at this time of the morning?”. Within that moment, a high-quality connection was created. I went from disengaged to engaged. James’ comment presented with humour, had switched my brain on and resulted in a positive feeling. I looked up at him, laughed and said “Hmm, maybe not good, but I’ll go with feeling OK!”. With a big smile on his face, he nodded.
Next up was the lady behind me. I overheard James ask her “And how about you?”, she laughed and responded with “Not as good I’m afraid, I’m so tired.” With mutuality he said “Oh, I’m hearing you, I feel the same”, to which she chuckled.
I proceeded down the aisle head up and with a smile. I thought to myself This guy is good!.
It got me thinking about the power of brief interaction.
What was it about this short-term interaction that created such positive energy?
Whilst brief, a short-term interaction can be of high quality. A high-quality connection can deliver remarkable results within the workplace: amongst colleagues and clients/customers. For it to be high-quality, the two people in the interaction need to experience these 3 things:
A high quality connection occurred when I was greeted by James on the plane, because these 3 high-quality connection elements were present (Thanks James!). During my brief interaction with James:
I felt a sense of positive energy. This energy moved me from disengaged to engaged.
There was respect for how I might be feeling. This created a sense of understanding and care.
Mutuality was experienced. Once I was engaged, there was undivided attention from both parties until the interaction concluded.
Let’s not forget that this interaction was about 10 seconds in duration. Very brief indeed! That’s the power of short-term interactions with those we know, and encounters we have with strangers. If they are high quality, they can have a positive affect on thoughts, feelings, behaviour and performance.
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