In my second published book, ‘ABCs of Effective Networking’, I urge people to engage in quality conversation while travelling. Through recognising and optimising opportunities I have met some wonderful people. Of course, you need to be cognisant of people’s need for privacy and I do consider it a privilege if I sense that they are happy to engage in conversation.
Let me give you an example: Last week on the 13 ½ hour flight from Sydney to Johannesburg I discovered that I had a great travelling companion. As we settled down I looked at the guy sitting next to me and said; ‘you look familiar…are you a cricketer?’ I know nothing about cricket but I knew my granddaughter would never forgive me if I’d sat next to a famous cricketer and didn’t bother to ask his name. He adamantly replied, ‘no, I have never played cricket. I am a surfer.’ The conversation could have ended at that point but I was intrigued and persisted further. Practising what I preach I continued. ‘Oh, that is interesting. Where do you surf?’ (You’ll notice that I’m giving an example of using my ‘listen-comment-question’ technique of building quality conversations.)
I was then able to lead the conversation towards our work-lives. When he mentioned that he is a professional speaker, the ‘penny dropped’. He was Travis Bell, the Bucket List Guy. He and I belonged to the same organisation of Professional Speakers in Australia. That is why he looked so familiar. Of course then the conversation flowed. As we chatted we discovered that there were so many people whom we both knew and we had attended the same conferences.
I discovered that the reason he was taking the flight to South Africa was because he was on a work assignment. He was on his way to Monte Casino to present at a coaching organisation’s conference. Thus our conversation turned towards coaching, a topic of great interest to both of us. So we had so many areas of common interest. You might like to have a look at one of his videos:
Life's way too short not to live your Bucket List | Travis Bell | TEDxMelbourne
When next you travel by air, make a conscious effort to build quality conversation with the person sitting next to you. Use the ‘Listen – comment – question’ technique. And ask open questions. Yet, respect the person’s privacy. Not only are you likely to have a far more interesting journey, you’ll discover the person sitting next to you and enrich your own life.
My questions for you:
- How often do you connect with the person sitting next to you, whether it be during a journey or seated at a conference?
- What are you doing to improve your conversation skills?
- Once initiated, if the relationship is of value to you, what action can you take to sustain that relationship?
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