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Ackert Blog

How to Hone your Ability to Relate to People

I was in Philadelphia presenting at a partner retreat this week. The program went well, and from a business development perspective my various meetings in Philly were productive, but in hindsight, the trip was not a total success.

I was running late for my flight back to Los Angeles. My Lyft driver dropped me off at the airport with just 30 minutes before takeoff. My stomach started growling as I passed through security, so I grabbed some food to-go and ran to the other end of the terminal, weaving through the crowd, the wheels of my luggage clacking loudly over the airport flooring. By the time I reached the gate... the plane hadn’t even started boarding yet.

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The abrupt change in pace, from sprinting to waiting, prompted reflection on my interactions that morning. I had been too stressed out to strike up a conversation with the Lyft driver, had failed to make eye contact with the woman who just sold me the sandwich and bottle of water I’d bought at the nearby kiosk, and I was too distracted to thank either one of them for their help.

Perhaps these minor offenses are forgivable when we are pressed for time, but I view them as missed opportunities to practice relatedness. In hindsight, it wouldn’t have significantly delayed me to connect with the people with whom I had come into contact. Failing to do so wasn’t a reflection of my urgency, but rather my mindfulness. We all have the opportunity, through our various interactions, to hone our relating skills. All it takes is a moment of eye contact, a few kind words, and recognizing that the people around us are more than just background extras in the narrative of our daily lives. Such practices are good “reps” in the gymnasium of business development, where we must consistently hone our ability to build relationships with strangers, strike up conversations, and forge lasting connections. I plan to do a better job of it when I board the plane.

Authored by David Ackert

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