There was an intense storm last night and for a while, our electricity was out. Somewhere between our house and the big electric grid, the connection was interrupted. It also tripped a breaker in my house, a connection that thankfully I could restore. It caused me to think about the power of making and missing connections.
If you happen to flip through the free newspaper in a local coffee shop, you might come across the Missed Connections section. These small personal ads range from the modestly hopeful to the cringe-inducingly awful all because someone noticed an intriguing other but was too shy or too distracted to seize the opportunity and engage in the moment. Some other missed connections come to mind. Think – weather-delayed flights and impromptu sleepovers in an airport lounge or nearby hotel while you wait for another option and hopefully make it to wherever you were going in time.
I find the flipside of this topic more intriguing. The act of deliberately making connections. It is almost always within reach if you stretch beyond your comfort zone and get intentional about it. By definition, intentional is no more complicated than simply acting on purpose – being deliberate. Every day offers endless opportunities to make purposeful connections. Taking an extra beat to make the moment in front of you come alive with intention.
My recent Collective Conversations guest, Gary Gregory calls them transformational moments versus transactional ones. (His anecdote about his father washing the dishes is worth the listen alone!) Saying “Have a nice day” to the grocery clerk is often so rote that it loses its meaning. But stopping, calling them by name, and genuinely asking, “How are you? Thank you for the care you take in your work. I hope you have a good day.” It takes six seconds longer but acknowledges the human behind the task and hopefully leaves the clerk feeling seen and appreciated for their often thankless, or even invisible, work. The clerk spends hours of their life in our service. You have the power to deliberately engage with gratitude and recognition that the work matters.
Similarly, when our team members walk the property and engage with residents sincerely and deliberately, the benefits are hard to quantify but you can bet they are worth more than the time spent. When residents feel seen, heard, and appreciated, the payback comes in the form of reputation and retention. Phones down. Eyes up. There is a world of opportunities for connection just waiting for you to deliberately engage.
Leaders set the standard for connecting the dots. One of the biggest missed connections is in the failure to give the why behind the what. No involvement = no commitment. Giving out a list of to-dos or setting a stretch goal without fully explaining the purpose behind the request is a huge, missed opportunity. Team members work smarter and harder for an agenda they understand, contribute to, and believe in. Without purpose, work devolves into an uninspiring grind.
How much discretionary effort would you put into something that you didn’t believe in or understand? See what I mean? That is a missed connection that no business can afford, and it costs nothing but intentional action to fix.
What are your missed connections stories? I invite you to share them below.
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