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Is It Time To Let Your Contacts Out of the Box?

by Kenda Salisbury, CPSM, Business Development Manager, Degenkolb

Last year at Build Business, the SMPS National Conference, I met a man who changed the way I think. I first noticed him riding a self-propelled scooter in and out of the conference crowd. He was loud and obnoxious. He made a horrible first impression. I immediately decided he wasn’t someone I wanted to meet.

Flash forward to the keynote speaker. Who bound onto that stage? You guessed it, obnoxious scooter guy.

His name was Chris Bashinelli. Chris is a former actor, most famous for work he did on HBO’s The Sopranos. Now, he hosts a show on Nat Geo Explorer about ‘Being a Global Citizen.’ The essence of Chris’s message was this – ‘to be successful in any field you must take the person sitting next to you and place their problems on an equal or greater plane than yours.’

When you look at someone, are you looking at who they are in this minute (like I did when I first noticed Chris zipping around on his scooter)? Are you looking at them through the lens of all of your experience with them? Notice the box you’ve put them in – friend, co-worker, client, threat, equal, etc. Do you ever let them out of that box? When you look at your boss, is he always your boss? Do you allow that he’s a dad, husband, community volunteer, etc.? Do you really listen and engage with the people you meet and see on a daily basis or are you making assumptions?

That day I learned that I put people in a box in my head. I decided based on one experience that Chris wasn’t someone I wanted to meet. Thankfully, he made me want to let him out, to listen and learn more about his struggles.

Now, when I meet someone for the first or 40th time, I remind myself that I can’t possibly know that person’s complete history. I have to be willing to let him or her out of the box I put them in my head. I have to really listen and make their struggles equal or more important than mine.

Who have you put in a box? Is it time to let them out? Give that person another chance. Keep trying to get in the door with a teaming partner or client. Don’t give up on anyone. You can’t possibly know where they’ve been.

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  1. Diana Badowski

    Jun. 30, 2016

    What a great aha moment for you, Kenda, and lucky for us! Thank you for sharing this story. It is a clever reminder to remain empathetic despite our busy workload, deadlines, and individual perspectives.


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