In my Panera office, I’m as much a voyeur as a writer – though I’m not sure there’s a difference. I witness everything from chattering blind dates to retired couples slurping their soup-of-the-day, not speaking at all. Occasionally I’ll see two people who had no idea they’d serendipitously meet that day, sparks flying. Those are golden moments.
Sometimes they happen to me.
On my travels I meet random strangers either in restaurants, hotel bars, airports, or waiting in line for water. What I notice most is the energy they give off.
It’s the vibes people exude that either attract you or repel you.
I’ve been told there’s something about me that makes people feel comfortable. Sometimes they share their deepest, darkest secrets within moments of meeting me. But every once in a while, I meet a person who makes even “Smiling Jeanne” want to hiss at them.
I have never understood why people would want to impart such negative energy onto a stranger.
Maybe they don’t want to be bothered, or maybe their public veneer has turned into impenetrable armor, or maybe they don’t even realize they are coming across as assholes.
Nah, I bet they do. They just don’t care.
Recently, I met a woman who within five seconds made me want to recoil. Anytime I tried to speak, she either cut me off, or put on the most disinterested look I’ve ever witnessed. I clearly bored her to tears. While she had no enthusiasm for me, if I handed my business card to someone else in the room, she’d quickly interject into the conversation and pass out hers as well. It was all about her.
Luckily, I don’t run into people like this often. But despite my attempts at dodging her jerkitude, she had already ruined my mood. I needed a survival strategy.
I sat back and pretended I was in my Panera office, put my voyeur hat on, and watched her every move. She instantly sized people up, deciding if they were worthy or not. The majority of the time, they weren’t. In between gracing people with her me-me-me conversation, she’d flip her hair and repeatedly put on lip gloss.
She may have been a twit in real life, but she was indeed an interesting character to observe. It was like being at Jerk Zoo.
Fantasies about passing her the link to my “BALLS OF STEEL: First Impressions” article turned my snarl around – mwhaha.
But the lesson that day was mine to learn. Once I pulled away from her bitch rays, I noticed positive energy all around me. The same thing happens when I’m on a flight. Sometimes I’m seated next to a snarly, I-hate-life person, and other times, I meet the most remarkable people who I instantly click with.
It’s people like that who make venturing outside of my writer cave fun. We can chat for hours in-flight, then part, usually never to speak again. But even in that short time, people can have a profound impact on my perspective.
Bottom-line: There’s a power in anonymity. When you put forth welcoming energy, you give people a safe place to spill their thoughts. You can learn the most important lessons from someone else’s life experiences.
So the next time you’re traveling or sitting in a coffee shop, make sure you put forth some great vibes. You’ll be surprised who you can attract… and what you can learn from them.
Every human being I come across will have an opinion of me as I walk away. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the asshole in the room. I want them to walk away thinking, “Man, it was really cool meeting her.”
I’d love to hear stories of people you’ve serendipitously met in your daily life. Share them with us, and we can all learn together.