My wife and I were recently flying from Portland Oregon to Phoenix Arizona on Southwest Airlines. On Southwest, prior to boarding, you line up at the gate according to your assigned boarding number and select your own seats once you get on the plane. As we boarded the aircraft, I moved into a window seat and my wife sat on the aisle seat, leaving a vacant seat in between us. When I asked what she was doing she said the flight wasn’t full and wanted to keep the row of seats to ourselves.
I noticed other people had been doing this also, in an effort to avoid having to sit by a stranger. After she told me what she was doing, I suggested that she scoot in the middle seat to leave the aisle seat open, because someone interesting might sit there. She didn’t seem too thrilled with my idea.
As the plane became fuller, her plan began to crumble and she eventually had to move to the middle seat next to me to make room for other passengers. We were fortunate to have a kind and interesting lady sit next to us that who shared some of her life experience, as well as provided some vacation suggestions for our destination. We had a great conversation and were able to connect with another human being who we had not even known prior to our flight. It was a nice way to pass the time.
As we got off the plane, said our good byes, and parted ways, I was thinking about how enjoyable the conversation was and how easily we would have never met that nice lady, had we not left room for her.
It’s easy to keep our guard up and stay detached from people we don’t’ know. We’re taught as youngsters not to talk to strangers. This is good when you’re young, but I think as we get older and more discerning, leaving room for opportunities to connect with people we don’t know is crucial to expanding our thinking and connect with other people. How boring and small our lives would be if we limit our interactions to only those people we already know. Think about this: all the people you already know were at one point strangers.
Cause something to happen in your life that leaves room for you to connect with interesting people. Leave a seat open next to you, greet the person sitting next to you at an event or in line, and smile more. You’ll create opportunity to connect with and learn from others in ways you wouldn’t have experienced before. And who knows, you may even meet someone interesting.