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Recently I learned a very valuable business tool at a moment when I least expected to and from a person that I would never have considered an advisor. When was this moment? When I was completely “unplugged” from my business mentality during vacation and headed to the pool. Who is this unexpected advisor? My 4 year old daughter. What was this business tool? Well, that requires a short story to fully understand.
My daughter and I were walking back to our hotel room from the pool when I noticed something interesting. We must have walked past 20 people between leaving the pool area, taking the elevator to our floor, and going from the elevator to our room. My daughter was recognized by almost everyone we passed with a wave or a greeting and she smiled back with a comment of some sort. Normally I am so used to this that it doesn’t phase me, but for some reason it caught my attention more than usual.
I am a proud father and truly believe my daughter is a unique person whom none should forget. But this is not so much about my daughter and more about what I finally realized she is doing that makes her so memorable. Once we got back to the room I asked her “Who were all of those people you talked to on our way back to the room?” She responded “Oh, just some friends I made this week. I don’t remember all of their names, but they are really nice.”
I decided to watch her on the way back to the pool to see if I could figure this mystery out or if I was reading too much into it. As soon as we left the room and got to the elevator I saw it. Two other people were waiting for the elevator and once she got close enough she said “Hello. Are you going down to the pool?” They responded “Yes we are” and smiled. If it were me (or most other people I know), this is where the small talk ends and the silence generally sets in. But my daughter said two more words that changed the conversation from small talk to getting to know one another. She said “I’m Hannah” and smiled.
In society, it is a norm to reciprocate. When someone smiles at you, you feel obligated to smile back. When someone reaches out their hand, you extend yours as well for a handshake. Well, when someone tells you their name, what do you feel obligated to do? That’s right, tell them your name. That is exactly what happened. The two individuals smiled and said “My name is Tim and this is my wife Jennifer”. Although you can’t remember everyone’s name, you will remember those that took the effort to tell you what their name is. Why? Because not many people do it.
The next thing I noticed is Hannah didn’t do this to everyone, just people within a normal talking distance. What is that distance? Approximately 5 ft – that’s right, the size of an elevator. We got on the elevator and she did it again to the kids who were already on it when the doors opened. They gave her their name as well and continued talking to her as we got off the elevator and went to the pool.
Throughout the rest of the week, she would recognize people and vice versa. Sometimes it turned into a longer conversation and sometimes it just turned into an additional wave or smile. Regardless, she was making an impact with those individuals long after the small talk. With a scientific background, I had to ensure there wasn’t a variable (such as being a cute little 4 year old) that artificially caused this situation to occur. So I decided to try this as well and the results were the same. Although I met the same number of people that I normally would, the conversations that happened after the introduction of my name lead to more meaningful conversations and one lead to a friendship being formed beyond the vacation.
Overall, it is a simple step that doesn’t take much more than 2 extra words within a 5 foot radius. But the impact of being remembered is exponential. Imagine the possibilities both personally and professionally when this is applied.