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The Starbucks Effect - 3 ways to build connection + rapport

Beyond the caffeine, Starbucks has this multiplier effect on my work. I’ve become more productive, more efficient, and even more connected while I’m working there. I know I might be speaking only to the extroverted folks here – as there’s a big difference between what allows extroverts and introverts to do their best work. But beyond the E- I difference – there’s connection that also occurs when I work at Starbucks. And that’s important.

Over the last several years of working full time with Orange Slice Training, I pack my bags and commute to my virtual office. I have a couple favorite Stabucks in and around Minneapolis. It’s there I’ve met a fellow author and speaker, a former NFL player who also happens to be gay, and a retired woman who led Vision Quest expeditions. These are just a few of the connections I’ve made that have inspired me in the moment. I mention them to you because when I sit at the ‘community’ table I can choose to say nothing and keep my head down. Or I can get out of from under the shell of my laptop screen and ear buds and be inspired by the connecting with others.

As leaders, the expression of warmth and connection goes a long way.

As leaders – whether it’s positional, in your community, or just with those you interact with daily, there are opportunities for us to connect with each other. Take them. Try these 3 things to connect when you’re at Starbucks – or wherever you find yourself:

1. Make a comment. Last night as I went to pick up my power cord, that I left at Starbucks earlier that day, my husband and I noticed this little boy. He was about 4 -- and bouncing around with these really groovy little glasses on his nose. I commented to his mom, “Those are some cool glasses – way nicer than the ones I wore when I was 4. He looks like he’s having some fun.” This was just about noticing. Short. Brief. Something I could have passed on saying – but it just felt right. You might be sitting next to someone reading a book you’ve wanted to read, or just finished. Make a comment and connect.

2. Smile. This sounds so easy and trite. Can you think of the times you walk past someone and it feels like they are trying harder not to notice you? And then there are the times you catch a glimpse and exchange a simple SMILE with a stranger? It's a simple act. One that brings joy into my world. At times it ends there and that was maybe all the connection (or joy) that needed to be in that moment. Simple acknowledgement. And sometimes it’s the start to a conversation. When someone joins you at the community table, smile. Dang…smile as you pass people in the hall, on the street, while you’re in line. Add more SMILES to your day.

3. Say Yes. This is more about being open and the attitude you have. It’s not about adding to your to do list. I know at times, I’d rather just hide and keep my head down and work - or be on Facebook – and not have to interact with anyone else. Once you give a mental YES to connecting – life unfolds differently. We are designed to connect with others. We are social beings. Allow yourself to experience life as you were designed. Notice the opportunities that show up as you say Yes to connecting. The opportunity for me this week is a neighborhood happy hour tomorrow night. Yes!

You don’t need me to cite other research about Emotional Intelligence, Mood Contagion, or Positive Psychology to know this matters. (I’ll bring those up in future posts.) Common sense and your experience can provide the validity and reliability to what I’m talking about here.

For now, how about saying Yes to one of the ideas above.

What do you have to lose? Or should the question be,

What do you have to gain?

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