Try being a know-em-all

On my way home from a lecture in Lisbon, I changed planes in Newark.

During my 3 hour layover, I had a mysterious experience: I recognized almost everyone I made eye contact with. I don’t know if it was because I was sleep deprived or just hopeful, but I’m telling you I thought I knew everybody I saw.

What did I do? I smiled, said hi, and asked people how they were doing. What kind of response did I get? A bunch of people claimed to know me too! Not because of my talks or books, but just in general. They chatted with me, asked what I was up to and by the time my flight boarded, I’d made several new friends. It was the best layover ever.

What’s going on? The law of reciprocity. People are conditioned from childhood to reciprocate. Even strangers, especially in stressful situations, like air travel. While some people looked away or tried to ignore me, at least three out of four engaged me and appreciated my “mistake”.

My advice for you next time you are traveling is to be a know-em-all. It will make your next trip rock.