The flight wasn't full so there was a seat between me and the other passenger in my row. When the middle aged, bald man sat down he introduced himself (Ben) and shook my hand. We exchanged some pleasantries and then he offered to turn on my reading light so I could enjoy my book. About an hour later I woke up to find that I had fallen asleep nearly instantaneously and Ben was kind enough to turn off my light while I dozed.
We began talking again and I soon got this man's life story. From his family, to his career, to the places he's lived and worked, I learned it all. And through our conversation I found three key takeaways of advice from Ben, who I just happened to sit near on the plane.
Don't Say "No problem"This is something I never really thought about before, but Ben made a point to me that "no problem" has a negative connotation. You never want to hear "no" and no one likes a "problem." He suggested saying something like "my pleasure" and "you're welcome." Word choice is so important (check out this post about how to improve your speech) and this is a new phrase that is on my radar to eliminate.
Say hello whenever you're on an elevatorThis applies to when you're on a plane, in line, etc. The point is that you never know what saying hello will lead to. In the best case scenario you can have a great conversation and find a person that you can provide value for (or that they can do so for you), and the worst case scenario is that you get little response and continue on your way. It's a way to remember that taking advantage of all of your opportunities, no matter how simple, is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Always ask the questionWhether you are afraid of rejection or think that your request is silly, from the sage wisdom of Ben you should always ask the question (whatever it may be!). He described how you can get much more out of life than you ever expected when you are not afraid to ask for it. Being ok with getting "no" as an answer is key and you may be surprised by the response you get.
What I also confirmed from this experience is that talking to people and being friendly can lead to great results. People LOVE to share their life lessons if only you are willing to ask, and you get to benefit from them! Listen more than you speak and you will end up with a happy conversation companion and a lot more information than you started with :)
Have you ever learned from a stranger? In this sort of situation are you inclined to talk to another?