Relationships influence behaviors.

Jan 14, 2024

This morning, as I sat on a plane waiting to head home after working with educators at the California Kindergarten Conference, I was reminded of unintentional consequences.  Though people often associate consequences with negative outcomes, I was fortunate that my actions resulted in positive ones.

The adventure began two days ago on my trip to California.  I purposefully scheduled an early flight out to give me wiggle room in case problems occurred – which was fortunate because due to a delay, I received a text that I had to be rebooked.  After making it through the line to speak with an airline rep, the news wasn’t good.  “There aren’t any options on flights today, but I can get you there tomorrow afternoon.  Will that work for you?”  No.  No, it won’t.

After much discussion, I was booked on a flight with a different airline scheduled to arrive late the same night.  Though not ideal, it would work as long as no other problems surfaced.  So, I headed to my new gate to speak with another agent.  Luckily, due to no line at the counter, we had time to talk.

The condensed version of this story is that after bonding with this lady, not only did she find a connecting flight on which to wait-list me (6th in line), but 20 minutes after I sat down, she called me back to the gate with a big smile on her face.  “Great news,” she said.  “I had a hunch, so I just kept checking every minute or so, and sure enough, a seat opened up and I grabbed it for you.  I wasn’t thinking that wait list would work.  Honey, you get in at 3 PM today.”

Upon reflection, I’m certain the reason I got on that earlier flight was because an airline representative really wanted to help me.  And she was motivated to do so by our brief positive interaction – fueled by good social skills. (Thanks, mom.)

When it comes to human behavior, for me, the lesson is three-fold: Good social skills feed healthy interactions. Healthy interactions build positive relationships. Positive relationships serve as the best and most lasting way to strengthen positive behaviors.

Have a great week.

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