The Obvious But Overlooked Reason We Don’t Really Know Each Other

On the plane ride home from the east coast, I sat next to a guitarist in a pretty well-known jam band. He’s engaged to be married, has played all the big venues in the Bay Area, loves chocolate wafer cookies (“the most underrated snack”), always travels with his guitar in the overhead bin, and drinks lots of orange juice, no ice, even when his fiance orders wine.

That’s about all I know.

Thanks to my naps, our respective devices, and my kids, the two of us probably talked for no more than 15 minutes total, including the pleasantries necessary to slip into the aisle to go to the bathroom.

Considering the flight is 5 hours, that’s not much time and yet I get this feeling that if I asked him, he would have put me on his guest list. Also, when I got home, I sought out his band on Spotify and had a 48-hour binge on his music. Now I’m a fan. For the rest of my life, if someone mentions his band, I’ll say “Great band, cool guitarist.” And I really only knew him for 15 minutes.


5 hours of sitting next to each other and 15 minutes of talking…

Apparently, when it comes to building rapport and trust, proximity is more important than words.

The great choreographers of Marketing and Branding know this. The schmoozy champions of Sales & Networking know this. The savvy psychologists of Romance and Relationships know this.

Spend some time with someone and the walls go down, an opportunity manifests, and an alliance is probable.

This becomes a revolutionary idea when you consider the impact. We, as in everybody in the entire world, are most likely to become close to whoever we’re sitting next to or living next to or going to school with or working with…

It’s not some complex chemistry thing. It’s nearness that makes it possible for us to care. If someone else had sat down next to me, I’d be closer to them and not to the jam-band guy.

I almost wish it was more complicated or cosmic than that, but it’s not, so when you feel like you don’t know (or maybe even don’t like) someone, go share some space with them. You don’t need the right words, you don’t need some step-by-step guide. Just enter the space they’re in and sit there.

You just might get on their guest list.