My normal place to park in downtown Minneapolis was full. The alternative is a more expensive valet parking lot nearby. I leave a little extra time in case I need to use valet parking, but it rushed me to be on time.
After the meeting, the automated payment system would not accept the strip on either of my business credit cards. I placed my folio on top of the machine as I pulled out my cash. The attendant had already brought my car to the door. It was a busy place and I appreciated his promptness.
I drove back to my office. As I shut off the car and reached for my folio, I realized it was left on top of the payment system cabinet. The flash of leaving my computer, that contained everything, at that busy location caused my adrenaline to rush to my head. All my data was secure, but it would take weeks to rebuild a new computer and make it fully functional. How do you even reach the parking lot by phone?
My receipt had the name of the lot, but no phone number. A quick Internet search on my phone actually showed a phone number to call the lot. Their response was, “Yes, we found it and have it in the office.” I had that feeling of relief when the adrenaline valve shuts-off in the body. I returned to the parking lot and the folio was again back in hand. I was very appreciative.
I thought of the book I recently read which was “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell talks about how we trust or don’t trust others. He talks about how being trusting of the wrong people causes difficulties, using examples like Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and many other examples.
Generally, we tend to trust people we think we know and not trust those we do not know. It is trust that allows our society and businesses to function. If we distrusted every transaction, society would break down.
Back to my folio. Why did I fear the loss of my folio? If I had chosen to have confidence that someone would act in a way I would in that situation, I would have had less fear. If I parked often enough in that lot and I knew the people, I would have likely been less afraid of loss.
The truth is that I could trust strangers. I have my folio to prove it. I acknowledge there are limits, but I want to make a different point.
What happens when the relationships are within a company; with customers or with vendors? Much of the silo impact in organizations is because of a “we/they” view of other departments. Much of contract management is based on distrust between vendors and buyers. Much of the vulnerability in the marketplace is because customers/prospects do not feel a relationship with the company.
It turns out that people who progress in larger organizations are more likely to network broadly in the organization, so they relate to others in the organization as trustworthy acquaintances. Companies that have formed true partnerships with key vendors have benefited from their expertise, trust, and perspective. Companies that have a relationship with their customers gain a loyalty to the company, and are thus more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt when there are difficulties. They receive more loyalty when there are competitors.
What many people refer to as “soft skills” of turning strangers into acquaintances is a powerful advantage. It also helps reduce the adrenaline hit when something goes wrong — such as my missing folio equivalent. Soft skills have hard benefits.