Last week, my husband and I visited a new local food shop in our area. We were standing there looking at the menu when the man behind the counter said, “Excuse me, sir, can I ask you a strange question?” 

Both of us were a bit startled. My husband agreed, and the man proceeded to ask, “Why do you have two watches on?”

I laughed a bit and wished I had a witty line like “he likes to waste time” or “he’s scared he’s running out of time” but I wasn’t quick enough. My husband wears a Garmin on the one hand and an Apple watch on the other – it is truly a strange trait, to say the least. 

But this observant man’s question really got my husband talking. They dove into an in-depth conversation about sports watches, how much my husband loves technology, and how the technologies are different when practicing different types of sports. He also got my husband talking about his real passion; triathlon.

This interaction got me thinking about the man’s genuine sense of curiosity and how observant he was. I also appreciated his sense of courage to ask a random stranger questions and then engage in a meaningful conversation. In ten minutes, he learned more about my husband than some will learn in a lifetime because he was observant, curious, interested, and engaging.  

The ability and willingness to connect with other people in a meaningful way are SO valuable and SO rare.  

Sure, we are often taught to ask questions. But there was a quality to the way this man did it – something different. He chose to ask a meaningful question. You could just see and feel his genuine interest. It was fascinating because when people talk about building relationships, they talk about asking questions, but this was way more than that. In this example, there was a richness or quality in how he asked his question and engaged.  

That’s the quality of a relationship builder some people have difficulty describing or articulating. It’s not just asking questions but coming from a place of genuine curiosity that colors the questions, the energy, and the engagement.  

This man’s level of interest in my husband’s answers added to it too. As my husband started to talk about how each watch has different functionality, he was asked additional questions about the quality of the watch. And that led to him talking about sports and being asked to share more about what he was interested in. This man’s genuine interest colored the quality of the questions, which, to me, is how he built a quick and memorable relationship.  

Here is the big Whipp:  Our world is filled with shelves of books and hacks to build relationships. And yet, in less than 5 minutes, this man demonstrated all of it presumably because he understands that great relationships begin and thrive from observance, curiosity, interest, and engagement.

When have you watched or paid attention to a person like that? What if we brought this type of attention to our most valued relationships? 

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