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  • Writer's pictureJamie Gustafson

Little Blue Benches - Lessons in Connections

In the fast-paced world of business, it's easy to forget the importance of building real relationships with our colleagues and clients. We're often focused on achieving our goals and completing our tasks, with little time to spare for meaningful conversations or interactions. But today, I want to share a small but powerful lesson about the value of creating space in business relationships. Because sometimes, the simple act of sitting down and having a conversation can make all the difference.

When I was deployed overseas. I was the only one from my unit who went, and I did not know anyone who would be on the other side. Being one of the very few women in my career field added another layer of loneliness to the trip.

But scattered around this new place that I called home were these little blue benches.

These designated smoking areas served as so much more than a place to inhale they became places to meet and enjoy conversations with people who had no agenda. I met people from all over the world. Even with the sirens going off alarming us of an incoming threat we took cover in a cloud of conversations that were built with space.

In business, we often feel like we don't have time for those types of interactions. We're too busy with emails, meetings, and deadlines. The truth is, those moments of connection can be just as important as the work we're doing.

By creating space for real conversations, we can build stronger relationships with our colleagues and clients that will ultimately benefit our businesses in the long run.

So how can we create that space in our busy lives? It starts by making a conscious effort to slow down and prioritize our relationships. Instead of rushing through the day, take a few minutes to sit down and really listen to someone. Ask them about their day, their family, their interests - whatever feels natural. And most importantly, don't be afraid of silence. Sometimes, the best conversations happen in the pauses between words.

It's also important to be intentional about creating opportunities for these types of interactions. Schedule a lunch or coffee meeting with a colleague or client and make it clear that the goal is simply to connect and get to know each other better. When meeting in person is not an option, a Zoom coffee can do wonders and I really enjoy taking a walk with my earbuds in while they also take a walk and discuss how things are going in a relaxed way.

Ultimately, creating space in business relationships comes down to being present and open to the people around us. When we're willing to prioritize those connections, we create a culture of collaboration and respect that benefits everyone involved.

In the end, it's important to remember that our relationships are at the heart of everything we do in business. Whether we're building a team, serving our clients, or growing our network, the connections we make along the way are what truly matter.

When we take the time to create space for those relationships to thrive, we can build stronger, more fulfilling partnerships that benefit everyone involved. So next time you're feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list, take a deep breath, find a little blue bench, and take a moment to connect with the people around you. You might be surprised by what you discover.

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Jamie Gustafson Balad Iraq

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