Missed Connections

Written by B.J Woodstein, PhD

Have you ever seen someone across the room or on a bus and wanted to speak to them? You didn’t know them, but there was something that pulled you to them, and you felt a connection of some kind. Then the person leaves the room or disembarks from the bus and the moment ends and you never get to know them. Or perhaps you heard someone you didn’t know say something really interesting and you wanted to join the conversation, but you were too shy and you didn’t have the courage. Then the conversation moved on and you didn’t ever take part in it.

Similarly, at work, have you ever felt like you wanted to get to know a colleague and maybe work on a project together or even become friends but you didn’t know how to start the conversation? Or have you thought about how you had a skill that you knew would contribute to a task, but you were afraid of bragging about yourself? Or have you been in a meeting and wanted to speak up about an important issue, but couldn’t quite formulate the right words at the time? Later, you might mentally kick yourself and think you should have been brave enough to talk, to suggest, to question. But the moment is gone.

Or is it? Is that moment of possible connection truly past?

Well, we’d argue that it isn’t. In the world beyond the workplace, the concept of missed connections has long been a popular one. Sometimes people have felt a spark between themselves and someone else, whether romantically or otherwise, and didn’t act on it at the time, but later realised that they didn’t want to let it go. So they put an advert in a newspaper or online or they asked for help from friends, and they managed to connect with the person after all. Sure, in some cases, nothing came of it; maybe the other person didn’t feel what the person placing the ad felt, or perhaps there was no real spark after all. But sometimes it did lead on to something more: a creative partnership, a beautiful friendship, a short-term relationship, even marriage and kids.

If we’re willing to accept the idea of rectifying missed connections outside the workplace, then why not within a place of employment too? Maybe we can call this the “keep calm and speak up” approach; in other words, don’t assume you wasted the opportunity and that your chance is now over forever. Take some time, think about what you want to accomplish, and make it happen. How you do that, however, will depend in part on what the scenario is. We’ll cover a few common “missed workplace connections” in what follows.


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