No, this has nothing to do with the elevator pitch. To get to that you have to first have a conversation in an elevator. Recently at a convention I noticed that I have an uneasy feeling every time I ride in elevators with people don’t know. The convention was in the same place I was staying I was constantly going up and down to and from either a meal or a workshop.
Why am I so uncomfortable riding in elevators with strangers? I don’t think I am alone either. Think of the tension when several people are standing there waiting for their floor to light up. God forbid if the thing gets stuck. I am sure there are plenty of reasons for this discomfort but I have settled on two. The first is the default of choice. We don’t pick our elevator mates. Other places we can choose who we stand next to or have small chat with. Elevators throw us together, like it or not for a short period of confinement. That leads us to the second reason, brevity. Because we are together in a small space for such a short time we don’t see the value in investing in relationship building. We still have to endure the ride hoping no one strikes up a conversation.
How silly is that though? Like any situation we should make the best of it. We also never know where a new connection might go. So after the first day of multiple uncomfortable rides I decided to watch and learn from my friend Chris who, in my opinion, has the art of elevator talk perfected. As I began to watch him I realized he was noticing things about people. A badge, type of bag they were wearing or an accent would lead him into a question and usually result in a short but good conversation. Some would carry over into the lobby if we were headed the way. I also noticed that many people just wanted to be left alone.
It comes down to this. Even though we are confined together in a small space for a short period of time, just like any other situation we should take the chance to connect. Notice something about your elevator mates and strike up a conversation. Be ready for more. If they want to ride in silent peace let them. I leave you with my favorite elevator movie scene from You’ve Got Mail. Enjoy. And instead of staring at your toes next time, strike up some elevator talk. I plan to jump past my discomfort. Maybe you should as well.