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Do you lead with your head or your heart?

airport GIF

I was sitting at my gate this past week waiting to board my flight to Orlando, Florida and there was a woman in her early 70s sitting at a table with her phone cords, day-timer, and the contents of her purse spread out in front of her. She was speaking loudly, rudely, and in distress to a customer service representative,

"My flight was canceled, and I need you to refund my money NOW! I don't have enough on my card to wait 7 days for a $300 refund. I need it now, so I can still rent a car!"

The more she kept yelling at this poor customer service rep, the more agitated I got. I started feeling judgmental towards this woman.

"How does she expect someone to do something for her when she is yelling like that?" I would think to myself. "Who does she think she is!?" Followed by more judgy thoughts as I tried to concentrate on the task in front of me on my opened laptop.

After about 5 minutes of listening to her side of the rant, she hung up, and there was quiet. I then looked up from my computer to see her hiding her face with her hands as she wept. This is when my judgmental brain moved to my heart, and I started to feel bad for her. I asked myself, "What would my heart say to help this woman? Do I go talk with her? Do I offer her $300 to help her out? Do I see if she needs help navigating the system to see what is within her rights?"

I could feel my heart racing as I got up, sat down in front of her, and said,

"Excuse me."

"Yes?" she said.

"I couldn't help but overhear your conversation, and I wanted to see if there is anything I can do to help you out. I hear that you will be rerouted to Denver. Are you going to be ok? Have you spoken with the airline?"

At that moment, she started to tear up, and you could feel her energy shift and lighten. "No, no, I am ok. I have people who can help once I am there. You're making me cry; this is the kindest thing a stranger has ever done for me." And at that moment, I could feel myself tear up as well. We both sat there for a moment, and then she said,

"Thank you."

I said, "Best of luck to you and your travels."

And then, I didn't know what to do with myself. I felt overwhelmed with emotion and awkwardness, so I walked towards the kiosk to buy a water I didn't need so I had something to do.

I am sharing this story because, as communicators, it is so easy to be in our heads with all of the judgments and discursive thoughts. But what if we could shift these thoughts to the heart? What would the heart tell us?

In that moment at the airport, shifting and leading with my heart allowed me to connect with another human who I was harshly judging moments before, on a deeper level. It reminded me that sometimes, a simple act of kindness can make a world of difference. So, next time you find yourself caught in judgment or frustration, try shifting to your heart. You might be surprised at the compassion and connection that follow.


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