Before, during, and after the interaction.
The door thrust open and in walked a puffy black jacket with a human face somewhere underneath. She removed her scarf. Then her earmuffs. Then her hat. She unzipped her jacket, only to reveal another huge jacket underneath. She threw that off as well, and finally, I could see her clearly. As cold as she was, she gave me one of the warmest embraces I’d had in a while. This was the first time I saw Lacey in three years.
Lacey and I went to school together from age five to eighteen. We played on sports teams. We went to dances. We copied each other’s homework. We even stayed friends during college, coming home and immediately going to the other’s house the day we arrived back. But after college, Lacey lived with her parents. I moved to the city. She was never great with her phone, and we lost touch. We barely spoke for three years.
But Lacey works in the city now, and to my surprise, I received a message from her the other day asking if she could stay with me. There was news of a big snowstorm, and she wouldn’t be able to find a train or get a ride back home. After not seeing her for three years, I thought it would be awkward. I thought her reaching out would be awkward, seeing her would be awkward, and the time after would be as well.
But it wasn’t. She made it as pleasant a reunion as it could have been. Here’s how she did it, and here’s how you can reconnect without the painful awkwardness people fear when getting back in touch with somebody with whom you’ve lost contact.
2 Reminders for Before You Reconnect
1. Acknowledge the awkwardness.
Lacey did a great job in making the awkward situation not feel awkward at all. She sent me a message that directly addressed the fact that it is probably awkward to be reaching out after it being so long.
Hey! So, this is totally random, and I know it’s probably going to seem a little bit awkward, but I work in the city now, and with the snowstorm, I’m going to need a place to crash for the night. Any chance I can stay with you? Totally understand if that’s not cool! Anyway, hope you’re well!
According to Jodi Glickman, contributor at Harvard Business Review, it’s essential to “acknowledge the lapse of time.” In this case Lacey equated lapse of time with awkwardness.
To take it a step further, Glickman offers sharing a “why” for the lapse of time. Have you been living with your parents in a different city? Have you been off on a sabbatical? Maybe you moved across the country. Address the elephant in the room and explain why you’ve been away from the other person’s life for so long.
2. Succinctly explain the “Why Now?”
In Lacey’s message above, she didn’t write a one-thousand-word essay about how we’ve been apart for so long. She didn’t try to be disingenuous or get details about my life only to then ask a question that would benefit her right after. She succinctly explained why she was reaching out now. There was a storm, and she needed a place to crash.
Glickman describes that it’s best to be transparent about your motive, so that the other person doesn’t think there’s something ulterior you’re hiding. She recommends getting to it quickly, and also offering a concession, like Lacey did when she mentioned she understood if I said she couldn’t stay.
2 Reminders for During Your Connection
1. Act like it hasn’t been that long.
The warm embrace was all we needed for it to immediately feel like we’d seen one another yesterday. Lacey acted like three years wasn’t a long time by immediately starting to reminisce about things we used to do together. For instance she saw my coat rack, and said, “I see you still have the same style.”
Relationship writer Heeba Hameed recommends bringing back the good old memories. It gives you something to immediately agree upon, think about, and expand on as you begin to catch up.
2. Be interested, but also be interesting.
Lacey asked me questions about what I was up to, how my family was, how my friends were. The basic pleasantries. But she also was eager and excited to share with me what she had been doing. She works in the medical field now, so she was quick to share experiences (some gory, some heartfelt) she knew I’d enjoy.
If you don’t have a fascinating job like Lacey, Business Insider has some recommendations for how to be interesting during conversations. Shana Lebowitz recommends having three stories in mind and ready to share, embracing your weirdness, and opening up about deeper topics. No matter if it’s the first time seeing someone or not, this level of conversation is endearing.
2 Reminders for After You See Each Other
1. Send a creative thank you.
Lacey left for work in the morning, and I didn’t see her the next day. Afterward, she sent me a great article to a show we’d been talking about. She thanked me and again mentioned how awkward it was that it had been so long.
By doing this, you become memorable. This is a key networking and interviewing strategy. So many people send a generic thank you message, but this shows you really took the time and you care about sending something meaningful instead of a basic thanks.
2. If you don’t want to lose touch again, schedule the next meeting.
Also in her thank you message, Lacey asked if we could see each other again. She shared some times she was free over the next month, and we picked a date.
Don’t let history repeat itself. Get a time to see each other again on the calendar immediately. Don’t let time slip like you did all the years prior.
It was so great to see Lacey and gain back an old friend. But if you really think about it, she didn’t do anything too complex.
She was brave enough to reach out, she was herself, and she let me know she wouldn’t let our losing touch happen again. This is how you reconnect with somebody. Be like Lacey and make the first move!