I carried out an unusual experiment this week.
I decided to try hitchhiking, to see whether I could get a lift.
But I also wanted to put my communication skills to work to try to stack the odds in my favour.
I needed to get to Madingley Hall, on the outskirts of Cambridge, to talk about some business and writing teaching.
I could have cycled, but it would’ve taken at least half an hour.
There were also some annoying hills, and that would have meant I arrived hot and sweaty for important meetings.
I no longer have a car, the bus didn’t go all the way to Madingley, and I’m far too mean to get a taxi.
So hitchhiking it was.
In fairness, it wasn’t that much of a gamble.
It was only about a mile to walk from where the bus dropped me off, if that should prove necessary.
I prepared well, as I do.
The night before my adventure, I carefully wrote my destination on a piece of cardboard, as pictured above.
But that was when the thought struck about how I could look more attractive to a driver.
(Which was important, because I imagine most people wouldn’t want to stop for a lumbering, ageing lump like me.)
So I added a please, to demonstrate at least some positive character, enhanced it with establishing my tutor credentials, and followed all that with a little smiley to try to show I’m not as scary as I look.
Did it work, I can sense you asking?
I’m happy to say the answer is yes.
Car number five stopped, after only about 90 seconds walking, and kind, retired Ray offered me a lift.
Did my messaging work, I asked? Yes, he said.
He reckoned anyone who wrote a sign like that couldn’t be too dangerous, and might even be worth picking up and talking to.
Just a thought, when you’re working on your communications.
A little character and some warmth can go a long way to achieving your ends.