The Chance Meeting….. Are you Ready?

Picture this.

You’re going through your typical weekend to-do list. Sweats and tennis shoes in full effect as you navigate the usual’s.

  • Grocery run; done.
  • Walmart; check.

You’re cart pushing out the store and make eye contact with….

Your boss.

Yep, they shop at Walmart, wear weekend sweaters and mostly matching weekend caps.

Lady Fortuna has paid you a visit. Are you ready to seize the moment?


4 Great Tips To Take Advantage Of A Chance Meeting With The Boss

  1. Don’t Fade Away
    More often than not, a person’s first instinct is to agree with everything the boss says. To listen intently and nod when he/she is speaking, to laugh at and and all jokes, and generally give them the floor. After all, he is important and you are not. But the truth is, you are better off responding with honest interest or polite disinterest.
  2. Seize the Moment
    Unless your boss looks busy or seems completely uninterested in talking to you, identify a piece of common ground and jump into the fray. Staying knowledgeable of current events can help; it’s generally a good ice breaker. As long as you’re polite and behave appropriately, the worst thing that can happen is that your boss talks to you out of pity.
  3. Be prepared
    Have your elevator speech practiced. You should be able to spin this off at any given moment. This article can help.
  4. Don’t Kiss the Ring
    Make a genuine effort to get to know him/her, but never treat the boss like he is above you. Often, their looking for authentic, confident people who can set aside their status and like them for who they are. So don’t be afraid to make a few jokes, give the boss a little bit of a hard time and talk to him like he’s an old friend from college.

Any Other Suggestions?


Hope this helps you in your career travels. Make this article awesome if you find value in it.

My Very Best,

James E., M.I.S.M.,

GovLoop Community Leader

Friend Me! I’m Awesome!!

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Carol Davison

I was going for an interview at the Department of X’s training department. In the lobby I recognized their Human Capital Officer! I just happened to do so him because he was pictured on OPM’s Human Resources University Webpage. I said introduced myself and he offered to escort me to the office. I actually used my elevator speech on one. I said that “I build leaders and lead change to optimize performance”, and got the assignment. Preparedness met opportunity.

Actually I live far away from work and have only run into co-workers three times in 16 years.

James E. Evans, MISM, CSM

That’s a great example of maximizing the chance meeting and elevator speech usage. Have you heard back from the interview? Keep us posted. Best Regards, James

Andrew Krzmarzick

Hey James – This seems like good advice for bumping into anyone of influence. For instance, I’ve been at the airport and recognized my elected leaders…so I went up and said “hello” and commented politely (not politically 😉 about a recent piece of legislation. I also talked to them more personally about how impressed I was that they were using commercial air travel. In DC, this scenario is bound to happen a few times, especially if you live on Capitol Hill or in Georgetown…

But it’s also true that other types of chance encounters that you highlight can lead to serendipity and unexpected opportunities…so key to seize them in whatever form they manifest.

James E. Evans, MISM, CSM


So very true. It’s important that we are prepared at all times. Opportunity knocks when we least expect it.


Yes it’s true we need to ready at all times no matter what, but I also think meeting your boss at the local hardware store put a human (more) element to them, and to you. You’ll find out that you have more in common than just the company/organization you get paid from. And I think bosses want to know more about you (not all the gory details of your operation, per se) but they want to not only see what you can do, in terms of skills, but how you responded to an ‘everyday’ situation or even those crises. It could just be that situation or experience that resonates in their minds when a new project comes up, or a job opportunity. Also, if you meet your boss at a local community event, talk about your community involvement… maybe this is an area the boss him/herself is passionate about, and has an idea for more community involvement in the workplace (all hands meetings, donation drives around the CFC time, etc) and you can be their 2nd in command in these types of events… all the while learning directly from them, gaining their advice and suggestions, and maximizing on that moment (in time) to shine. Chance encounters are good, how you respond to them can be priceless.


Hi All, appreciating Nicole*s comment 🙂 It is always interesting, to think about or feel a little bit, how it might be, to stand in the shoes of our boss, or someone who is a challenge for us and stop taking sides. Many times, it is really a question of perspectives. When we can loose contraction, our counterpart can relax as well, start breathing and thinking, making different decisions. Authorities have been difficult for me, since my childhood, but I know, I have a choice, in reacting, breathing deeply, relax…..*In whatever form they manifest*, with Andrew*s words….. wonderful description. 🙂

James E. Evans, MISM, CSM


Always remember that bosses are people first. It’s very likely that the boss will have some (if not more) of the same uneasiness. Some bosses draw their power from their work badge. Once the badge is removed (like after work); so goes the power. I ran into one of my bosses at a buffet; she was more uncomfortable than I. Food for thought….