Summary: In November 2018 it is estimated that we are with 7.7 billion people on this planet. Maybe you did not know it yet, but we are all connected to each other. This article is about how you can become more aware of the connection you have with others so that you can communicate more effectively and experience more joy in the office, in the supermarket and at home.
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In the first years that I worked at an engineering firm, I made a lot of (geohydrological) calculations using a computer model. The models were based on a FEM (Finite Element Model) network (mesh). The aim was to calculate the effect on the groundwater level of a specific geohydrological intervention (e.g. groundwater extraction). In the model you could add various parameters such as precipitation, the permeability of a soil layer or the resistance of a riverbed. You could adjust these and many other parameters. Soon, I realized that if you changed only one parameter on a particular node, this had an effect on the whole model.
We are all connected
We are all connected, just like a geohydrological model. For example, I write this article where you get something valuable which you can apply in your life. Something that helps you to become more effective or happier. That has an effect on your environment.
How can you be more connected with others? Examples of things I’ve written about before are by listening better, by showing empathy, by asking good questions and by being authentic.
Why is there no connection with others?
That is because we are often distracted. We are distracted by so many external factors such as our colleagues, customers, family, news and, last but not least, our mobile phone. The reason why we like to be distracted is because of our reptilian brain. Thousands of years ago, when we were still hunters and living in a threatening environment, there was danger behind every tree. A wild animal or an enemy of another tribe who eagerly wanted to attack you. Our reptilian brain is programmed so that we give attention to everything that moves. It could possibly be something dangerous!
I would like to break the news to you: those dangers are no longer there! You are now safely at home, in the train or at the office and reading this article. Nothing is going to attack you and there is no reason not to be connected to the people around you.
Advantages of real connections
An advantage of a real connection with others is that it’s easier to ask for help. Help with a project or other challenge at the office, but also when you have a difficult personal dilemma.
Another advantage is that communication can be more effective when there’s a connection. If I keep looking at my computer while you are telling me about a meeting with a client, then I am not aware if I have anything to do with it. As a result, a problem can arise and you have to tell me again.
When I am connected with friends, family or strangers, I experience joy & happiness.
7 techniques for real connection
I have 7 techniques for you for real connection with others:
1) Go and have lunch with your colleagues!
Despite the fact that I love to be among people and to be on stage, I tend to be introverted. I could really enjoy making good geohydrological models, sitting alone at home (and writing this article), being alone walking in a forest or reading a book. Some people use the excuse that there is so much work left to do, that they have lunch at their desk. That may occur once in a while but if you do this more often, you will miss what is going on in the workplace, you will miss a tip from a colleague and you will miss a break from your thoughts. By having lunch with your colleagues, you create a connection.
2) Watch the shoes
I recently read this tip somewhere and I found it very striking. While you are talking (while standing) with someone, make sure your shoes are aimed at the other person. You will not stand comfortable with your torso turned away. When your body is directed to the other, there is more focus and connection.
And pay attention to the shoes of your conversation partner. Are they aimed at you, or not? What is happening? Do you feel a connection? Real contact? There is a chance that this is not the case. You can then better excuse yourself and talk with someone else or try again later.
3) Write a note
There is certainly someone who you would like to thank you for their help or friendship. Write a handwritten note in which you thank the person, for what they did and what the effect was on you. So no email or e-card! It is even better to go to that person and read the note in person. This requires courage but will certainly contribute to a stronger connection.
Give without forgetting, receive without forgetting.
4) Look in the eyes
Did you know that if you look in the eyes of someone for 4 minutes, you feel more compassionate? Compassion is, just like empathy, the ability to live the situation of someone so that you also feel what another person feels. Compassion leads to connection. So pay attention again to the eyes of someone else. Notice the color of the eyes and whether there is a gradient of color. Research has shown that if you look in someone’s eyes for more than 7 minutes, there is a big chance that you will fall in love. But that is another connection than what this article is about …
Smile when you come to the office, when you walk through the station or when you step into a café. You do that by lifting your cheeks towards your eyes. The average person is focused to recognize (possible) problems and sees the world with suspicion. If you enter with a smile, people will notice that. People look at you and … there is a connection even without a word being said! More likely, you yourself will feel happier with a big smile on your own face …
You will notice that you need courage to do this. By walking up to others and to make a connection, you will make yourself vulnerable. By smiling or looking into someone’s eyes, you will notice that this gets easier.
6) Repeat the name of the other person
It is often quite exciting to have a conversation with someone you do not know. You then are looking for common interests so that you have something to talk about. But there is immediately a connection and a feeling of friendship and trust when you often repeat the name of the other person in a conversation.
7) Try another way to thank
You might often hear “Thank you” and “Thanks” (especially in the season in which you receive presents). Try to thank someone in a different way. A suggestion is to say the following: “I am grateful” during this month. This will stand out and make it really clear that you are happy for your gift. A real connection is created.
Where is joy?
Actually, the above techniques are just a few psychological tricks or reminders. They do work, try it! What matters is that you first connect with yourself (How? Read: get out of your head) and that you are convinced that we (you, me, your colleague, the man in front of you in the tram, your customer) are all connected. Just like all nodes in a model, just like all cells in a body. We each do have our own goals and functions, but we are connected to each other. Just as a cell has an effect on the proper functioning of a body. A body cannot live without cells and cells without a body.
Everything I and you do has an effect on our environment. All you have to do is to be aware of this, it every moment, and to ask yourself where joy is.
If I ask myself “where is joy?” Then it is as if I am connecting with people in the right way. I listen better and I am in the here and now, in the moment.
Think at the level of the body; act at the level of the cell.
Make a conscious connection. Before you go to work, before you get up, before you have to give that important presentation, before getting on the bus, imagine that you are connected to the people in your environment. You can do that by looking briefly at everyone, but also by imagining and feeling that connection (similar to the one you have with family and good friends). Ask yourself where joy is.
What happens next is magical: you become aware of how you can help others better, what you have to say (or not!) and you will see that others are more inclined to have compassion for you. What strikes me personally is that people regularly come to me or wave at me. People who have seen me somewhere and thank me for something I did. And I must confess to you that I have never met those people and that I really cannot remember what I did.
There is recognition because there is then a connection. Apparently people remember you better of how you have made them feel (and not so much because of what you said). The art is then to act on it by listening carefully or asking the right questions and making the right decisions that are good for the whole.
What are your experiences when you consciously connect with others? How do you make a real connection? Let me know in the comment box below. I, and other readers of this article look forward reading from you!
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Have you seen an error in this article? Let me know! I am grateful!