The need for connection is right here, right now
Where we are in history at this moment is a challenging time for people all over the world. The need to show compassion and empathy has never been greater. And yet, for most of us, we feel inadequate to quiet our own souls.
Watching the news creates anxiety. Reading newspapers and social media gins up angst and stress. It’s impossible to get perspective when the barrage of information keeps coming without reprieve.
First, the pandemic and now the profound chaos and disorder in the world has heightened our desires for connection, for support, and for comfort. But when the problems are so big, and our reach is so limited, where do we begin?
Five ways to connect more deeply with acquaintances:
- Think about who you know that you’d like to know better. We get so caught up in our own lives that we often don’t make the effort to find out more about the people around us. While not everyone in your circle will intrigue you enough to invest more time, you most certainly will discover more than one acquaintance who could warrant your interest and attention.
- Make a list of these people. Even if you reach one person a week, you will have committed to getting to know 48 people on a more substantial basis over the course of a year. Say you actually connect to one a month, that’s a dozen stronger relationships.
- Extend an invitation. Don’t wait for the other person to ask. Be the initiator. More times than not, people are flattered to be invited.
- Follow up. How many times have you received a text and thought you were answering, only never to hit send? In the craziness of our busy days, we mean to respond, even think we have, but the thread of communication stalls. If you don’t hear back when you have reached out, don’t be afraid to ask again. Checking back in will almost always be appreciated.
- Be present and remain open. When you want to build on an existing relationship, leave your judgment at the door. Start by being curious. Find out what you share. Differences are so much easier to understand when you discover the commonalities first.
Three simple ways to make new connections:
- Offer a sincere compliment. Often, the easiest way to engage with someone new is by letting them know what you appreciate about them. When you pay a compliment, you are saying that you noticed. Being noticed by others makes us feel seen and valued.
- Ask an open-ended question. Express your curiosity by asking a question that doesn’t have the possibility of a monosyllabic answer. What you are hoping to learn is more than facts; you want to know how a person feels. To capture that information, make a “how or why” inquiry.
- To be a good listener is the start of being a good connector. But there is a second layer to that skill: to pay attention and remember. How many times have we been told we weren’t listening, when in fact we were? Perhaps what we were doing is not giving our full attention.
The double-edged goodness of connecting:
Beloved poet Emily Dickinson said: “The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” Connecting done well benefits both parties equally.
Be a connector for others. Be a connector for yourself. You’ll never regret it.
The ten traits of connectors:
- Connectors are optimists. They believe meeting new people almost always works out.
- Connectors are learners. They understand that if a new connection doesn’t materialize, there likely is a lesson in the experience.
- Connectors are excitably opportunistic. They are thrilled to meet someone new and find ways to maintain and enhance the connection.
- Connectors don’t get discouraged. They keep on going.
- Connectors are curious. They love learning what makes other people tick.
- Connectors care. They put their energy and their empathy into their relationships.
- Connectors are open-minded. When they meet you, they don’t have an agenda. They simply want to get to know you on your terms.
- Connectors don’t judge. They take you as you are.
- Connectors are creative. They find interesting ways to meet others.
- Connectors believe in connection. They feel strongly that their lives benefit from strong relationships.
Share your thoughts with me about your commitment to connecting at Ann@AnnLouden.com
A seasoned executive in the nonprofit world, Ann Louden is the founder and CEO of Ann Louden Strategy and Consulting. Recognized for her expertise in fund raising, high profile special events, and campaign planning, Ann provides counsel to chief executives, staff, and volunteer leadership.
Ann’s primary interest areas are education, health care for women and children, the arts, and adoption. As a cancer survivor, she led and was the twelve-year spokesperson for a breast cancer advocacy initiative that engaged thousands of survivors, volunteers and medical providers. With a mantra of bringing big ideas to life, Ann focuses on identifying a compelling vision and creating a goals-oriented plan for execution.
An in-demand national speaker for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Ann is the recipient of the Steuben Excellence in Teaching Award and has been named as a CASE Laureate. She is the author of the upcoming book: From Social Courage to Connection: Lessons from Leaders Who Change and Save Lives.
You can find her at www.AnnLouden.com.