One of the greatest joys we have as human beings is to make a meaningful connection with another person—a friend, spouse, or our children. By ‘making a meaningful connection’ I mean that we are ‘in the present’ with the other person and really ‘show up’ emotionally and mentally. This type of intentional significant connection is a gift you can give another person, and of course it’s also satisfying and rewarding for you. The fact is, we all have a need to connect with other people in a meaningful way; that is simply the way we are created. Rick Carson, noted expert in Gestalt/Existential Therapy and mentor of mine over the years, once told me that he believes there’s absolutely no substitute for making a significant connection with another human being. There is life—life blood, if you will—in that exchange between two people.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to make that kind of deep human connection, and many people try to substitute all kinds of things—work, hobbies, addictions—or make other unsatisfying attempts to fill that need. Other people avoid making a connection by talking in circles, generalities, or by deflecting. As a result, their lives are a smattering of surface conversations, going through life not knowing another or being known.
If you would like to try a step toward an intentional, meaningful connection with another person, here are few tips to help:
1. Focus on being in the present with the person in front of you. Your mind may go other places; simply notice it drifting and refocus yourself again.
2. Make eye contact
3. Really listen to what the other person is saying. Set aside your own agenda, pay attention to what they are saying and be genuinely interested in their words, thoughts and feelings.
How would you rate yourself on making significant connections with others?
Ask yourself, what gets in your way?
Think back to a recent one-to-one conversation.
| Did you actually ‘show up,’ emotionally and mentally, for the conversation?
| Did you look the person in the eye, and listen, really listen, to what that person was saying?
If these are areas where you have difficulty, practice the tips above.