December 5, 2019

Regaining the art of making connections

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When did we stop talking?

In the busyness and stress of our world, people are losing the art of forming friendships, perceiving that it’s easier to isolate than congregate. Community has become a geographical area rather than a group of people with a common resonance. For our well-being, we need to discover the art of connection. We thrive when we have deep connections.
Public transport has become a cone of silence. Who made the rule that you don’t speak to others in a lift? Is it printed next to the maximum number of people allowed in the lift? As a very small lad, I remember being told by my grandma be quiet in the lift so she could listen to the operator announcing what is sold on the approaching floor.

The built-in need to connect.

We are made to do that. Not with an agenda, or the motive of I want to get something from you like the salesperson in the mall, trying to make eye contact and stop you to sell their product. Connect for connections’ sake.

All of us have a built-in need to connect. How can we do that? One simple thing is to take up on some of the connection bids that are given. Connection bids are phrases, comments or questions that carry the hidden meaning of I want to connect with you. Someone says something that may seem of little consequence but is a reaching out to begin a conversation. How was your day? What are you up to later?

Here is a great example from improve your social skills.

“Imagine you are getting lunch with a friend, and both of you are studying the menu. Your friend says “I wonder why they call them french fries. Were they invented in France?” This is a bid for connection since the friend is trying to start a conversation with you. What’s the best way for you to respond?

Grunt and keep reading your menu.
Say, “That’s stupid — why would you care about that?”
Say, “Huh, I don’t know either. French fries don’t seem like a French kind of food, but why else would they be called French fries?”

Three responses we give to connection bids.

Turning away – to ignore
Turing against – to attack
Turning towards – to connect

I love the bible story of a man Zacchaeus who wanted to see Jesus. We don’t know if Zacchaeus was calling out, but we do know he climbed a tree to see Him. Many people didn’t see Zacchaeus. Many ignored him. Jesus saw him, and said, “ Zacchaeus, I am coming to your house”. Some attacked Jesus for his association with this notorious sinner.

Who is giving you connection bids, verbal and non-verbal?

Our society has developed a culture of outrage, where it’s acceptable to loudly and aggressively shout condemnation. Let’s not participate in that but choose to make connections.

See people.

Turning towards starts with seeing people rather than ignoring or attacking them. I love to find out a person’s name. When you talk with someone, how often do you use their name? The connection Jesus made with the lonely, rejected and isolated man caused such a change that he gave half his immense wealth to the poor and refunded by four times anyone he had cheated. Never underestimate the power of connection and its effect. Your conversation may be the only one they had today. Let’s turn the tide on loneliness.

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