Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together. All things connect.
- Chief Seattle
We have more means than ever before for connecting with each other - social networks, talking face to face through our computers, at the flick of a switch we can send a video from a mobile phone across the world. You need never be alone for an instant. But do you really connect with others such that you feel heard, and perhaps validated, appreciated or cared for? Are the contacts you make rewarding and fulfilling? Do you connect with others as well as you would like, especially those most important to you?
Leaving school, I went to read Architecture at Sheffield University in England. It turned out to be a mistake. For want of better career advice, I sold myself into becoming an architect. It was not my vocation, though I learnt a lot from my two years of making the attempt.
The architectural students had a coffee bar on the top floor of a 19 story Arts Tower. The coffee bar was a place to hang out. I struggled to talk to my fellow students. I could say words, but they did not seem to reach their destination. I could not make contact. I was not heard. I felt isolated and miserable.
The fact was I had so much static of self-doubt and self-judgment going on that I could not reach out beyond it. Have you ever had an experience like that? Where you wanted to connect with someone, but just could not? Blame, guilt, frustration, shame, shyness are other forms of static that get in the way of communicating clearly, and produce misunderstanding.
I watched closely how people connect with each other. Connecting is not entirely about saying something witty or meaningful, though that is good for getting attention. Being an attentive listener counts for a lot. Listening can involve hearing behind the words, to something more profound, to whispers of the heart.
As a recruitment consultant, I learned to listen to the candidates I was placing in jobs. When I did not have a job that matched their talents and skills, I got to wondering how I could assist people with high energy and unusual gifts. This curiosity led to what I then called HEART Consultations, because I listened to what the heart was saying. The energy of the heart reveals a person's true motivations, aspirations and aptitudes.
If communicating were easy, we would all be much better at it. Here are some tips:
ABC's of Communicating
A. Accept yourself and others....
.... just as you and they are
When you judge or criticize, forgive. Judging breaks connections. Forgiving awakens the deeper part of your loving nature, which makes all communications easier.
B. Be open...
.... willing to be true to yourself, and towards those with whom you wish to communicate. Receive, without condition, what others have to express to you.
To be open is to be vulnerable. Vulnerability has the meaning both of being wounded, and blessed. Wounds can be transformed into your blessings. Every difficult experience you have can be used to develop your inner strength, such that you can stand forward more fully in the magnificent truth of who you are. Paradoxically, in that strength, you are less likely to be hurt.
To grow mature is to separate more distinctly, to connect more closely.
Hugo von Hofmannsthal
C. Create safety...
... and trust. Being frank and fair will let others know where they stand with you.
They will feel comfortable to be themselves and communicate what is true for them. This is such a profound service to offer, to any one at any age.
Loving, caring and an absence of threat will enable another person to connect with their heart and the resources it holds for them.
The thing I loved the most - and still love the most about teaching -
is that you can connect with an individual or a group,
and see that individual or group exceed their limits.
D. Decide to be friendly
A warm smile can say much without any words being expressed. Shared laughter and joy serve to connect us way beyond our differences.
Connecting silently can happen through a firm handshake, a hug, sharing the rhythm of a dance. To touch is to enrich, both giver and receiver.
E. Exercise a positive focus
A positive focus is part an attitude - of focusing on the positive, the good in any situation; and part holding an intention of a positive outcome, no matter how things look in the present. A positive focus makes good communication much easier.
F. Factor X
As delicate as the thread of a spider's web, and as strong, there is a powerful and unseen quality of connection we share that cannot be defined. You can awaken to it.
It is the connection of mother to child. The connection sometimes of romantic chemistry. The presence of a person who had devoted their life to a spiritual practice.
We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men. Herman Melville
G. Go for it!
Dare to reach out and make new connections. Dare to deepen the connections you already have. Dare to be more fully your glorious self!
You are not an accident. You are here for good purpose. Allow yourself to be seen, to be known, to be enjoyed. Awaken yourself to living in a new world of wonder and fulfilment, while being in the same old one.
What is it that draws us together? What is the purpose? What can you learn from those drawn to you? Do you have any tips for making good connections with others?