Connecting with people: ways to form a deeper bond with others
Connection is more important than ever as we try to recapture the energy we gain from being close to others after months of lockdown. What are some of the ways we can make sure our connections with other are meaningful and genuine?
If you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere where it’s safe to venture outside, then no doubt you’ve had the pleasure of catching up with a friend or colleague. I bet you found it a breath of fresh air – I know I have. Although I am still training online, I’ve also enjoyed gradually getting back to face-to-face work.
While we’ve done our best to keep up with our fellow humans over the past few months, and we’re lucky we have the technology we do, there’s nothing quite like the energy you get socialising in person. Connection with others is essential; as I’ve written before, humans have ‘herd instincts’ the same as our horses do. We need to live in a herd for support and protection. It boils down to feeling safe.
There’s lots to do
This pandemic is such a significant event that researchers are already planning studies to look at the psychological impacts, including how connected we are socially. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports around one in five Australians reckon it will be more than a year before life is back to normal, while almost 10% think it never will.
We’re going to have to make a lot of effort to re-establish connection. Think about this in the context of your own life and work. For example, will it be difficult to go back to sharing space with colleagues again? Will we get used to greeting people without handshakes and hugs?
In helping others to think about connection, I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt in the course of my work.
Listen and listen well
When we meet someone who we don’t know or haven’t seen in a while, we can often get concerned with what to say to them. This can mean we forget to actively listen which can get in the way of our attempts to connect.
Listening has delivered some of the biggest ‘aha’ moments during our courses. Obviously, our horses don’t speak (they’re not Mr Ed!), but they do communicate. If they feel you’re talking at them and not paying attention to them in return, then you’ll see it in their behaviour, for example refusing to move forward or turning their heads away.
Accept without judgement
This can be a difficult one for us. Psychologists say our brains are wired to make judgements about people. We’re becoming more aware of our tendency towards unconscious bias, where we make judgements without realising based on things like appearance, race and age.
Horses, on the other hand, accept everyone without judging their appearance, status or anything else about them, apart from the way they make them feel. A great lesson for us all about actively trying to rein in (pun unintended) our natural urge to judge!
Be yourself and be authentic
In our new meeting space, we have a beautiful mural on the back wall. It contains two words: Be You.
We picked those two words because being yourself will help you immeasurably in both your personal and professional life.
There’s lot of little ways you can practice authenticity in your interactions with others. If it’s a work meeting, for example, genuinely sharing your passion for what you do is a great way to enhance connection with someone. Remember to show interest and encourage the other person to reciprocate with their own story.
It doesn’t take much to show someone appreciation for your interaction. A quick “it was really good to talk, I enjoyed hearing about you. Let’s stay in touch,” will go a long way.
Give as much as you receive
We’ve all had an uneven social interaction. Perhaps it was when talking to someone who glanced at their phone during the conversation or cast their eyes around the room to see who else was around.
And, on the other side, we may have been that person who feels the pressure to network with as many people as possible, rather than focus on being present and having meaningful connections.
Our leadership coaching with horses brings highlights the importance of presence, because if you’re not fully there the horse will let you know! Humans are not as obvious but being fully present for an interaction with someone is naturally going to lead to a more meaningful connection.
As a leader, it’s also worth thinking about making sure you’re giving your teams the tools to adapt back to working together. Perhaps long meetings or Friday night drinks in the office won’t work anymore? Can you think of new, different team bonding activities which might bring everyone together?
I’ve seen countless teams come through our doors and have seen first-hand the value of trying something a bit different!
What are your tips for connecting with people? Let us know in the comments.
If you’d like more information on our leadership coaching and how it can help your team reconnect, please comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org