Are You Connecting?
Connecting with people has to do with distance and proximity. When you connect with a person, it means that at some level inside of you, you have decided to have some kind of proximity with that person. On the other hand, when you do not connect it means that you keep people at a distance, being it a conscious decision or not.
To connect in a meaningful way with a person, the first thing that needs to happen – before you actually start a conversation – is for you to decide that the conversation is not going to be about you. It is going to be about the other person. You need to be willing to put the other person first and at the center. Particularly if you know that often situations, conversations and contexts revolve around you. What you want to make sure of is that you are set on a “it is not about me and what I do” mode. This is the first condition from which the connection depends upon.
Everything else is a consequence of this first attitude.
If you enter a conversation and start immediately to establish who you are, how good you are, how important and successful you are, how great, smart, fast you are, how many opportunities you have or have created for yourself, and how much you can contribute to those close to you, well, it does not matter how amazing you are, because you have already put up a barrier between you and the other person. Your ego has entered the conversation, not you! And your ego has not even seen the person in front of you, which has become suddenly a simple recipient for those information.
If you want to connect with a person on a different level, which is deeper, more personal and/or intimate, you need to change. This ego-centered approach might be an instinctive and automatic mode of connection for you, but to connect at a different level you need to disengage from it. You need to make a conscious decision to set as your goal not to start a conversation talking about yourself, but beginning instead by focusing on the other person, asking a question to the other person about herself and/or her world, and then listen to the answer.
And then look at her, look at her eyes, observe her gestures, her tone of voice. Observe her body, how she moves, how she sits. Acknowledge what she says by restating it; verify what you are understanding by asking about it.
Remember: it is not about you, and even if you think you understand and know better, this is not the point.
The point is to give the other person the opportunity to open up, to share her story, her feelings, her experience, no matter how simple, complex, painful or joyful. It is not about something you want to hear. It is about being ‘there’, staying ‘there’ where the other person (the one you care enough about to be with) is taking you. It is not about the content of the conversation. It is about the listening process. It is about letting her be, express, say, show you who she is. Stay focus on her, on what she is choosing to talk about.
If you do this, it means you are forgetting about yourself and now you are totally immerse in her. You are in her world, you are connecting right there, in that very moment. By forgetting yourself you are fully there listening and embracing her and her world. And now it is really not about you and it is not even about her. Now it is the connection that is actually happening, and what is said is in the backdrop. What is happening in the forefront is the building of that platform upon which you will continue creating and building your relationship – any meaningful relationship you choose to create, being it a business relationship, a friendship, a loving and/or intimate relationship.
Listening and creating this listening space is the first step to connecting. Practice it every time you meet someone and your life will begin to transform.