Make Connecting with People a Top Priority in this Thing Called "Life"
Lately I have found myself disappointed with friends, family, and colleagues. Why? My answer is two-fold.
1. Staying in contact with people is a thing of the past.
2. There is a lack of effort on taking action to help others.
Let me start by reflecting on a few thoughts I'm assuming you are having right now. (If you have other thoughts, please share them)
- Yes, I know people are busy. Who isn't?
- I'm disappointed because connection with others is important, for all of us. It's why we were created.
Sidebar: When I was 21 years old, I wanted to be a psychologist. When I found out it would take at least seven years to finish schooling to counsel someone, I added up the years and couldn't fathom being 28 years old and just finishing college. Yes, I laugh at that now.
With that said, my first tendency is to figure out why people do or don't do certain things, but instead, I've chosen to focus on sharing a few things I do which I feel are important to ensuring we are all genuinely connecting with someone.
- Call someone on the phone you haven't connected with in a long time. Spying on your friends and their activities through Facebook and Instagram and texting them gifs does not count as connecting. Call them, let them talk, listen to them, tell them you want to stay in better contact, and schedule a next call if need be. If you feel overwhelmed by this, set a reminder or task on your cell phone or in your e-mail to prompt you to call. Be intentional. If you wait until you have a spare moment, that moment is not coming and when it does, you'll want that spare moment for yourself. Also, don't call someone from a baby shower or while you're vacuuming, or trying to do anything of the sort. It shows the recipient that you're not genuinely trying to connect; you're just "fitting them in" when and where you can.
- Send someone a card snail mail letting them know you're thinking of them. Sending an e-mail or a text doesn't cut it these days as they both get buried with the millions of others being received.
- If someone asks you for help, help them to the best of your ability. If someone doesn't ask you for help but you feel you can help them, offer a hand. If someone is asking you for help, they genuinely respect you. They trust you. If you don't help or even acknowledge the help request and communicate with the asker, you could be putting that trust in jeopardy. Has someone asked you to introduce them to someone you know? Has someone asked you to write them a professional recommendation? Do it.
- Let others challenge you. Challenge others. In a loving way of course. How great is it to have healthy relationships to be able to do this? This is how we grow. This is how we see different perspectives than those that are in our "bubble". This is how we create goals for ourselves.
- Be vulnerable. This is the toughest by far. Both women and men have been taught since childhood to not be vulnerable, but it's so vital to having genuine relationships. Our friends and family need to see we're not perfect and that we don't have it all together. Start with baby steps. I'll send out a broadcast when I have this conquered:)
- Take a "tech time out" in order to fully engage with those around you. I did that this weekend. It was hard because we rely on our phones for everything including driving directions, but I did the best I could. It was great and I felt I was fully attentive for what I needed to be. I wasn't multi-tasking trying to get a million things done. I was fully engaged in the moment and I plan to do this more often.
- "We should get together" should be a meaningful statement and not just something that flies out of your mouth when you don't know what to say. Mean it. And honestly, if you didn't mean it, you should still hold yourself accountable for what you said you would do.
Disclaimer: Written from a Generation X perspective.