Connection means many things to many people, and can change depending on the situation or the context at the time. It is a word that gets used a lot, and I'm hearing it more these days in business situations also. For example: "Leaders need to have connection with their teams". What does that mean? Does a morning chat and asking about their weekend constitute connection? Does it mean having one-to-one conversations of a deeper nature? Addressing all your team members in a meeting - might that also be connection? And if so, how do you know there has been a connection?
It is my opinion that we use "connection" way too often in relation in situations where, rather than connection, we may have merely had a communication exchange. That is, I have talked to you, you have responded, I came away thinking we'd connected. We make the assumption that because we felt a connection that the other person felt the same way.
In the words of Preethaj, co-founder of O&O Academy, "Connection occurs when you feel the other AND feel felt by the other"
Take a moment and pause to reflect on that quotation. It goes pretty deep.
What Preethaji is saying is for true connection, it is not enough for one to simply feel connected to the other. It has to be each ultimately feeling felt by the other. Anything less is not connection,it is merely an interaction between two people.
Let's look at an example. Ruth has just received a phone call with some tragic news. Jeff goes to talk to her to provide some support and comfort. After some moments, he leaves and mentions to a colleague that he'd had a good conversation with Ruth and had felt really connected to her and her sadness. In Preethaji's words, Jeff had felt Ruth's sadness. Does that constitute connection, or was it just an interaction? To know, we need to look at Ruth's experience.
Let's look at two possible situations. Firstly, the moment Jeff approached Ruth, all she wanted was to be allowed to sit in her own silence and allow the news to sink in. She didn't want anyone around her. Jeff's approach, while well-meaning, felt intrusive to Ruth.
The second situation is that when Jeff approached and talked to Ruth, she felt a wave of calmness come over her, and she had felt how caring Jeff was towards her.
In the first example, while Jeff told his colleague he'd felt a connection with Ruth, it would seem he was oblivious to how she was feeling, and she most certainly didn't feel any connection to Jeff.
In the second example, Jeff felt the connection with Ruth, and Ruth also felt Jeff's care and concern for her. This is the experience of Connection that Preethaji talks about in her quote.
While I am not going to suggest we expunge 'connection' from our vocabulary, I am going to suggest we start thinking harder about when we use it. Each time I catch myself saying "I felt so connected to ..", I try and stop and silently ask myself "was it a connection, or merely an interaction?" The more I have been doing this, the more I start to see the real difference between the two states. What's more, I start truly seeing the other, picking up on silent ques or certain wordings.
How do you know when you've been felt by the other? The knowing will come in many different forms, but you will be left in no doubt that you were felt by the other. You will not need to ask the question. You Will Know
© 2021 Gael Gordon Ltd