Wanting connection

I believe all humans long for connection with other humans.
Tragically, we are too good at doing things that kill connection – blaming (as you saw last post), judging, not listening, being absent, projecting, being scared and self-protective etc.

Conscious communication

One of the major areas you can work on to overcome these tendencies and experience real and meaningful connection is communication. Being conscious of what you are feeling, what you are trying to express. What sensations are going on in your body right now? What do you want? What’s your intent?
The answers to all of these questions arise from your self-awareness in the present moment.

Relate more, control less

Susan Campbell in her book, Getting Real emphasises the need to approach communicating with the intent to relate more and control less. This involves being transparent – sharing your thoughts, sensations and feelings – as well as welcoming feedback. ‘Feedback’ does not equate with judgements or evaluations, but literally what the other person experiences in response, as in, ‘I feel really sad when I hear that’, or ‘That lights me up inside when you say that’. This helps establish a shared space of communication, allowing for real connection.

So much of our communication begins on the defensive: we package, hide, manipulate in order to get what we want, get across our point, or ‘make’ the other person understand how we’re feeling. Even if we seem to succeed in getting what we want from such an approach, we rarely get what we really want:
to be heard, to be seen, to be received, to have meaningful connection with others.

Curiosity is key

As for being on the receiving end of communication, how often are you captivated, totally present and interested in what someone is saying? If you’re not, this may be because the person who’s speaking to you is falling into some of the traps mentioned at the start. But communication is a two-way flow. How present are you? How curious are you? Are you asking questions and giving feedback to open up and deepen the connection? Or are you judging, evaluating, criticising and defending your own position, even if silently?

I recently revealed a very intimate experience I had to a friend, and was disappointed when their response was all about them – why they could never do that, why it wasn’t for them, what they believed etc. No actual receiving or honouring of what I had vulnerably shared. And sadly no curiosity about what the experience was like for me. It’s shocking to witness how much we lack curiosity about each other’s experiences, life and feelings.
We miss out on so much richness as a result of not being curious!

Making small talk meaningful

I love real and meaningful conversations. I find people endlessly fascinating when they’re truly revealing their unique selves. On the other hand, I find small talk endlessly boring and avidly avoid social situations where I’m going to have to engage in it.

I found myself at a social engagement though the other night when a colleague pleasantly proved me wrong. I watched her with several different people, engaging them fully with her presence and eye contact, and asking each of them questions about themselves in an authentically curious and heartfelt way. I was captivated to see how the people she spoke with just opened up in this space. This was no longer ‘small talk’ but the real and meaningful connections I was looking for.

The moral of the story:
there’s always a place for curiosity and being totally present with someone when communicating with them, whether your corner store owner or your best friend.

What about you?

I’d love to hear of experiences when you’ve felt really connected with someone as a result of consciously communicating with them and what helped you. And if you want to receive more heartfelt guidance on various self-development topics plus some great free resources on relationships, sign up here to my e-list.



2 replies
  1. Khali
    Khali says:

    Great post Emma. I too believe we all long for connection. The meaning of feedback you describe below is very different to the common conception. I like this definition as it has us meaningfully sharing our response to each, which I think really facilitates connection. I too can really relate about not receiving curiosity from people. I am very curious of people and love how much it lights them up to receive this. A lot of the time I’m happy with this, though sometimes I’d really like people to return the favour. On reflection, I think this is something I can ask for more.

    I’ve been having lots of experiences connecting with people. I feel really inspired as I do this more. A find that as I take a risk to share myself vulnerably, most of the time the pay off is huge. I find myself feeling seen and really seeing another person. As I reveal myself energy is released, I feel more alive and I know myself more. It’s not all easy though. I’ve found myself in some conflict and am realising that, if we stay with it and open, that conflict can transform us.

  2. Emma Swan
    Emma Swan says:

    Hi Khali, thanks so much for sharing your personal experiences, reflections and insight. It’s great to how inspired you feel and how much you’re gaining from connecting meaningfully with people. There’s really nothing like being seen and seeing another person!


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