How to connect

 

Building relationship is a “thing” now, a mantra within the networking, management and leadership circles. And rightly so. Seeking to build relationships honors our humanity, we are more than conduits engaging in mere exchange of insights and information, time and money and the cost-benefit analysis of these currencies.

We cannot build relationships unless we learn how to connect.

And the essence of real connection which we find so appealing, supportive, enriching and rewarding is intimacy. Intimacy is the glue that binds people. Without it, any connection is barren, void of the positive meaning.

But what is intimacy? It is a close, familiar and affectionate personal relationship with another and it arrives in different ways. We may have cognitive or intellectual intimacy with another with the sharing of ideas, visions, viewpoints, dreams and hopes. We may have experiential intimacy as we do work, however defined, together. We may also have emotional intimacy where feelings are shared between two or more people and our emotional needs are met or affirmed. And we have sexual intimacy which involves the sharing of sensual expression. This would include for example, the person whom we share our epicurean or creative interests.

There are many ways through which we develop intimacy in our professional life and connect.

And which comes first? Do we connect to enable intimacy to grow? Or is intimacy a prerequisite to connection? Instead of a linear cause-and-effect correlation, the relationship between intimacy and connection is reflexive.

Intimacy and connection are deliberate and conscious processes.

We must be willing to explore, to be interested in another’s life, to be present and available to them. Most importantly, we must be real. And we have to give it time to develop.

Hold new interactions lightly, watch it and see where it will grow. Let go of preconceived notions of how, what and why. Not every interaction becomes positive connection.

So how do we connect?

Be open and sociable. This does not mean be naive and gullible. It does however mean you do not approach every person you meet as a threat. Keep your head, open your heart.

Be authentic. Show who you really are. Stop being so guarded. It may feel vulnerable but my experience has been that most people are happy to receive the real you. Few people are out to harm.

Maintain your values. People with whom you connect will be those who share a certain ‘thing’ with you; this ‘thing’ which calls to you are underpinned by your values. Be yourself. Be honest.

In this endeavour of building relationships especially as a leader, let us be gentle, kind and respectful.

Which of us would refuse a genuine connection? On this premise, building relationship need not feel like an unsurpassable challenge.

~ FlorenceT

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2018

A mindful approach

Life is change. I know this. Even the reliable turns of the seasons do not go as expected, do they? If we are to see, there is beauty in the everyday minutiae of change.

And I believe in progress, less of the advancement of human enterprise, rather of the mindful approach to our human experience

  • towards greater awareness of who we are in the worlds we inhabit, whether personal or professional,
  • towards greater connection to these worlds,
  • towards greater understanding of our impact on them,

and to these, I have unwittingly been seduced since a young age, fuelled by an insatiable curiosity.

It is a beautiful seduction, though not necessarily easy or without pain.

This mindful approach requires an open mind and a vulnerable heart. And I am not without the scars to prove them.

The greater awareness to life also requires us to let go of the past and our ideas of the future, to have the willingness to be present without judgment and to see the world afresh. The wonder and intrigue that come our way when we allow ourselves to experience them.

Put aside the critical thoughts based on a past conditioning of what the future should be.

My daughter recently sang in a concert and for the first time, she did so in her school uniform. It was a school day after all. I remember when she eschewed the idea of changing from her school uniform, judgment flooded my mind questioning her dedication to her craft and fear that she wouldn’t be taken seriously.  This lasted for a brief moment then I let those thoughts go. These are unwarranted worries and anxieties. My mind has always been an incredible trickster.

Her performance that evening was her best so far, for she captivated with her voice and composure, expressing her emotions from within. I looked around the room, and saw an audience rapt with attention, spellbound by her haunting rendition of “Burn” from the musical “Hamilton”. It seems she had developed a confidence grounded within herself; a fragile bubble at times for creative people. I am truly grateful that I did not prod at it with my unruly thoughts. To trust the process and let things unfold is not easy, but do-able.

Not all things change however… at least not at the speed or time that we expect them to. It is our expectation then which creates disappointment, hurt and pain.

Hope is present, expectation is merely a conditioned thought.

Expectations interfere with our connection to the world, for it is because of our fear for the myriad of unmet expectations – that our love will be betrayed, our vulnerability will be shamed, our curiosity mocked – that we distance ourselves from being alive in the moment to our work and relationships.

Identify a destination by all means, chart our course and trust that we have the capacity to undertake the journey. We do. Planning may be useful, but the fixation with each manoeuvre will inhibit our adaptability to change.

A mindful approach requires us to employ our senses in each moment, untainted by the past. Memories, “good or bad”, have their uses; we may not forget but we sure don’t need to be ruled by them.

Being mindful in a changing world requires trust, in ourselves and the unfolding life.

Each moment is a new moment.

 

~ FlorenceT

© Transfigure Therapy 2017

Finding balance

 

Time is no longer the arbiter for what is ‘work’ and what is ‘family’ or ‘leisure’. The demand, and the rationale, for flexible work practice is on the rise.

Peter Hirst, Associate Dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management states,

“Employers need to address these burdens not by seeing how time at work can be more enjoyable, but by identifying the ways that work requirements make life less manageable …”

and recommends the creation of support infrastruture as key, which includes prioritising inter-office communication.

“…it’s important to consider life outside the office walls and recognize that professionals with healthy and happy personal lives come to work with productive, positive attitudes.”

For more, see Hirst’s article on Entrepreneur.