By Susan Begeman Steiner
Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.
-- Brené Brown from The Gifts of Imperfection
What is more important to you – What you say to someone or how connected you are to the person to whom you’re talking? How often do you slow down and just be “present” with someone?
Quote from Kushandwizdom
When I travel from Zurich to Basel for work, I see about 1000 people in a day. I see them at the train stations and on the train, tram and bus and at the office. I am usually rushing through the train station, busy staying on schedule so I can get to my client’s office in time. Then on the train, I’m preparing for the meeting with my client and making sure I don’t end up on the wrong train or tram and end up in Germany somewhere (that has happened to me before). It is rare that I slow down on the trip and connect with anyone.
One notable exception has happened on the tram in Basel. There is a woman who stands in the tram and sings a lovely song for donations in a cup. She gets on at one stop, sings and then gets off at the next stop. I've seen her three times now. I watch her while she sings and often she sings just to me, I being the only person on the tram who is actually looking at her. I fish out coins and put them in her coffee cup when she walks by at the end of the song. Sometimes, except for my client, she is the only person I connect with on my whole trip. Well worth the money in the cup.
I make it a point to connect with my clients because I am a coach and that’s what we do. But I would guess that of all the people I pass on a day like that, I actually connect with fewer than 1% of them.
As Brené Brown says, connection is energy -- energy that passes between two people who see, hear and value each other. It takes a moment to sink into seeing, hearing and valuing another person. You must actually look at the other person. It happens for me when I take the time to look into someone’s eyes and ask myself, “Who’s in there?” In that moment it’s like when I was a kid knocking on a friend’s door asking if she can come out and play. I always feel a jolt of energy when I connect this way.
It’s such a simple thing really. Why don’t we do it more often?
When that connection energy is present, we can possibly move on to “giving and receiving without judgment” and “deriving sustenance and strength from the relationship.” But it starts with a slowing down to connect.
In the thousands of moments of life, those rare connections are quite precious. They remind us that we are not alone. By connecting, we can experience the deeper connection that binds us all together.
“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”
― William James