Are you feeling connected? Lately, I have found myself singing One Republic’s song, Connection. “Oh, can I get a connection? Can I get, can I get a connection?” I am an introvert. I’m okay being by myself. I need alone time to re-energize. However, here’s what I have learned. That doesn’t mean I don’t need connection. We all need connection.
One of my favorite authors and storytellers is Brene Brown. She often shares that connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. It’s not just about being linked to someone or how you communicate with others. She defines connection as “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.” That’s powerful stuff.
When was the last time you really let someone know that you see them, hear them and value them? That you withheld judgment? That you ensured the other person felt sustained and received strength from the relationship? Now is the time.
Here’s the thing. Connection will look different for everyone. There may be some days you don’t want to connect. That’s fine too. You get to make the rules for you.
Connection with Others
People want to be heard.
My niece is a college senior and recently discovered that not only has her graduation been postponed but her senior year on campus is over. Because this decision was made during Spring Break, she did not get to say goodbye to her roommates and friends in person. She is grieving. Although the first instinct might be to say things to her like “at least your graduation was postponed and not canceled” or “other people are experiencing worse things in their life”, that is not what she needs right now. For those who are feeling a loss, validate that what is happening to them really stinks, give them space to feel all the feelings, and let them know you hear them. They will move on but first, they need a moment.
You still need your tribe.
I set up online calls with women I find inspiring only to check in and give each other encouragement. Also, I have made a commitment to myself that I will connect with at least two people daily. This could be a family member or friend who I’m thinking about, someone who I know is alone or might be struggling, or it could be someone I have not talked to in a long time. I have had many hour-long calls recently really getting to hear how someone is doing and what has been going on in their life. A luxury that I did not feel like I could take before when life was moving at warp speed. It doesn’t always have to be a phone call. Sometimes it’s a text letting them know I’m thinking about them and am available if they want to talk. Who needs to hear from you?
Go “old school”.
I have always been a greeting card person. I love to send cards. Lately, I’ve tried to think of who would really appreciate a card showing up in the mail. Like my aunt who is in a care facility or a friend who is wheelchair-bound. When I was young, I had pen pals. I remember the excitement of getting a letter in the mail and would keep and re-read those letters. Who do you know who would appreciate a card or letter?
Leaders step up.
What a great opportunity for leaders to show that it’s not just about numbers. It’s also about people. Now more than ever team members need to feel connected to their leader. That employee who is still rocking out the results, have you told them you value them? That team member who is getting the work done while keeping the house clean and keeping themselves and others safe, have you asked them how they are doing and really listened to the answer? Your team needs you.
This post is sponsored by Neely Coaching & Training
Connection with family
Life hasn’t stopped.
Birthdays are still happening. Children still need attention. Family, whether near or far, is still important. Celebrations and family time do not need to stop. Use facetime or apps like Zoom or Skype to get everyone together to sing happy birthday, read a book to a child, or have a sing-along. Write inspirational notes on the bathroom mirrors.
Although there will be times everyone needs their space, resist the urge to hibernate and not interact. My sister’s family got inspired by the tv show Chopped and had a cooking contest. Craft a miniature golf course in your house. Record a video of your pet to share. How can you think outside of the box to stay connected and have some fun?
Connection with yourself
When was the last time you were still and were able to get clarity and focus? A study at the University of Virginia chronicled in The Atlantic looked at how easy it was for people to entertain themselves with their own thoughts for six to fifteen minutes. Participants were wired to shock themselves during the thinking period if desired. Even though they all had a chance to try out the device to see how painful it was, a quarter of the women and two-thirds of the men gave themselves a zap. They preferred electric shocks to being alone with their thoughts. It’s not always comfortable. It may not be what we are used to doing. Take time to reflect, muse, ponder, meditate, journal – whatever feels right to you.
Focus on a goal.
Having goals to focus on has helped to give me purpose and structure. I have set goals for my health. Being intentional about what I’m eating, drinking more water, making sure I’m moving, how much time I am spending on social media. All of that has helped me to feel better physically and mentally. I have been writing a book with two friends and we have worked with our editor to use this extra time we have right now to accomplish tasks in a short time frame to get the book finished. What is a goal that you could set to help you focus and be intentional?
Find the joy.
Wake up each day and look for joy. Maybe it’s a cup of coffee, taking a walk, dancing like no one’s watching or a tv show that makes you laugh. It’s there.
Remember, that although it may not feel like it, you have choices. You can choose to take care of yourself. Choose to see, hear and value others. You can choose joy every day. Most importantly, you can choose to connect.
Debby Neely is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation who specializes in leadership coaching and facilitation. Her business, Neely Coaching & Training, supports both formal and informal leaders in realizing their potential and in getting results. Their mission is to help you be the best you can be.