Learning to Connect
Throughout the past week, I worked on today’s post on a few occasions. All the while, not feeling great about where the article was heading or how it would shape up. The last time I plugged away, I finished what I considered to be just an average writing sample. Part of me said, ‘you’re there, it’s finished.’ The other part of me left me revisiting this post and the video associated with it.
Each week, I want to be engaged with my readers. In finding a way to connect with them via the topic of choice. If I have failed to create that connection, then it is difficult to make it personal. So, the original (yes first draft) post for today ended with this, ‘When you ask, you connect. And when you connect, people want to help.’
Then it hit me. That is the purpose of Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk on ‘The Art of Asking”. In all walks of life, we must learn to connect with others. In establishing a connection with someone else, there is a bond like none other that can’t be replaced. So, I knew it – if I left today’s post how it was the first go around, I would have been remiss in connecting with the audience of readers. Now, it’s Sunday morning and I’ve started anew because I value the ability to build relationships with others.
The Importance of Connecting
Have you ever felt the need to ask someone for help? The only problem is that you were afraid, timid at best. You weren’t sure how to ask, or how the person you would ask would respond to your inquiry? Did it ever don on you that if you have truly connected with that person, then they are going to understand?
Whether in search of help, asking for advice, or even asking for a sale in your job – my experiences tell me that the most success occurs when you have connected with the person on the other side of the table.
Imagine an elementary student, struggling with addition and subtraction. The little boy so badly wants to better understand numbers, but he is afraid to ask. If his teacher has not found an avenue upon which to make the little boy feel comfortable, then there is a high probability the boy will never ask for help.
At home, does your family life seem disjointed? Have you had meaningful conversation with your spouse and kids lately? Have your conversations progressed from, ‘my day was good, how was yours’? When is the last time your prodded and poked to better understand how you can be a better husband/wife, mom/dad?
Think about a time when you have struggled in your faith life. A time when you wrestled with the question, “Why is this happening to me?” I’m not trying to push my faith values on anyone, but when is the last time you truly connected with God? Was it the last time something unfortunate happened in your life? Or was it this morning when you woke up and said to yourself, “Today is going to be a great day!”
Does your career call on you to interact with customers and clients? Have you ever struggled in progressing the business relationship to the next level? Did you take the time to be personal, to engage in meaningful conversation? When is the last time you showed the other person you truly cared?
The list of examples could continue, but I feel this is the point that Amanda makes in her speech. There is an obligation to connect with others. As long as you and I expect others to do something, or give something to us, without us having connected with them; then we open up doors for resistance and rejection. Open minds and open hearts express a need to serve and a need to care, both ideas which lead us to connect.
How to Connect
One of the biggest hidden themes in this video (in my opinion) is what it takes to connect with another individual. How do you build the relationship? What does it take to make that person feel comfortable enough to provide you with what you are asking?
Amanda discusses coming down from the pedestal. Putting yourself at eye level the people you ask for help; it allows you to be viewed as an equal, not a superior. It exudes a genuineness that you welcoming the other to engage with you. This step requires curiosity to know more, deliberate intention to help (serve), and a love for sharing (connecting) with others.
Continue to be curious by asking questions. Build relationships through loving and caring. Honor your commitment to others. Through engaging in these three tasks, connecting takes place. And as you connect on a deeper level, you can ask for more and will receive more. So, I’ll close this article with the same way I closed the first draft. When you ask, you connect. When you connect, people want to help.
My challenge this week is to connect with someone new. Make yourself vulnerable. Probe them with questions. Listen to their responses. Feel the connection taking place and continually grow it!