A really important part of meaningful living has to do with meaningful connections with others in our lives. We may spend a lot of time with family, friends, partners, co-workers, but the quality of these relationships really isn’t about how much time we spend together. In fact, you may have examples from your own life of old friends who you see once in a blue moon, yet it feels as though no time has passed when you get together. What makes these connections different? Making contact!
Making contact is the experience of really being present and open to connect with someone in conversation. It is a way of listening and relating that allows you to connect more effectively and more meaningfully with others.
Here are some tips for building up your Making Contact Muscles!Prepare: Before I meet with clients, I take a few minutes to clear some mental and emotional space in anticipation of the next conversation. It’s not a deep meditation, just a simple act of mentally getting ready. You can do the same thing, whether that’s just before a meeting with the boss, or meeting up with a friend for coffee. Clear yourself and/or the environment from unwanted distractions. Be present.
Arrive with Intention: This means to be intentional with yourself about making contact—that this is something you really want to do on your part. Think about it this way: how would you be approaching things if this were one of the most important conversations you will be having today? This week? This year? You don’t need to be dramatic—just place importance on it.
Open: Listening is the most under-rated relationship skill. People often have difficulty with listening when they begin to hear difference in views between themselves and the other person. But you can listen deeply and intently without necessarily agreeing or taking on the other person’s view. Remember, however someone else sees the world, it somehow makes total sense to them–given who they are, their previous experiences, and the way they have adapted to life. Hear something that triggers you? That’s human enough—it’s okay, just acknowledge how that is true for someone else and breathe through it! Your views and truths still belong to you.
Share: Are there important truths that you want to share with the other person? See if you can find ways to offer them in a way that the other person has the best chance of hearing (which is often different from a raw version from a reactive place inside ourselves).
Reflect: So, how did it go? What did you learn about yourself? The other person? Who will be the next person you make contact with?