“Social connections” work much the same way. We can share space with other people without really getting “plugged in.” For a social interaction to work, two or more people need to be “plugged in!”
There are many choices people make to “plug in” to form valuable connections with others. Here are just a few:
- Joining activities with others, whether eating at the same table, playing on the same playground equipment, participating on a team or in a book club, working on a staff (whether volunteer or paid), providing services, etc.
- Smiling! This shows interest in others, but also helps a person to be viewed as “approachable,” which makes effective connections more likely.
- Being aware of physical space, moving closer to a person or group to indicate interest and to facilitate effective connections.
- Using eye contact to establish a connection, show interest, and to monitor and respond to what the other person or people are thinking, feeling, or doing.
- Asking questions, which shows interest in others, but also gives them a chance to participate in the interaction.
- Answering questions, which also shows interest in others, and gives a person an opportunity to provide additional input to the interaction.
So what’s the value in connecting with other people? My “tree analogy” indicates that every person needs to be growing personally and interpersonally throughout their lifetime. The four components of that are “nourishing, growing, connecting, and contributing.” None of those can be accomplished without the skills and opportunities to make effective connections with others. Those connections help us to get our needs met, learn and grow, and share our gifts (time, knowledge and information, friendship, money, etc.) with others!
Best wishes as you continue to “get plugged in” and to benefit from (and help others benefit from) your effective social connections!