One thing we don’t lack in this world are WAYS to connect. Many people, however, lack CONNECTION. In 2018, Cigna did a study that revealed 54% of Americans in the survey reported feeling lonely. Only one year later, in 2019, that number rose to 61%– that’s 3 in 5 Americans.
Even before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the internet was a key enabler of connection. We joined groups through social media, chatted with friends through chat apps and even attended religious services online. Since the pandemic started in March, we’ve gotten even more creative about how to connect online. I’ve attended virtual happy hours, painting classes and networking meetings. If you have access to the internet, as 9 in 10 Americans do today, you can connect.
But, are you connected? Here are three ways to strengthen your connectedness and take it to a higher level to have a greater impact on you and the world around you.
Evaluate your intention
There is power in having an intention when it comes to connecting. Examples of intentions could be: I want to learn, to support someone else, to laugh, to begin a friendship or to identify how we can help each other. With a specific intention, you can be more purposeful in terms of the “what” you’re talking about and the commitments you make as a result of the connection. Without an intention, you may become tired and frustrated with the process of connecting because you’re not doing so with any desired outcome for you and the other person.
Strive for transformation not transaction
I was having a conversation recently with a couple of friends on this topic of connection. My friend Sean observed that connecting to transact is different than connecting to transform. Think about that. Are you checking a box when you have that Zoom meeting? If you don’t know why you’re meeting and can’t identify a positive outcome as a result of it, chances are you’re transacting, not transforming.
How do you know if you’re striving for transformation in your connections? Go back to step one…consider whether you had an intention for that meeting. If not, how would having a specific desired outcome have impacted the quality of the interaction?
To transform is to change in condition, nature, or character. So, has something shifted in me or the other person as a result of the connection? Have I learned something, thought about something differently or plan to behave in a new way because of the interaction? That’s transformative.
Assess your energy
Lastly, take a look at your energy level–both before you connect and after. What do you notice? If you’re noticing a low level of energy when it comes to your connections, go back to #1 and #2 above. Evaluate your intentions and strive for transformation, not just transactions. When you are intent about those things, does your energy change? Connections and connectedness should energize us, not drain the battery.
In a world where we can be connected 24/7, are we experiencing connections that enhance our life and the lives of those around us? If not, consider disconnecting from your current ways of connecting in order to create meaningful relationships–we need those more than ever!