Kind promise: I will build, nurture and celebrate connections.
And here I sit with 100 stories lining up in defense of the idea that I don’t have time for people. My constellation of character defects – the addictions to productivity and perfectionism, the insistence that I am an introvert – seem to pile up to convince me I do better without other people. “You’re not good with people,” the voices say. “Better to play with your strengths. Play with words. Make art. Keep your distance. Everybody is happier that way.”
I realize that I’m dealing with addictive behaviors. I realize that the voices are lying. Good work! Now what?
I just rewrote my recent “delights of the day” focusing on connecting. Authentic connection happens when I talk with people about what they’re feeling: grief, frustration, hopes. When I retreat into Getting Things Done I deprive myself and the other of true connection. Without emotions, we are just flapping our gums at each other.
Long, long ago, when I was first learning to be a counselor, they taught us how to talk to someone in a way that moved the conversation into emotional content. When done clumsily, this results in the “how does that make you feel?” response. More skillfully, it’s about picking up nonverbal cues and verbal subtleties and slowing down enough to spend time there.
I just spent about 20 minutes with Google and discovered that “emotional engagement” is an important catchphrase in marketing, education… The list goes on. Current wisdom seems to be:
1. emotions are important, so
2. pay attention to them and
3. “sculpt” them when possible
I don’t want to be manipulative (or manipulated). I want to approach every encounter with my heart open and make a heart-to-heart connection. Words from Tommy come to mind: