The kind promise I am working with this month is “I will build, nurture, and celebrate connections.”

I often feel shy and awkward around people. This promise is an invitation to remind myself how I want to reach out.

In earlier years, I came up with the acronym ALTAR. It stands for
Arrive – show up and let go of any baggage I am bringing to this moment.
Listen – to what the other person is saying.
Touch-shake hands or otherwise make a gentle contact. (I no longer can physically do that.)
Affirm – let them know what I appreciate about them.
Respond – be honest and open about who I am.

Here are some new thoughts about the “arrive and listen” part of any encounter:

When I am with another, I want to show up without expectations or assumptions. I want to give this moment, this encounter, this person a fresh start.

I am thinking about how, in meditation, I realize I’m thinking and bring my attention back to the sensation of the breath. Instead of the breath, I want to place my attention on the person in front of me and be curious about them.

I want to be aware of their body positioning and how they look and sound, What questions might I ask? How are they feeling? What are they thinking? What is life like for them? I don’t want to interrogate, but I want to seek to understand.

I want to remember my active listening skills. Listen carefully, reflect what I hear, and double check to make sure I’m understanding as completely as I can.

This focus and attention, it seems to me, is an important part of building relationship.

It’s nice to have this promise as a reminder to consider and improve my interpersonal skills each year.

In your journal, write about:

  • the beginnings of a good friendship
  • a time you felt really listened to
  • how do you want to show up for people?