How we behave has a huge impact on the quality of our connection with both self and others. In this post, I am going to explore two classes of behaviors: those that deepen connection and those that tend to bust connection wide open.
Let’s start by making a list of some of those behaviors:
Behaviors That Impact Connection
This list is just the beginning. How many behaviors can you add to each column?
Let’s do a thought exercise. Scan the behaviors in the first column… the ones that deepen connection. For each behavior, recall a time when you were with someone who demonstrated that behavior. How did you feel about that person? Did their behavior make you want to connect more deeply with them or did you want to pull away?
Now scan the second column, the connection busting behaviors. Again, recall a time when someone was defensive or judging. How did you feel as you experienced their behavior? Take a look at each of these connection busting behaviors and see if you can put a person’s face on each behavior. Can you remember a specific friend who was unreliable, deceitful, unconscious or arrogant?
Which of the connection busting behaviors had the most impact on you? Were there any that caused you to want to get away from that person as quickly as you could?
Now I am going to ask that you take a deep breath and scan the list again, but this time, ask how often you demonstrate one of these behaviors. Notice whether any fear comes up as you hear this question. If you have any critical self-judgments come up, just take a breath and notice your reaction. Don’t do anything else but simply notice your reaction.
As you scan the list of connection busting behaviors, pick the three that you can acknowledge as your most common “go-to” behaviors. Recall a situation where you demonstrated one of these behaviors. What was the outcome of that experience? Did the person (or people) involved lean into or lean away from those behaviors? Did they help or hurt connection? What was your intention regarding this person or these people? Did you want to connect more deeply with them or did you want to bust connection?
If your intention was to push them away, you succeeded; however, my guess is that you wanted to connect, but instead you pushed them away… simply with a behavior. If that is true for you, let’s figure out what needs to shift?
It could be that all you need to do is pay attention to your intention when meeting with people. If you become conscious of your intention to connect and demonstrate behaviors that deepen connection, you will find yourself connecting more deeply. It may be that simple… or maybe not.
Here is a more complete view. Your Behaviors (what others experience from you) are driven by your:
- Beliefs – the thoughts in your head that you think are true;
- Emotions – the energetic feelings in your body that often reflect your beliefs;
- Defenses – the protection mechanisms that you employ to maintain your illusion of safety;
- Shadows – the dark parts of your psyche that you may still be unconscious of but which have a huge impact on how you think, feel, react and behave;
If you really want to connect more deeply, you may need to take a correspondingly deep look at each of these aspects of your psyche. For example, how do your beliefs impact connection? Your beliefs will trigger your emotions which may in turn trigger one of your defenses. If you have strongly held Christian religious beliefs, how comfortable are you sitting down with a Muslim, a Buddhist or a Hare Krishna? If a Hare Krishna believer starts to sing, “Hare Krishna”, , do any feelings or judgments arise? Do you want to engage and tell him (or her) that they are wrong? Or can you simply get curious and say something like, “I know nothing about your religion. Could you please tell me more about what Hare Krishna followers believe?”
So an important piece of connecting deeply is your willingness to look deeply within yourself and see clearly what you believe, how you feel and when your defenses have been activated, and then make a conscious choice to suspend judgment and get curious.
One other thing you could do is attend my ConneXions Intensive Workshop where we will dive deeply into the Five Potholes that you must manage and the Five Disciplines that you will want to develop that will most likely bring you deeper and far more authentic connection.