The other day I was treating myself to my daily dose of green tea deliciousness at a local drive-thru. The friendly voice came through the speaker “Hi, welcome to Starbuck’s!” I replied, “Hi, how are you doin’ today?” The reply came back, “I’m a pterodactyl.” I laughed, “did you say you’re a pterodactyl?” We chuckled, and he went on to say that no one ever seemed to notice. At the window we agreed how little we really listen to one another. In fact, he said I was the only one of his customers to ever mention his dinosaur reply.
It’s fair to say, that because no one mentioned it, doesn’t necessarily mean no one heard it. However, it got me thinking how easy it is to dismiss everyday opportunities to really connect with people.
I regularly use email, text, Facebook and Twitter. It keeps me connected with long distance friends more easily, helps me coordinate with local friends more efficiently, and all are wonderful tools in business. Yet, while effective, I don’t find it particularly intimate.
There are some who would disagree. However, my experience is that because of our busy schedules and hectic lives, it has become far too easy to lower the bar on our need to truly connect on a human level. By human, I mean eye-ball to eye-ball…and, no...Skype doesn’t count!
How can I tell if I need a human infusion? Because I start to compulsively check my phone, emails, Twitter, etc… Why? Oftentimes, because loneliness has crept up on me, and I don’t even know it! And, the worst part is that we can live with family, roommates or spouses, and still have feelings of emptiness…which in some ways is worse, than having those pangs when living alone.
So, what’s the solution?
First of all…no shame! It’s human to feel lonely if we hit a patch of limited human connection. Secondly, notice loneliness for what it is. We can miss our need for true connection because we bridge the gap with technology, activity or other addictions. Thirdly, start looking people in the eyes (especially your loved ones) when you talk with them. It seems obvious, but, if you’re feeling disconnected, chances are your eyes bounce all over the place. And finally, expand your eye contact into a smile and spread the wealth wherever you go…especially if the person on the receiving end is a grouch…then they need you warmth even more!
Initially, you may be surprised how difficult these basic interactions can be. But, stick with it and before you know it, you might be “pterodactyl,” too!
Give it a go and let me know how it goes.
I’m in your corner…
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