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How to Avoid the Disconnection Epidemic

How to Avoid the Disconnection Epidemic

reflection

    Reflection on disconnection

    In 2009 we are indeed a global community infected by disconnection. On many levels and in many ways. And as a planet and as a tribe living on that planet, it’s safe to say that the Disconnection Epidemic is killing us. Or perhaps should I say, we’re killing us. Metaphorically and literally. Just take a look around at the consequences of our global disconnected-ness. You and I live in a time when mankind is hemorrhaging on many levels; physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually and environmentally, and yet despite our condition, we seem to be resistant to learning. We have managed to both progress and regress at the same time. Quite the achievement. It seems that the more educated, informed and  equipped we become (as a population), the more selfish, short-sighted, illogical and destructive we become also. For a species which regards itself as the intellectual superior to all others, we have an amazing knack for stupidity and irrational behaviour. I don’t know of any other species that has the ability to wreak havoc on it’s own kind like we Homo Sapiens do. Modern Man; what an ironic term. If only the dolphins were running the show. Not only are we seeing disconnection between individuals in homes, schools and workplaces but also on a much larger scale, between cultures, countries, religions, generations, governments, political groups and so on. And no, I’m not talking about normal healthy ideological, philosophical, theological and political differences here, I’m talking about large-scale attitudes, choices and behaviours that continue to create division, devastation, destruction and mass disconnection.

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    When I’m the boss of the world, I’ll address it.

    Until then…

    That may take a while, so in the mean time… what can you and I do to create a greater level of connection with the inhabitants of our own little cosmos? Of course we probably won’t create a global shift or be the genesis for some kind of cosmic awakening in the next week or two (although… ), but in the interim there’s a bunch of stuff you and I can do to create a much greater level of connection, understanding and harmony with those lucky enough to be in our own personal orbit.

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    Talking with, not at

    While there are many variables that will impact on and affect the kind of connection we do or don’t create with the people in our own atmosphere, there is no more important “connection tool” than that of effective communication. And as obvious and fundamental as this sounds, it is often our inability to communicate effectively with those in our world (family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and even strangers) which lies at the core of the disconnected reality that so many of us inhabit. Effective communication happens when we have a genuine desire to connect with people in a meaningful and productive manner. For too many of us, talking regularly equates to neither communication nor connection. Some people want to create a deeper level of communication, understanding and connection, while others simply want to talk at people and massage their ego. Ever seen what happens in parliament? Gold. Talking at people will create disconnection while talking with people will create connection – or at the very least, open the door on a healthier and more productive relationship. One is all about being heard and imposing one’s thoughts, ideas, beliefs and will, while the other is all about listening, understanding, empathising and of course, creating connection.

    Here are some no-brainer “connectors”…

    1. Work to build trust and respect. If there’s no trust or respect there can be no real connection. What often appears to be connection is in fact acting and/or manipulation on one person’s part. Simulated rapport I call it. We learn this kind of stuff in basic retail sales training. It’s not connection; it’s role-playing.
    2. Ask the right kind of questions. Ask questions that will generate meaningful dialogue; open-ended questions, not yes-no questions. Ask questions which demonstrate that you’re interested in what the other person has to say.
    3. Work to increase your awareness and to become an active listener. If you are serious about creating connection with someone then give them one hundred percent of your attention in that moment. Yep; all of it. Don’t be anywhere else (mentally). This is not always easy for us as our cerebral landscape tends be a very busy “place”. However, it is a very valuable skill to develop. Do your best to understand the other person’s perspective and thoughtfully consider the intended meaning of their words. Don’t be like many who simply wait for a gap in proceedings to launch their own self-indulgent monologue. As a general rule, listen more than you speak.
    4. Read the non-verbal communication. In any conversation, the words are only part of the message and sometimes, a small part. What people don’t say will often tell you more than what they do. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears.
    5. Speak their language. All the talking in the world will result in zero connection if you’re both speaking different languages. And we see this all the time; the boss and the employee, the mother and daughter, the teacher and the student, the tech-dude (Johnny) and the non-tech-dude (me). Lots of words but no understanding, no connection and no positive outcome. While most of us understand English, we all speak our own “language”. What will motivate one person will intimidate another. What will make me laugh will offend my neighbour. What will make complete sense to you could be totally confusing to your parents (think computer). Know who you’re talking with and learn their language if it’s connection you’re after.

    Acknowledge their feelings. You don’t need to agree with people to understand them, to respect their point of view or to create genuine connection. Having the same philosophy on everything is not a pre-requisite for connection; if it was, we’d all be in a bunch of trouble.

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    The Last Bit

    The disconnection chat, is indeed a much bigger one than the mere morsel I’ve given you to chew on today. It is something that impacts on virtually every area of the human experience (great and small), and something that I believe needs to be addressed in a practical, humble and honest fashion if we are serious about undoing some of the damage we’re living in today. One individual can’t save six billion, neither can she change the mind of the global power brokers or single handedly steer the S.S.Humanity. However, when enough individuals get together, the few become many and we begin to see a shift in power and a practical, positive consequence in our physical world. That is, real change. So if you’ve been impacted by disconnection on any level (and welcome to the club), my suggestion for you is, rather than allowing yourself to be a victim of disconnection (yep, it’s a choice), work to become a connector. Genuine transformation and connection works from the inside-out and today (like every day) is an opportunity for you to become part of the solution, rather than a perpetuator of the problem.

    Every day I choose to create connection and to be part of the solution because I have that choice and that power. I encourage you to join me.

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    As always, love your thoughts.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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