Keeping Connected in a Connection-Challenged World

As we increasingly live in the fast lane, a few road signs might be useful to guide us along the way-words warning us when good connections are being overlooked, threatened, or endangered. Some possibilities might include: Yield to Connection, Stop to Connect, or Use Caution … Relationships at Work!

Following these signs could make the paths we travel more satisfying, as well as directing us to some fascinating and fulfilling destinations we might have otherwise missed. These are signs for our times to keep us focused on the proper care required to cultivate good connections.

Our personal “connect-ability” is at risk of erosion more than ever from a culture being transformed by technology and increasing anonymity. The more plugged in we’ve become for the sake of speed and convenience, the more our once-traditional connecting points for personal relationships are disappearing. Our high-tech culture has ushered in bittersweet experiences; it has made connection faster and more fleeting, yet we’re reaping more frequent episodes of disconnected humanity, a danger whose consequences may be more far-reaching than we suspect.

Phone calls and meetings are increasingly replaced by e-mails, which may leave us confused and trying to read between the lines. Complex automatic voice messaging systems wind us through a maze of computer generated prompts, frustrating us when we just want to talk to a living, breathing person who can address our concerns.

Cell phones interrupt personal conversations, disrupt meetings, and block us from conversing with the everyday people passing through our lives. We gas up our cars,pay by credit card, and drive off without a “thank you.” Familiar faces that were once touchstones in our everyday lives-from the banker depositing our paychecks to the travel agent planning our vacations-are increasingly being replaced by automated systems or the Internet.

We now frequently walk, drive, and even fly without noticing or acknowledging the people who are sharing that slice of time and space with us, because we’re too busy conversing with people halfway around the globe. For example, if you were seated or standing next to someone right now, that person could be starved for attention, for any human contact on any level-but how would you know? When we do reach out, we can never guess what effect our connection at that point in time will have on others. Even the briefest encounter can bring someone a moment of much needed comfort or delight.

For many of us, even an instant interaction can make a world of difference in whether we feel connected, visible, and cared about. That’s why it’s even more important to connect with intentionand “show up” to extend our best.

Increasingly, we’re losing the valuable connections of greeting and interacting with the fellow travelers we encounter along life’s complex, multiple networks. Employees whose sole job is to serve customers may barely acknowledge their presence during a transaction. People walk along city streets, shopping malls, supermarket aisles, and office hallways, plugged into wireless networks rather than being wired to the moment and connecting with each other.

As we whirl past one another in dizzying style, frazzled from our fast-paced lifestyles, connectedness can indeed unravel, unless we’re careful to keep weaving connecting threads back to one another. With technology changing the landscape of living, coupled with corresponding changes in today’s cultural fabric, we risk losing something precious-the wondrous slice-of-time adventures with other human beings, the people who show up in our lives and make a difference. These are the most delicious fruits of life’s connections, the unexpected pleasures that flow from people who make us smile, laugh with us, help us out, offer directions, take time to share, save the day, and more.

Personal “connect-ability” is indeed vital, as is our ability to be “hightouch” in the face of frequently more faceless connections. In our increasingly anonymous culture, when someone takes the time to notice, tune in, care about, or fuss over us, that benevolence ripples out in wonderful ways. We’re constantly creating currents of energy that envelope the people with whom we live, work, and share time and space-bathing them in the rich warmth of our kindness, understanding, and appreciation. It’s all part of the interconnected nature of life. But the connections you make can create waves of positive, negative, or neutral
energy. You must decide what message you want to send out to the universe and to all the people in it.

By awakening to the abundant pleasures and joy of joining, you connect at the core of what’s meaningful and makes a difference to others and to your life experience. People connecting to people bring ordinary moments to life through extraordinary acts of valuable, high-touch humanity. When we create that “Wow, you noticed!” experience, a magical bond forms that leaves an enduring impression.

Connect-ability matters, because of the countless ways our connections count. We can nurture or neglect them, relish or reject them, cherish or chuck them. However we handle them, they all add up. We may rather quickly forget neutral experiences that don’t leave an impression on us one way or the other. The bad taste left from negative experiences we likely wish we could forget. But it is the compelling nature of our positive interactions that forge enduring connections-compelling vibrations of dynamic power and vibrancy, created in a place we call “The Connection Zone.”