I’ve been thinking a lot about a focus for 2020 – the year of clarity. And what I keep coming back to is building connections and fostering relationships. I feel as though I am living a large life – I have many friends, a great career that keeps me busy, a wonderful husband, and a life full of travel and adventure. So why does the idea of building connections and fostering relationships keep coming back to me during my meditations? Well, I feel that our communities and our country are becoming more and more segmented and divisive. Plus, the majority of my family lives 1,600+ miles from me and five of our six children live out of state. I feel like I could and should be doing more to stay connected and help build bridges.
Roughly 27 years ago I took a look at my life and thought, “Wow! When did my life get so small?” I have always been a person who likes to get out and connect with others, but suddenly I found myself at home with two small children in a new city and the only other people that I spent time with was other new stay-at-home moms.They were wonderful ladies, and I owe a lot to them for the camaraderie during those early years of motherhood – but the thing is, we were all pretty much in the same boat – great for understanding and support, but not so much for expansion and growth. I like diversity, exploration, and knowledge. I decided that day to work on expanding my life. And I did.
Yet, today I look around and I feel like I do not know my neighbors enough, I do not talk with family members enough, I have let good friends drift away due to busyness, and I’m not helping my community with volunteer service.
Building connections and fostering relationships takes time and effort! It can be uncomfortable reaching out to a new group but the rewards are huge.
Building Connections and Fostering Relationships
If you are feeling like I am, here are a few simply ways to build connections and foster relationships:
Reach Out. Join a new group, find a cause you are passionate about, volunteer, take a class, learn something new.
Invite Others In. Meet someone for coffee, talk to your neighbors, host a gathering – book club, neighborhood watch, game night with neighbors.
Be a Great Listener. Take the time for a real conversation – ask questions, pay attention, and notice the whole person. Be present.
Connect Others. When someone is in need of something, share your contacts. Help others connect to share their services.
Stop and Chat. Smile and say hello to the store clerk, that person standing in line next to you, the person sitting beside you on the plane.
Respect Boundaries. Not everyone wants to hear our life stories in the first five minutes of meeting or in the grocery store checkout line! Share appropriately. This goes back to noticing the whole person.
Mentor Others and Be Open to Learning. When working with others there is much to share and also much to learn. Listen to the perspective of others and try to understand their thinking. You may not agree, but it is imperative that we all acknowledge the many persepctihves on any given subject that exists.
Forget the Generation Gap. Get beyond the “OK, Boomer” and “It’s a Millennial Thing” mentality. Cross generational relationships offer benefits in both directions.
Be Trustworthy. Keep your commitments. Be consistent. Show up and don’t ever gossip.
So there you go – actions to take if you, like me, want to build connections and foster relationships, build bridges and bring people together.
I just took the first step; I signed up for a local community group!