26 August 2021

The Power of Connection

A phone photographing a spherical image of people on screens

Jane looks at why making the time to truly connect is far more beneficial than you may think.

‘I never seem to have enough time.’

‘Sorry I have to jump on another call now.’

‘Have you got time next month maybe?’

How familiar are these phrases? Have you used them yourself recently? Do you ever feel as if time is running away with you and the faster you try to keep up, the harder it is to do so? And what impact does that have on your relationships with the people who you are addressing?

It is strange, isn’t it? This is a time when connecting became simpler with few or no travel or physical arrangements – just hope the WiFi works and click on the link. And during the hardest part of the pandemic, lack of physical connection with most people increased our need to feel connected. So is it just me or are we rarely making powerful connections with each other at the moment? Have we forgotten how? Or have the miracles of technology-led us to simply cram in more and more brief meetings which don’t allow us to genuinely talk to each other and listen attentively?

We ran 2 new projects from January to March this year, 2021 – during the depths of miserable lockdown: Level Best for people with experience of racism and disability and Resilience beyond Crisis for leaders in the migration and refugee sector. We worked online with 2 groups of outstanding people who shared their life and professional experiences generously with each other. This was some of the most rewarding work we have done. The connections between group members and us were trusting and deep. The transformations we witnessed in some participants were impressive and humbling. And then the programmes came to an end, so we had to stop. This year ending the formal contact with the group was particularly difficult. One participant wrote to us spontaneously just afterwards, expressing this feeling so well:

‘I didn’t want to leave the [final] meeting yesterday; it felt like trying to get out of a comfy sofa after a weekend with your best friends. Everyone has been so caring, supportive and loving whether leading all those brilliant sessions or participating so openly and honestly. It has been a privilege to be part of this journey ... and it isn't going to stop here.’

We took that final phrase as a good hint and decided to do our best to reconvene those groups and catch up with each other a few months after the programme's end. It is easier not to do this – to simply carry on ploughing your furrow. But this month, August 2021, we set up online short events for each group. Here is what we learned from this:

  • An awful lot can happen to people in a short time. It is valuable and enriching to make time to listen to what people have been up to. From starting new enterprises to major life events and losses, the chance to be reminded of what deeply connects us as human being is so important.
  • By simply asking two things: ‘Tell us about a good contact you have made’ and ‘Ask us about a contact you need’ you can get the type of help and support you need almost instantly. The famous ‘6 stages removed’ phrase proved to be ‘maximum of 2 stages’ at these events. For each request there was an immediate and practical answer within the small gathering. We connected, got the help we need and felt better.
  • To feel this deeper connection doesn’t take long but it requires ease; we needed enough time. This was not an over-structured event, just 90 minutes to share our thoughts and experiences. You may surprise yourself if you try something similar.


The most famous phrase about connection is probably from the English novelist, E.M Forster. His quote from Howard’s End seems particularly apt for our current times:

‘Only connect! Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.’

If this article has led you to want to connect, why not start by doing so with us?

 
 
 
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We are Result CIC, a community interest company. We work with people who feel marginalised or excluded to become more confident about their abilities and to fulfill their potential. We also work with Directors, Managers and CEOs who need support to bring about positive change in terms of diversity and inclusion in their organisations. We each have personal experience of the issues affecting the people we work to support, including disability, immigration, mental health and sexuality. We have also worked in senior positions in industry and government.

Our vision is a society where every individual can achieve their potential, feel fulfilled and make a valuable contribution. 

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