Humans have an immense potential to lift or crush other fellow beings. If we pay enough attention, we can see that in most, if not all, of the interactions that we have daily we hold the potential to strengthen or break this invisible thread that exists between us and all of the ones we interact with. Working with people day in and day out, I get to exercise the connection muscle and sometimes the learning is very powerful. And painful, at the same time. Much like working out.
I geared up for yet another difficult conversation the other day – inherent when you deal with passionate people while being an intense person yourself. I made notes ahead of time, role played, made sure that I followed every advice in the book about sticking to facts, using “when you … I …” phrases, taking notes as a crutch of listening actively, looking in the eye and putting my best foot forward to keep my volcanic emotions in check. I did well. I did much, much better than I would have done years ago. A year ago. Last month. Progress.
And then, the tsunami hit. The human being in front of me lost it. They told me about the struggle underlying their perceived aggressiveness, their fears, their challenges and, most heartbreaking, their loneliness. And I found myself sitting across from one of my kind who was reaching out and thinking … what do I do now? Do I reach out my hand too, open my heart and offer to help risking to be hurt? Is this genuine? Do I remain in my box and just protect myself? From hurt and also connection? What a fine line we walk when we deal with humans. And at every given moment there danger is there: that we open up and get hurt or that we close up and we hurt others.
In seconds I went inside and did a quick check – what is it that you, you, would be able to live with? And I moved from across the table to the chair next to the other human, holding their hand and looking into their eyes. In all of this doubt and confusion that is life on most days, there is one certainty I have about myself: I will always err on the side of trust. The potential of hurting another human who opens up their heart to me while I meet it with a shield is so frightening to me that I prefer to look at this as continuously training my connection muscle and getting stronger day by day. This doesn’t mean I don’t get sore, it doesn’t mean there is no pain, on the contrary. Sometimes the muscle tears and it takes months, years to mend. But the rush I get from true connection and from realising that I made a difference, even if very little, makes it worth while to do this over and over again.
And because the universe is always there to back up my feelings, I stumbled upon an amazing resource this week: Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People. Nothing, but absolutely nothing, in this life, or any other for that matter, is left to chance.