When was the last time you connected with someone? Now don’t tell me all about your social media, Facebook postings, Tweets, texts, and all of that.  I mean when did you last really have a heart-to-heart moment? In this era of constant communication, unending input and output, and non-stop chatter we need to remind ourselves of what true connection means.

Exchange of information? Could be. Vocal expression? Sure. Written notes? Yes, but how about eye contact? Sitting together without talking? Listening without interrupting?

I had the privilege of attending an all-day workshop on connections this week. We all put our cell phones in a basket and our facilitator moved us through various activities as a whole group (about 50 of us), small groups of six, and one-on-one. One of the more humorous exercises was when we stood in a group without any particular order, and were asked to find three “Buddies” including High Five Buddy, Bump Buddy and Eye Contact Buddy. First we found someone we didn’t know yet and did a high five, another to do the “bump,” and a third to just make eye contact in silence with. When the facilitator shouted “High-Five Buddy!” we ran through the crowd to that person, same with Bump Buddy, and you get the idea.  It was fun chaos as we scrambled and pushed people aside to get to our Buddies. The interesting thing with the Eye Contact Buddy was that even though we only had 30 seconds to stare into each other’s eyes, we made a stronger connection than with the other Buddies. Even though we didn’t say a word. Even though we didn’t have to be smart, or interesting, or clever, or entertaining. We just WERE with the other person.

Well, I really learned something and I’m happy to share it with you. 30 seconds of quiet eye contact can mean more to a person than giving them advice, stepping in with our egos to come up with a plan, or sharing our own thoughts. Huh. I thought communicating was about sharing your thoughts. It is, in part. But listening, and being, and just LOOKING AT a person is like a power-packed mini-tonic for their soul.

I believe that what we put into the world is what we find within it. Remember what you were taught as a child when crossing the street: Stop, Look, Listen? That was good advice then and it is even better advice now. The next time you encounter someone who is posing a question, sharing a thought, or even complaining, just Stop your locomotive of thought. Look the person in the eyes, without checking your phone or getting distracted by things in the environment. Listen to what they are saying, without filling in with your own thoughts either out loud OR in your head. When they have finished speaking, DO IT AGAIN. Stop for a moment, look at them so they know they have permission to continue if they need to, and listen if they do continue. Don’t jump right in with what you think about what they said. Let it rest for a moment and simply acknowledge that you’ve heard. And presto, you have just given them their tiny soul-tonic for the day. Who knows, you may learn something new about them or yourself in the process.

Wouldn’t you be happier with a little soul-tonic? I know I would, so let’s put that into the world and Make It So.