Feeling Isolated, Unfulfilled and Blah? Five Great Ways To Bring Back REAL Relationships
Have you noticed the quality of your relationships declining? This is terrible because our relationships are what juice up our personal and professional lives!Too many of us let jam-packed schedules and convenient high-tech substitutes for conversation rob us of the deep, fulfilling human connections we crave. In fact, most of us are so busy and overwhelmed that we neither maintain our existing relationships nor make new connections a priority. Text messages just don’t have the same warmth as a phone call, and definitely don’t satisfy the way a lunch or quick afternoon coffee date does.As we’ve become more ‘connected’ in the Facebook sense, we’ve somehow lost our human connections. However, it’s those bonds with family members, friends and coworkers that provide the support, love, joy, companionship and understanding we need to foster personal and professional growth. These bonds are crucial to feeling fulfilled, which is so essential to our emotional and physical health at home and at work.Sure, technology is useful, but can we all agree that it encourages a culture where we spend more time documenting and recording our lives and less time actually experiencing them? It’s natural to want to improve efficiency, to conserve our energy, to make our lives easier and less stressful. This need is rooted in our basic survival instincts. Yet a great life is about more than survival—and when we neglect relationships we deprive ourselves of the full human experience.We also deprive ourselves of the referrals, sponsorships, mentorships, opportunities and—let’s face it, the LOVE—that keep our personal and professional lives thriving. Remember these benefits of connecting? We owe it to ourselves—and each other—to make it happen. So, where should you start?Face time always trumps Facebook. No matter how many photos and updates friends see, there is no substitute for an in-person visit. Spontaneous, non-verbal cues are best read face-to-face.Reach out and touch (not text) someone. Yes, texting is convenient, but really it’s nothing more than an exchange of dry facts, no matter how many pictures you send along with your message. A phone call yields details through voice quality and cadence about your friend’s or colleague’s thoughts and feelings that create emotional connections only mimicked in emojis.Include a fellow worker in something you’re already doing. (Exercise is always good.) This is a great way to integrate relationship-building into an already jam-packed life. A quick walk, trip to the gym, or regular yoga class provides opportunities to include others in your life. The regular doses of time together will deepen your relationship.Reserve some news just for a few close friends. Meaningful information about your life is currency for your relationships. When you broadcast your personal information all over social media it loses its value and isn’t special anymore. Honor your news and share it with your closest friends over the phone or face-to-face. Create space for work life separate from your personal life and remember who might be sharing your personal information.Make a pledge to spend (i.e., waste) less time on social media. It’s amazing how much time gets eaten up posting photos and updates and looking at others’ photos and updates. This can also update you on the people you want to deepen relationships with. If you’ve seen their news on Facebook, you’re less likely to call and ask. To break the social media habit, set limits—say, one or two hours a week.Relationship atrophy happens for a variety of reasons, but much of the blame can be laid at the feet of 21st-century realities. However, relationships can be built (or rebuilt) in the age of technology; it just takes a little time and conscious practice. The payoff is so worth it. Through our relationships we can overcome barriers and reach our goals. When we reach out and connect with each other it not only changes our lives, it can help us improve our workplaces and communities. Take it from me, please! Returning to old-fashioned face-to-face relationships is going to change your world.