There has never been a more important year to build connection.
Yet these are tough times to build connection. It’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog and I’ll be honest, I just haven’t been inspired, in part because of the crazy times we’ve been living in.
Unfocused and divided
We’ve been through a year that’s felt in many ways like a decade. And it’s so easy to feel depleted, divided and unconnected. Easy to focus on only the negative, all the things we’re no longer able to do, travel to places on our bucket list, and that we’ve missed out on so much. But in many ways these past months have also provided a silver lining. Time to catch up on my passions which include reading, binge watching favourite shows and spending more time in nature. But also forced me to reach out virtually to build connection or reconnect with people.
Empathy to build connection
From the time I first learned to read, I’ve always had a pile of books on my bedside. I love all manner of books; fiction, biographies, leadership, self-help, you name it. But lately I’ve gravitated towards books that help build connection and empathy. Perhaps it has something to do with the times we live in, and needing to be reminded of all that I’m grateful for. (Especially since, like many of you, I have lost friends and relatives to Covid.)
The Kelly Corrigan secret
In addition to books, I love a good interview program. I recently watched ‘Tell Me More’ series with host Kelly Corrigan where she interviews well known celebrities and writers. What struck me while watching her show was how easy she is to talk to, and how her guests open up, build connection and share their deepest feelings without it appearing that she’s prying. It’s like watching two best friends talk about what matters most. I learned that Kelly is also a writer and is referred to as “the poet laureate of the ordinary” by HuffPost.
“Tell me more” to build connection
Her latest book which I just finished reading is called just like her show,“Tell Me More”. Each chapter deals with the joys and challenges that come our way and how she’s dealt with them with grace, humility and occasionally regret. It’s about being human and vulnerable and forgiving yourself and others when you mess up.
Missed chances to build connection
The chapter that will stay with me is called, I Was Wrong. In her early 20’s Kelly had intended to make time to see her grandmother who lived 20 minutes away in a senior’s home. But life and fun times always interfered. And then she gets a call from her father telling her that his mom has died. He says “You should have gone regularly, Kelly. She was your grandmother.” And Kelly starts to cry from shame, because it was too late; her grandmother passed away and she would never have a chance to have a do over.
Never too late
It was a stark reminder to reach out to family members who are facing difficult times, who are in long term care homes, who are dealing with illness. Just as important is to reach across our political and social divides. To reach out now, because tomorrow may be too late.
P.S. – I encourage my virtual coaching clients to study Kelly’s videos to see what she does physically (body language), emotionally (tone) and verbally (words) to promote empathy and build connection. Here are some links to Kelly’s Podcast and interviews. Kelly Corrigan being interviewed by Maria Shriver , Kelly Corrigan Tell Me More interviews on PBS
Posted by Joanne Blake – avid reader and connection builder
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