Recognizing the Personal Disconnect

If you read the first of my blogs you learned that almost everything of any value comes from and depends on connection.  You may also have realized when the connection is broken, all can be lost. I hate to be melodramatic, but I really do mean ALL.

img_0131-1In the second blog I wrote about some of the rules that govern our attempt to reconnect. Understanding these rules helps us understand why reconnection is so difficult.  Disconnection in relationships is common and in many cases, permanent.  Remember the salesman who became disconnected from his customer and eventually lost that account? In this blog I want to address the need for connection in our personal life and the tragedy of disconnect.

You may be familiar with the term “bar bet.” It is the bet we make with a friend or even a stranger in a social environment. It’s usually on some trivial fact. Maybe it’s who won the 1945 World Series or the first Super Bowl or which team will win the game being shown on the bar television. Many times the person who initiates the bet already knows the outcome, so I guess you could say it’s really a trick. Not very serious, just for fun and maybe a beer.

So, I’ll make you a bet just for fun. I’ll bet I can sit at a table in a restaurant and after 10 minutes tell you which couples are connected and the ones that aren’t. Here’s how I’ll do it.  First, look at their eyes. The eyes are windows to the soul and surely to the heart. People that are connected make eye contact with the person or people they are with.

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img_0081People that sit together, but are disconnected, tend to look around the room often past the other person. They may even continuously look at their smart phone or watch. They know if they make eye contact it may elicit an emotion or even a confrontation. That confrontation might bring up their disconnect and the struggle that would be necessary to reconnect is too much, just too much. So as my Grandfather used to say “Let sleeping dogs lie.”

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Next, I look at their hands. If you lay your hand on the table at dinner with your hand open, palm up, you are asking to connect. Palm down means you are less sure that the feeling will be returned, so a palm down has less emotional risk if it gets rejected. But hands closed mean I am not willing to connect and I will not respond in a positive manner if you reach out to me. I am closed.

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Next, look at their faces. Partners that are connected practice active listening.  When one person is talking, the other is not only hearing the words but also feeling the emotion behind the words. That’s a form of active listening. I’m into your story, sad or happy. I want to experience it too, even if it’s after the fact. People who are not connected tend to show no facial emotion other than boredom.

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Next, look at the other body language. Arms crossed often indicates disapproval but also possibly disconnect. Sitting forward in your chair signals a desire to connect while sitting back may signal lack of interest. img_0077-1

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The ultimate goal of many relationships is happiness. When people are happy they often smile. So look at the faces at the tables and measure the smiles.

img_0134Now, think about the couples you have known over the last 10 years. First, consider those whose marriage ended in divorce. Think about the signs of the growing disconnect before they finally gave up. But what about the friends you have that are still together. Are there signs of disconnection? All you have to do is listen and watch. You’ll recognize the disease. The disconnect between people we love and care about is tragic. Our disconnect and our inability to repair the damage turns friends and lovers into strangers. Strangers in our own house and even in our own bed.

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So when does this start?  Disconnection at a personal level starts when we find ourselves thinking more about ourselves then we do about others.The selfish person lives a life of loneliness because true connection is nearly impossible. Today more than ever in our history, we live in a disconnected society of lonely people and misplaced trust. Look around you for those that are connected, but don’t be surprised what you find.

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Steve Haberly

Next week’s blog defines the level of the disconnect and what can lead to a turn around and a reconnect.  Don’t watch your relationship dissolve before your eyes. Don’t wait until the damage is permanent.  Be proactive.

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