Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Communicate to Connect

Actually the title to this article is redundant. The word "communicate" originally meant "to have union with people"; it has the same Latin root as our word "communion". One of my favorite definitions of the word "communicate" (of the almost 400 definitions) is "to share meaning, or to attempt to share meaning", which is essentially connecting with another person.

It's somewhat of an irony that for all our advanced communication technology, what we crave is authentic connection with people. This past Sunday's Parade magazine featured an interview with mega-star Jodie Foster. Her most salient comment was how she deeply desired to connect with people. As do we all.

My grandmother, who is amazingly connected with all sorts of people, instilled in me an important key to getting along with people, to help connect with others. She always told me, and still does, that we should imagine that each person we come in contact with is wearing a sign that says, "Please make me feel important". It is not so much that we want to strut around as VIPs, but we all want to matter to others.

In an extension of this line of thinking, in her book, Happy for No Reason, author Marci Shimoff notes that happy people see the whole world as their family. If you see another as a loved brother, aunt, or godfather, it's easier to look for the good in that person. Having that mindset creates a positive energy that you give off without being conscious of that process. It's also another way of loving our neighbor.

To connect to people, imagine them as members of your big happy family. Remember that they want connection as well. Your communication will adjust accordingly.