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Connecting in a Meaningful Way

We tend to wear many hats and define ourselves by the roles we play in life. It is easy for us to rely on these roles to connect with people. In the United States, we tend to connect with people based on what we do for a living. When you first meet someone, it is not uncommon to ask what they do for a living. Recently, I came across an article citing 85% of people do not enjoy what they do for a living. If most of us are putting forth much of our time and energy toward something we are not passionate about, why is it that we use this as a basis to establish a connection with one another?

When we ask someone about their occupation it is one way for us to determine if we want to get to know someone else or not. If we meet someone and they mention they hold what society deems as a socially acceptable "good" job than we are more likely to want to learn more about them and establish a relationship with them. On the other hand, if the opposite is true, we are less inclined to do so. Therefore, we miss an opportunity to get to know and appreciate someone for the person they truly are.

In the US, so much of our lives are driven by living to work rather than working to live. It is more challenging to enjoy life because of the responsibilities we are faced with to include family, work, and financial commitments. There were times during my life when I was going through the motions of it rather than living it intentionally.

When I embarked on my path as an entrepreneur, I became alive again as I was doing things more in alignment with my personal interests, passion, and purpose. In making this shift, it provided a way for me to think about other aspects of my life in a different way.

Taking an authentic approach to connect with other people

Last year, I participated in a daylong conference devoted to providing engaging educational resources and stimulating enriching dialogue to enable women to be more successful in leadership roles. A speaker, during one of the panel discussions I attended, shared her eventful journey to becoming an entrepreneur. She also explained what was critical to her success was how she related to other people.

In her closing remarks, she challenged the audience to connect with people based upon common interests rather than their occupation. She went on to suggest the participants ask what someone is about rather than what they do for living. I was instantly captivated by this approach and decided I was going to make more of an effort to connect with people this way from that point forward.

Following the conference, I took a moment to reflect on key takeaways from the event. I also revisited the advice the panelist offered and related it to my previous experiences in networking settings. The events that were most engaging to me were the ones that allowed for people to share aspects of their personal lives in a fun and creative way.

As people we have many layers. You cannot appreciate someone for who they really are if you only define them solely by one aspect of their life. When I started to meet new people and make new friends after relocating to Washington, D.C. One way I started to connect with new people was getting outside of my comfort zone and trying different activities.

I started taking dance classes and it became one of my favorite ways to utilize my downtime. Prior to my first lesson I had no idea what to expect, but I set my intention to have a good time and I did. I realized this was the common thread for most of the dance students as well. This also provided a great way for me to take my mind off my divorce and channel my energy on something enjoyable.

As I began to meet more people through shared interests to also include hiking and yoga, the more rewarding and authentic my connections with other people became. I noticed my conversations were more meaningful as we would talk about things that truly matter in life. Taking this approach proved to be more meaningful and personally fulfilling. As a result, I was able to establish deeper connections with other people.

How do you prefer to establish connections with people you meet for the first time? Let me know in the comments section.

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