An emotional connection is one of those fleeting, powerful things that can seem all too rare and all too outside one’s control. It can seem like it’s just chance when you happen upon one as if but by the grace of God it came into being.
And learning to connect with people on an emotional level is one of the most powerful, practical, wide-reaching skills you can possibly learn. If you haven’t given much thought to this one before, it’s high time you started.
Basically, feeling connected means feeling in touch with someone who cares about us. Most people acknowledge that children need to feel a safe attachment to an adult who cares for them. The reality is that adults also need a secure attachment to another adult. Each of us has an innate need to feel safely attached to another person who will be there in our times of physical or emotional need.
And emotional connection, at its very core, is all about helping others see you as the same as them: as someone who gets them, is bonded to them, and understands them to the quick of them. If you stop and you’re really, truly honest with yourself, you’ll realize they’re people just like you are and just like the people you don’t consider “other” are, and there really isn’t anything wrong with them. They’re just living a different life you don’t fully relate to, and they have different reactions to you and feelings about you too.
The ability to make an emotional connection is so often misunderstood because it’s not about being emotional or showing emotion. It’s about making a human connection- one person to another. This sounds simple, but it’s easy to lose sight of. When I feel overloaded in the midst of ringing phones, e-mails by the hundreds, and a gazillion other things to do, I tend to lose sight of the people around me and begin to see everything as a project that needs to be accomplished.
Research has shown that a person’s mood can be affected even by three degrees of separation from people they don’t even know. So imagine your impact in the workplace on those who report to you directly. Whether positive or negative, your emotional state has a significant influence on those you work with, especially when you’re the team leader.
But if you’re a leader, you simply have to develop the ability to reach out to others, engage them in discussion, and actively provide feedback. You’re the one who has to be out in front, taking the lead in developing these relationships. Even introverts can muster the energy to do these things and relate to others.
As leaders, by definition, we do our work through other people, and yet how easy it is to lose sight of that, to focus on the amount of work – the tasks, the output, the jobs to be completed. The irony is, the more you focus on the quality of those connections, the greater your quantity of output is likely to be.
The ability to build an emotional connection allows you to build friends and allies with on a highly consistent basis. All you really need to start is a focus on connecting.