by Matt Mattson
Are you old enough to remember the sound of a dial-up internet connection? If not, please enjoy the pain and ultimately the payoff of this 30-second video clip.
That 30-second clip is like the perfect metaphor for the experience of trying to connect with a new person (and even sometimes someone we know well). Maybe you met someone at a party. Maybe you are getting together with some extended family members over a holiday that you haven't seen in years. Maybe you are meeting with a new client. Maybe you are attempting to befriend a new neighbor or a new co-worker.
You start with the best intention. "This should be easy, let's just click!" But quickly realize that you're going to need some patience before the connection is fully made. There is a risk, of course, that the connection won't happen. But, most of the time, if you wait long enough, you'll connect. And when you hear that sound of connection -- a laugh, a softer tone of voice, a heightened level of curiosity, a moment of awareness and emotion -- it's all worth it.
Meeting people, or even reconnecting with people that you haven't spent time with in a while, is like that. You try small talk. You try the weather. You try current events. And sometimes, you don't connect. But to consistently get authentic connection requires a few key elements: good questions, caring attention, and a hint of vulnerability.
And when you hear that sound of connection -- it's all worth it.