Social Connection Is Well & Good For Us All

What do comedians, commuters and clinicians have in common? Their success depends on connecting with others. You’ve undoubtedly heard that people fear public speaking more than death. The antidote to this fear is connection!

Humans are social beings. If we weren’t, antisocial behavior wouldn't be a symptom of mental illness (DSM-V). Yet we often talk ourselves out of opportunities to connect. We may fear criticism, unfairly compare ourselves to colleagues, misperceive social cues, or miss validating and supportive messages, all of which foster that crucial need for social connection. 

Did you know that people who talk to others on their way to and from work are measurably happier with commuting than people who go to and from work in silence and solitude? So says the research of Dr. Nicholas Epley at the Chicago Booth School of Business. And yet many of you reading this may miss these social connections based on a mistaken belief that other people don't want to connect with you. 

  • Take a chance and put yourself out there.
  • Be friendly.  
  • Allow yourself to be a little bit vulnerable. Chances are people are eagerly waiting to reciprocate.
  • Trust that others are genuinely interested in hearing your story with a kind heart.
  • Reject labels that reinforce the idea that you’re not social, such as, “I’m shy,” or “I have nothing interesting to say.” You have lots to offer. Share what you’ve read in The Wave!

Give yourself permission to talk about things other than work. Connection goes beyond small talk. Find connection with others through shared experience, whether it’s a movie, a march, or a meeting. Perhaps you read the news coverage of two women who randomly met in the restroom and made a double life-saving connection, as each of them was a kidney donor match for the other’s husband! This is an extreme example, but any interaction provides an opportunity for social connection that is unique to the time, place, and people connecting. Take advantage of the connections life puts in your path. It’s so much more fun to share the road.

I read about challenging oneself to make more social connections in this funny, enchanting summer read, Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want To Come by Jessica Pan. You can also read more about Dr. Epley’s work on the psychology of social connections here: 

The NIH Offers this: 6 strategies for improving your social health 


Share this post:

Comments on "Social Connection Is Well & Good For Us All "

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment