In a recent coaching session a client shared a secret: “I realized that the reason I haven’t been very productive since my move is that I don’t have anyone I can really talk to,” she said. “I have work friends and attend networking events, but I don’t feel a deep connection to anyone.”
Loneliness is officially a public health crisis. According to a 2018 survey, 22% of adults in the US and 23% in the UK say they always or often feel lonely, lack companionship, feel left out or isolated. The number of single-occupant households is growing in Denmark, Germany and Canada. Britain was the first nation in history to appoint a minister for loneliness.
As technology continues to make it easier to do things without interacting with each other, why should we make the effort? Humans have survived because our brains are wired for connection. There are serious physical and emotional consequences to spending too much time in isolation.
What should we do? As Amy Banks points out in Four Ways to Click: Rewire Your Brain for Stronger, More Rewarding Relationship, “when you’re judging, you’re not listening… if you’re not judging, you can listen more and feel calmer,” which makes interacting with others much easier. The author of Cracking the Code of Sustained Collaboration in Harvard Business Review recommends teaching people to listen so that judgment can give way to curiosity and people can value others’ perspectives as much as their own. Brené Brown challenges us to “listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard.”
Listening is the secret to the deep connection that creates nourishing relationships. How can you claim this for yourself or offer it to someone else today?