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Connection… Interrupted

Connection… Interrupted

From the Archives

Man and woman in disagreement, Connection... Interrupted A study was conducted on a college campus walkway where a researcher stopped and asked a person for directions to a nearby campus building. During the time the participant was in the middle of giving directions to the researcher, a construction worker carrying a door who was in on the experiment sandwiched his way in between the researcher and participant, temporarily separating them.

Unbeknownst to the subject participant, a second researcher was hiding behind the door. The second researcher, who looked different and dressed differently, took the place of the first researcher while the door was passing by. The study question was whether the subjects giving directions would notice that they were giving directions to a whole different person after the door interruption.

Did they notice? Only 50 percent did. The bigger surprise was how many did NOT notice that they were giving directions to an entirely different person than they started out with. When the researcher was “like” the participant, such as a fellow student, they noticed the difference more. When there was an age difference or the researcher was perceived as not being part of the person’s social group, the rate of notice plummeted to 35 percent.

During lunch today in Silicon Valley, I noticed two people sitting together at the same table. They were having separate conversations with their cell phones, interacting with people who weren’t even there, but ignoring each other. It was Valentine’s Day.

What’s up with our inability to connect with people these days? The highways are another example of how we treat other people as if they are in our way, objects to be driven around, as fast as possible. I love the new Allstate commercial that say let’s stop treating each other as if we’re in each other’s way, and instead treat each other as if we were in each other’s homes.

If you’re not getting what you want in life, i.e., that amazing relationship or the terrific promotion, it could be because you are walking through life not noticing, not connecting, and not engaging. This is akin to treating people like objects and not people.

What can you do to notice and reconnect with the people around you who can and do make your life better? Smiling and making eye contact are great starts. It’s all about paying attention and being mindful of the moment. Remember that we are all individuals with stories and struggles. Take the time to share a laugh and let them know they are helping make your day brighter by simply doing the role that they do.

Connect with not only your family and co-workers, but also the people who serve you each day: the lady at the dry cleaners, the man at the bank drive-through, the Starbucks employee, the waiter at the restaurant, the postal worker, and your fellow drivers on the highways. When we can share an experience with the people in our lives instead of a transaction, our lives will be richer and we’ll have a better chance of getting what we want.

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