The one hack you need to win in your relationships every time!
So, it’s the month of February and many people have nothing but LOVE or relationships on their minds. But truth be told, forming AND maintaining healthy, thriving and emotionally meaningful relationships with others is not all roses. 🌹🥀 It requires strong social-emotional skills AND an unwavering commitment.
Have you ever reached out to connect to someone only to get your feelings hurt? 😭 Maybe you invited a friend to lunch but he/she always seems to have an excuse for why they can’t connect. OR maybe you made an effort to get to know someone better by asking him/her questions about their family, dreams, aspirations or future plans– only to have him/her change the subject on you or ignore your questions completely.
I don’t know about you but attempting to connect with desired others who show little to no interest in wanting to share their time or thoughts with me, causes me to feel a bit rejected and slighted. As a very relational person, this cuts me to my core. Relational interactions and experiences like these are things that make me go, “Hmm..what’s this all about? Was there a breakdown in how I communicated my intent to connect? Does this person not see me as someone worthy of their time and attention?” 🤔
A little research
To help me understand these experiences, I sought out a known relationship expert–Dr. John Gottman, someone I had learned about in grad school. In his book The Relationship Cure (2001), Dr. Gottman reveals a key communication practice we must master in order to experience thriving relationships. This practice is what he refers to as an ’emotional bid’, the fundamental unit of connection with others.
To put it simply, an ’emotional bid’ is any verbal OR non-verbal communication that says “I want to connect with you.” A bid can take the form of a question, a gesture, a look, a touch, or even an invitation.
For example, a verbal bid for connection with a friend may sound like “Are you free this evening?” Or with a colleague, it could sound like, “Do you have lunch plans today?” or “How was your vacation?”. With our children or spouse, a bid can sound like, “What was the highlight of your day today?”
Nonverbal bids include giving someone a pat on the back, a handshake, a kiss or a hug. It can also include friendly gestures such as offering someone a place to sit near you or sharing a funny meme, joke or photo.
One nuance of bidding is when our bids are unclear and they require others to guess at our desired intention. In order for our bids to be perceived as an attempt to connect at an emotional level, we need to ensure they are bold and clear.
Connection is what gives meaning to our lives
And although bold bids for connection require us to be vulnerable and risk rejection from others, we must not allow the fear of ‘perceived’ rejection to stop us from seeking opportunities to connect.
Having great relationships are well worth the risk. In the words of researcher Dr. Brene Brown, “Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives meaning and purpose to our lives.”
What do you think? You can view her talk on the power of vulnerability here. It’s definitely worth listening to. And by the way. Her talk is one of the top ten most viewed Ted Talks in the world. Just saying 👀.
CONNECTING WITH OTHERS SUCCESSFULLY
- Analyzing the way we bid or attempt to connect others
- Exploring how our life experiences have influenced our bidding and communication styles
- Ensuring our bids are bold, brave and clear to others (in other words, making our need/desire for connection clearly known to others)
So, in an effort to sharpen your relationship skills, here are some questions I’ve used to evaluate the effectiveness of my bids AND the barriers to my bids.
- How do I bid connection with others? What are the primary ways I seek connection with others (e.g., requests for coffee/lunch/dinner dates, sharing jokes, telling stories, asking questions about their life etc.?)
- Are my bids clear and bold (as evidenced by attentiveness and engagement) or are they too unclear or too subtle (as evidenced by disinterest, disengagement)? If they are too subtle, what bold action can I take to make my bids for emotional connection clearly known?
- What is stopping me from making my need/desire for connection clearly known to others? What action can I take to overcome these barriers so I can thrive in my relationships?
- Pay closer attention to how you bid for connection. Ask yourself, “Was my bid for connection clear and bold or was it too safe and subtle because I fear _______?” Then, brave up by taking the emotional risk of reaching out for the connection you desire.
In my next post, I’ll be sharing more of Dr. Gottman’s recommendations on how we should and should NOT respond to the bids of others if we want to build great relationships with those around us. These next few posts are all about thriving with those we lead, love and work with so you DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS CONTENT!
Remember to LEAD with bold and clear emotional bids, LOVE others on purpose, and make bold attempts to connect with those around you— and as you do so, you’ll see your relational life THRIVE!
Until next time, have a THRIVING week!