Top 11 Barriers to Connection

When people come to us to share a concern or life issue, it’s easy to lapse into behaviors, reactions or verbal responses that—although often well meaning—serve to block us from hearing, or being present to the other person’s experience.

We’d be better off following the words of this inside-out saying:

97b5d35b-9249-49c0-9f08-08ca19c66565“Don’t just do something; stand there.” share on Twitter

…and be mindful not to:
Disconnect from your Vulnerable Inner Self. When someone comes to you with a problem or issue, they are vulnerable. They are feeling deeply and in a sensitive place. It is easy to abandon your own vulnerability (feelings) to take care of theirs. This is the gift of Voice Dialogue: being connected to your authentic, sensitive Self, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME being focused on the other person’s words, body language, tone, energy, and vulnerability. By appropriately connecting with your Vulnerable Self and being aware of the other’s Vulnerable Self, they will feel that you are very present, sensitive, authentic…and CONNECTED. Trust develops from this place, often before a word spoken.
Fix. Seek not to advise solutions, or fix the other’s issue (unless asked or a part of the contract,) rather listen and reflect back the person’s experience.
Defend. When, in reaction to the other person’s expression of their experiences, you explain, justify or rationalize your behaviors or perspective, you invalidate the other’s experience. You can create a time to offer your experience, but for now, just listen.
Shut down. This happens when parents say things like: “Stop crying. It’s not that bad.” Children are more likely to naturally stop crying when they feel heard. This happens in today’s Consciousness/Personal Growth world when we say things like, “Stop being the victim!” and “Get over it!” This causes an internal shut down of the courageous attempt to share one’s vulnerability – one’s authentic expression of their experiences and the feelings about those experiences.
One-up. Saying, “Oh, that’s nothing! Listen to what happened to me!” gives the message, “Your experience doesn’t count…ergo you don’t count.”
Reassure. It’s OK for people to feel their feelings. When we try to console (“It’s not your fault; you did the best you could…”) we take people out of their feelings.
Pity. Sympathy and pity (“Oh, you poor thing!”) are very different from empathy, which is simply a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing.
Commiserate. Sharing stories of your own similar experiences is not showing empathy; it turns the focus away from the person with the issue, to the person telling their story. It actually is an act of abandonment of the person who came to you for connection in the first place.
Correct. First listen. After the other person feels fully understood, then see about correcting any misunderstandings or inaccurate impressions.
Enlighten. Don’t attempt to educate unless your opinion is asked. This is when our “Psychological Knower” can destroy connection and create disconnection.
Interrogate. Too many questions distract from the feelings at hand. Many people, especially when they are vulnerable, experience questions as judgments. This breaks connection and can cause the person to shut down.