Category: Mental Wellness
View All Articles
Why We Make Connections
June 23, 2009
Your everyday personal, professional, and social connections with others define who you are. Find out how every connection you make, from a smile to a comment at work, builds who you are.
Everyone needs someone to laugh with and a shoulder to cry on, whether it’s a friend, family member, coworker, or trusty pet.
Why we connect
We crave the emotional exchange and the physical touch that connectedness encourages. Staying connected with others - friends, family, coworkers - helps you maintain a balance in your life. Connecting helps give you stability in a scary and unpredictable world, provide a sense of consistency, and remove some of the powerlessness that arises from everyday worries.
Your relationships with groups and individuals make you feel secure. Your connections are your support group to turn to when you encounter overwhelming situations and decisions you can’t control. By sharing your problems with others, you can feel relief knowing you’re not alone.
Connections help to develop perspective
Building connections starts with interaction. From here you find out more about yourself and the world around you. The participants of a connection are beneficial to each other for many reasons:
- One person may gain valuable insight into the decision-making process that wouldn’t have been possible without the other
- A connection helps refine and strengthen skills already present
- Interacting helps communication and interpersonal skills by providing exposure to different perspectives
- The more you interact, gaining continuous guidance and feedback, the better you become at connecting
Making personal connections
Personal connections are ever-changing in today’s society. Think about Facebook, blogs, text messaging, and Twitter. How many times have you accessed one of these resources or even thought about it? Many of the decisions you make in your everyday life are influenced from the perspectives of others.
- Have you ever changed clothing because of something your close friend had on?
- Did you purchase a new vehicle or appliance because your friends or neighbors had one?
- Have you bought something in the grocery store because your friend recommended it?
Yes, believe it or not, if you’ve done one of these, it’s due to your personal connection.
Making professional connections
Developing professional connections is very important and can enhance your potential for success. Here are eight keys to developing professional connections:
- Be professional at all times
- Be courteous and considerate
- Be gracious to others’ time and efforts
- Be genuine and sincere
- Be interested in the people you meet
- Stay in touch by checking in periodically and providing updates as needed
- Be well prepared and knowledgeable about each conversation
- Give appropriate feedback by knowing enough about the people you meet
Why you may shy away from connecting
Making connections doesn’t come naturally to everyone and sometimes you may self-isolate. There are a great variety of reasons people use to rationalize why they don’t need to (or can’t) build connections. Some of the most common misconceptions holding people back are:
- Surely I would be wasting their time
- Why would they want to talk with me
- No one cares about me
- Someone may think I sound dumb
Connecting is good for you
People primarily make connections to broaden their personal network: the bigger the net of family, friends, and coworkers, the better. Some of the positive benefits of creating connections are:
- Increased social support
- Enjoying the benefits of bouncing ideas off friends
- Feeling that your opinion counts within your network
- Never feeling like you are alone
- Gaining balance and safety, raising your ability to think clearly
From a mental health perspective, having connections can significantly reduce feelings of depression and loneliness. Some minor medical conditions can even improve because of the individual being very active with family or friends. Connecting with others helps to keep that precious balance between anxiety and worry, confidence and powerlessness, talking and listening. It’s one of the few things that allow humans to give and receive at the same time. And, it’s free!
About the authors
Jon C. Crook, Ph.D., CEAP, is Clinical Director, EAP Services at LifeSynch, an organization that provides solutions for health, personal and workplace productivity, and health resources. He received his BA from St. John’s University, MA from Miami University, and Ph.D. from Case Western University.
Kenneth Presley is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) with LifeSynch’s Clinical Integrated Medical and Behavioral Health (IMBH) Program. Kenneth received a bachelor of science degree in psychology and a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Friends University in Wichita, KS.