**Edited and revised 2/12/2021
Waiting — who doesn’t feel the discomfort of that? My family and I were waiting to change trains in Milan, Italy. Having just arrived from Venice, we were on our way to Lucerne, Switzerland. This trip — an amazing bucket list trip that we had dreamed about was finally happening. We were here! We had made the commitment to save the money, plan the trip, schedule the time off and put the discomfort of travel aside.
Ten years of hard work, courage and conviction had finally paid off. Everything on this trip felt important. Do you know what I mean? When you and I have worked hard, have struggled, and now we are experiencing the reward, everything feels brighter and we feel more alive, right?
My husband and daughter had left me alone for a quick trip to the refreshment stand, and as I watched the people come and go, I noticed two strangers strike up a conversation as they were waiting to board the next train.
Have you ever had that experience of sharing your most intimate personal secrets with a stranger? Well, these two ladies seemed to act as if they had known each other for decades. For this people-watcher, I imagined some really juicy gossip being exchanged. They laughed together, leaned in closer, pointed here and there and shared their snacks. They seemed carefree and jolly, do you know what I mean? The more animated they became, the more curious I got.
As a high performance coach, I love watching people use their unique talents and gifts, and as I watched these women, I felt that something extraordinary was going on. Finally, I had to ask them how they knew each other. They answered almost in unison that they had just met, but felt, as if they had known each other their whole lives. Get this: They wanted to “share the experience of waiting.” One was Swiss and the other was French, both were in Italy, and yet, they were like sisters from different mothers!
Had my family been with me, I probably would have missed this profound learning experience, because these two women were doing exactly what the authors recommended in their book, loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection.
One of the ways we can help manage and prevent our feelings of isolation, alienation and exclusion is by making small talk with those around us.
Before I continue, I do want to take a moment and mention the importance of making time. By taking time to notice and be curious about these two women and by those women taking the time to share a moment while they waited for the train, we all benefited – even if it was only for a few minutes.
Choices like these lift us all up and make it more likely that we will share our good will with others.
I learned something valuable about human interaction and they gained something valuable by creating warm connections wherever they went. Those two women rarely felt lonely, because of how they chose to see the world, how they made the effort to extend themselves to be open to connection, and as it turned out, had learned to take great pleasure in helping others pass the time!
The authors, John Cacioppo and William Patrick describe what those two little old ladies demonstrated:
When we feel safe and secure within our social connections, we can move along free of biases and unwarranted expectations. Relaxed and attentive, we can be in sync with the movement of others. With no expectations that we’ll be excluded, our defensive, fight or flight mechanisms are not on red alert. Free from all that distraction, we are able to detect more reliably whether any budding connection is promising. Living more calmly in the moment, we can make better choices.(Ibid. pg. 223)
Next week, I will give you the formula that the authors advocate to help prevent you and me from getting stuck in negative thought processes that promote loneliness.
In the meantime, if you are waiting for your turn at the counter, for the bus, for the clerk at the grocery, put your phone away and strike up a conversation with the person next to you. That little burst of camaraderie might not only brighten your day, you may feel like you just made a new friend! And when you feel that, the world just got a little less lonely.
If you feel that you want to take your habits of connection and communication to the next level, you can click here to Learn more about High Performance Coaching. The next round of coaching is open. As a gift for applying for a free strategy session, I will give you my 52 Weeks of Vision Digital Journal for FREE! – 52 prompts that help you to learn more about your strengths, more about what you want out of life, and guidance on how you will make the vision of your extraordinary life a reality. It’s my thank you to you for being willing to take that next step.
If this style of coaching speaks to you, then I want to encourage you to apply. The transformation began in my life when I discovered how coaching could help me to create an extraordinary life.
So please apply here: https://forms.gle/uLSVrT8EbhhYAD9h8. The questionnaire, itself, is a great self discovery tool and may help you to think more clearly about who you are and how you are showing up in the world. I want the very best for you and coaching could be the next right step!
Thank you so much for reading and until next time,
Make the most out of the time you have!
With love and respect,