It is natural, normal and healthy to form friendships. But relationships change. Through elementary school, high school, college or during our careers, we may have formed rich and rewarding relations with others. While some of those connections may have remained, others may have fallen by the wayside. Undoubtedly, friends come and go, but our ability to make connections with others remains a lifelong skill.
Qualities of Connectors
None of us actually go shopping for friends, but we all need them and consciously or unconsciously, we have our druthers. My best, longest and most meaningful connections happen with people who are hospitable, approachable, honest, authentic, kind, emphatic, who take time to listen and have a sense of humor. When around these types of folks I feel respected, valued, and safe. They won’t rat me out, cut me down, hold something against me, or drain my energy. Instead, when I spend any amount of time with them, I know they will energize, enlighten and add goodness to my life.
Though not everyone that we encounter will become a life-long friend, everyone we encounter is worthy of getting our best. For instance, I’ve had more than one meaningful conversation with the stranger sitting next to me on an airplane because I made the effort to engage with them. We may start out talking about the weather, but then they offer me more important tidbits about themselves; their vocation, family dynamics and personal concerns. Though brief, our connections can still be surprisingly deep when we offer to others the best we have to offer; ourselves.
Then there are those connections with familiar people in the community; the loyal and long-term clerk at the grocery store, restaurant, or small business. Again, the moments spent with them are short, but over the long haul, we become familiar with each other’s lives. Though we may not invite them to lunch, have them in for dinner, or give them a birthday gift, they know what to expect when they see us; friendliness.
What about those irregular people in our lives, the ones that cause our hackles to rise just thinking about them. Though we know they may be unapproachable, disingenuous and unkind, today, they can change and deserve our respect. Who knows, we may encounter them down the road and find they’ve grown into something other than what they were.
Why bother being amiable? No matter the amount of time we spend with friendly folk, they make our lives just a little bit more bearable.