Fellow expat, Nahla Summers, gives us her tips on how to make human connections while living abroad
21 May 2018| Last updated on 29 July 2019
Have you ever had a moment with a stranger and felt completely connected with them? Equally, have you had moments with your nearest and dearest where you felt completely disconnected from them and wondered if you know each other at all?
Human connection is defined by Brene Brown as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
SEE ALSO: 10 Secrets to Find Happiness as an Expat
Some might say that human connection takes time to develop and it does, but if you think about it you can create a human connection in just one meeting. This happens when you really allow someone to feel truly listened to, to not be judgemental in your responses or thoughts towards them, to be there for them with your entire being, no phone distraction, no distractions from the day or what might happen tomorrow, just being in the moment with the person you are with.
Happiness is the thing we seek out, we want it, we strive for it. It will come as no surprise that those who have more human connection in their everyday lives have more happiness. By doing volunteer work for communities we feel a sense of belonging and purpose. That is why people choose to go to a counsellor or coach rather than just read self-help books. Human connection is important for us in order to rid ourselves of loneliness and feel connected.
As an expat, it is often times difficult to build and maintain a human connection in your new country. No matter where you choose to stay, life will be what you make of it. You can be successful, make a business, career and have a wonderful social life if you so wish. However, all that networking to build your career can often confuse the human connection and the need to build the accolades in life. Connections are not networks.
So, how can we change it? Here are three tips to help you build better human connections:
Making time to smell the flowers
While the location can often feel it dictates how our lives are run, it is in fact us who control what connections we have. Make time for those special people you meet and connect with to do lovely things.
Don't make the connections about work, career, job
Make your conversations not about what you can gain from them but what you can learn from them, how you can support them in their life journey not their work journey.
Make plans and check in with people
Life is busy but in a world that is so fast it is easy to forget about people until we need them. It is important to check in even when we don' have anything to say apart from, ‘Hey I was just thinking of the great dinner we had. Wanted to check in on how you were doing? Always around if you need me.’