Join me at the Educational Kinesiology Conference in Fort Collins, CO on Sunday, July 27 for From Fight, Flight, Freeze! to Breathe, Smile, Move!
I just got off the phone with Joe at an office supply company, who was calling to tell me that the order I had placed wasn’t in stock after all. There was a question about whether I could get what I needed before my conference this weekend.
The weird thing about the call was that it was not a negative experience. I got off the phone feeling happy.
So what made it that way? Attitude, I guess. Joe was so authentic. Nothing fancy, just a guy who cares doing his job. He was present.
Yesterday, I talked to someone with a credit card company about taking off a security lock. She was nice, but everything she said was scripted. I wasn’t really there for her. I didn’t get off the phone feeling much of anything.
We don’t usually think about these conversations as relationship. But these little interactions – at the bank, at the front desk, on the phone, with students, parents, colleagues, clients, with our own families and children – these conversations are the things that create the quality of our days.
What young children and animals know – and what I am just relearning after over fifty years of growing “up” – is that the content of the conversation doesn’t matter, as long as a happy connection happens. Kids and animals know that what is really important is relationship.
There is a scene from the recent movie Chef where the divorced dad asks his ten year-old boy to help him with social media. The kid looks up and says, “This is fun, spending time together. It’s like when you used to live here.” The dad says, “But I spend time with you – I take you to the amusement park – I want to make it special.” His son says, “That’s fun. But this is fun, too.” And it’s clear where he feels the relationship with his dad is the closest.
As we grow “up,” we stop treating all kinds interactions equally. Some – like the conversation with the boss about the raise – calling up for that first date – telling the kids that a divorce is coming – actually are very important, and we pay a lot of attention to how we appear, what we say, how we want the other person to experience us. But we do not think of some – like the transaction at the bank teller window, the usual directions to the employee, or reminding the child to pick up his room – as important. So we don’t pay attention to the quality of the relationship we create.
What if we treated all interactions equally, the way little children and dogs do? What if we were present for the teller at the bank, the employee, the child who hasn’t picked up the room in weeks?
Neuroplasticity suggests that the more positive interactions we have, the more positive interactions we are likely to have. Everything we do wires our brains. The things we do the most are the things that create us.
So the children and the animals are right – every interaction is, in a way, of equal importance. Every interaction trains our brains and bodies, our hearts and minds, to think, feel, and act in the ways we just did.
I’ve been practicing this idea of continual relationship just in little ways - by meeting the bank teller’s eyes and smiling. By remembering to take the extra moment to feel how the other person is feeling, and to be compassionate. Noticing my angst, and consciously not going there right away – or at least, not with the person who “caused” it!
And appreciating how many people truly are present in the “unimportant” daily-ness of life. Like Joe, the sales rep who cares.