When Connection Isn’t Really Connection

opinionsMany people believe that the Grace of Connection comes from having similar passions and convictions as others. Today, 7 Graces community blogger Sue Ellam talks about how the deepest connection within ourselves and with colleagues often comes from our differences rather than similarities.

‘We tend to judge others by their behaviour
and ourselves by our intentions’ – Albert F Schlieder.

There are many things I am passionate about and I have very strong opinions on certain subjects. But when I read quote above, it gave me pause and made me ask myself:

Do my opinions sometimes get in the way of being open to fresh knowledge?

Over the years, I have been active on a number of professional forums. It never fails to amaze me how many people on these just talk and don’t listen, with an ‘it’s my way or the highway’ attitude. Egos aren’t just bouncing off the walls, but off the ceilings and floors too. Sometimes it’s like a fight to the death to win the argument. An outsider watching the conversations would be able to see that there is merit to both sides of the argument, but that neither of the ‘contestants’ in this battle sees any side other than their own.

What then transpires is that their mistaken feelings of ‘connection’ to their own points of view cause massive disconnection to others – unless those people happen to hold the same beliefs, of course. This is extremely limiting, not just for collaborative ventures, but for life in general. I often wonder how many missed opportunities these will people experience because they can’t get past their own opinions.

‘Connection’ is not the same as ‘attachment’ to our own ideas or way of seeing the world. Many people mistake their attachments for connection, and thus become overly zealous about a particular way of thinking or seeing. But attachment is not connection, and it can never foster connection either within ourselves or with other people.

For example, we might be led to believe that like-minded people are more ‘connected’ to us, and more likely to have our best intention at heart. But if these people happen to be just as blinkered as we are on certain matters, our similarities will only serve to strengthen our self-righteousness and belief that we have all the answers. This keeps us inside our own personal box, unable to grow or connect with the rest of the world.

On the other hand, people who don’t think like us or buy into our ideas could have the good intention of opening our eyes to other possibilities (which we can accept or reject at will). Being challenged can sometimes be a painful experience, depending on how high up the ladder of self-righteousness we are. But ultimately, listening and engaging with new ideas enables us to be a much wiser person. With eyes and ears wide open, many opportunities for growth and connection outside of our personal domain will come to us.

I also believe we sometimes attract non-likeminded people into our lives because we are meant to learn something about ourselves. When we judge such a person, it is because it triggers something deep within us that we are trying to ignore–something we feel is ‘not so nice’ or that is ‘unacceptable in polite society’. Our judgement of that person is a sign of a disconnection within ourselves. Making an effort to connect with those who trigger this self-judgement can help us reconnect to those lost parts of Self.

Other times, we may want to ‘give’ our knowledge and wisdom to others who may not share our way of thinking. When we are passionate about something, there is a tendency to wax lyrical, which we may mistake for connection. But for true connection to be present:

  • We need to be sure we are still hearing the other person, and not coming from a place of ‘we know it all’.
  • We need to understand that our truth might not be the other person’s truth, and it is important to give them the opportunity to reject our point of view without being personally offended.
  • We need to stand back and ask ourselves if we are, in fact, bullying the other person into submission.
  • We need to look honestly at where our intentions are really coming from. Are we humbly offering knowledge we think would be useful, or are we trying to demonstrate how clever and intelligent we think we are?

True connection comes when we learn to listen to everyone without judgement. It comes when we learn to listen deeply to others – whether someone we meet randomly in the street or a small child – knowing we always have something to learn from them. When our ideas and beliefs are open and flowing, we won’t disconnect ourselves from other people or from their wealth of knowledge and wisdom.

When we come to understand the difference between ego, attachment and true connection, and learn to respect the views of others, the Grace of Connection shouldn’t be such a difficult thing to achieve, both in our personal and professional relationships.

~ Sue Ellam
3 May 2013

Sue-EllamSUE ELLAM is fascinated by the power of mind over matter and was initially guided towards spiritual healing and medium-ship. She is a professionally trained graphologist of 21 years standing and has travelled extensively using this skill, as well as that of tarot reading, participating in many festivals worldwide. Currently she is developing Soulfully Connecting, a global website dedicated to the healing of mind, body, soul and planet. Her vision is to connect like-minded individuals around the world through the sharing of knowledge, providing a platform so that the change-makers can be seen, appreciated and supported. Sue is also an active member of the 7 Graces Community. Find out more about Sue and her work at http://soulfully-connecting.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SoulfullyConnecting.


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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

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9 Responses to When Connection Isn’t Really Connection

  1. I really liked this article, Sue … so often I have had to physically struggle to pull my eyebrows down from the sky when presented with people on their soapboxes, truly passionate about their causes but so totally disconnected from others (and quite often, themselves).

    I’d not thought of the mental link between attachment and connection, yet I can see the umbilical cord quite clearly now you have mentioned it!

    I applaud you for sharing the Grace of Connection so succinctly – and if ever there is a quote to live by, it is this: “True connection comes when we learn to listen to everyone without judgement”. Thank you!

    • Sue Ellam says:

      Thanks Callie for your kind and generous words and I’m really glad that the article was of benefit to you in some way.

  2. Cindy Barnes says:

    I really enjoyed this Sue and it’s so true, although it took me a long time to learn! I love being just enough outside my comfort zone to still stay open enough to listen and engage.

  3. Lubna says:

    Hi Sue,

    Thank you for your insights into what connection is and can be. A great read and a lot to think about.

    I agree that freely open dialogue is essential to true connection; much more than any insistence that someone else knows and told how I can achieve their version of nirvana.

    Where I hit my conundrum is – I go into judgement when someone claims to have an important message and be deeply connected to the universe, and it becomes clear that they’re not and/or they don’t walk the talk.

    Like Cindy, I’ll listen and engage if I can – though I know that I disconnect if I perceive too much of a facade or I feel I’m being talked at. Perhaps there is some point at which connection has to be a 2-way street?

    Love to know what you or anyone else think, and what your cut-off point is if you have one?

    Best wishes

    • Sue Ellam says:

      Hi Lubna – thanks for your feedback and I’m glad that you enjoyed the article.

      I know exactly what you mean about falling into judgement as it’s so easy to do when we sense that someone else isn’t being authentic. However, I think that we always have something to learn (even if it’s a clear demonstration of what not to do), and if we relapse into judgement, we cut off our unbiased observation. I don’t know about you but I find that if I’m in judgement there is often emotion attached to it – we get tense, we ask ourselves if the other person thinks that we are clueless etc., or whatever the scenario is.

      I think that if we can listen to that other person impartially, genuinely trying to see an opportunity for connection we might just find one. We could also give the other person the opportunity of looking at themselves and their own motivations, which will possibly come from fear. So our connection with them is indeed a 2-way street, just not one we anticipated.

      Once I have learned what I need to learn, if it’s clear that there is still no compatibility, I will walk away. You never know, 6 months or a year down the line that same person could reappear and there could be a genuine connection that time round!

  4. Mica May says:

    Love this!
    Really listening to and perceiving another’s point of view and allowing ourselves to accept that a perspective totally different from ours can still be valid and in fact useful is a vital and beautiful lesson.
    Understanding this in the context of our attachments is really useful.
    I love Energy Dynamics (https://www.fiveinstitute.com/) as a way of understanding ourselves and others and indeed it gives us a frame of reference to help us recognise the value of other people’s points of view (and a whole load more besides). Access to this valuable information is free.

  5. We’re an increasingly polarized society that never has to expose ourselves to opposing viewpoints, thanks to fragmented media outlets. Pick your poison and stick with it, seems to be the trend. Not healthy.

    At the same time, by this age I do know what I believe and some of it just isn’t negotiable…intelligent opposing views are always interesting but a lot of what we see is just more polarizing crap.
    No easy answers…

    • Sue Ellam says:

      Thanks for your comment Carol and I do agree with you on a lot of things. There are many people who just don’t want to see anything other than their own beliefs and this becomes very limiting.

      I also have some non-negotiables in my belief system ie. living a life in keeping with the benefit of the planet – whatever that entails.

      I have been fortunate over the past year in joining the 7 Graces community where people speak their minds and there are intelligent opposing views, but it is never confrontational and everyone is listened to.

      There are definitely no easy answers and I think that all we can do is live our own lives in integrity.

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