The Power of Human Connection

Over the last three years my life (and business) has changed dramatically because of one thing:

Human Connection.

I’m not really sure if I’m an introverted extrovert or an extroverted introvert (and I hate labels anyway) but to be able to spend a high percentage of my time safely tucked away in my own home, free from the draining energy of crowds, toxic office culture and negative energy vampires means that I’m a happier, calmer and more creative person than ever before.

But, of course, it’s not particularly helpful to be at home alone when running your own small business, so I’ve found a way to form genuine connections and true friendships with incredible women across the globe.

Setting up one or two video calls each week with women who inspire and motivate me (and vice versa) is the perfect way to boost social connection and engage in powerful human conversations.

And human conversation is the key to successful sales according to my good friend Jules White, a British sales coach, motivational TEDx speaker, author of Live It, Love It, Sell It and podcast host of The Human Conversation. (She’s a busy girl!)

In her book, Jules talks about the role of empathy in sales conversations and how to create strong relationships built on integrity:

‘The beauty of relationships is they last longer than a single transaction, so by conducting yourself with integrity and empathy rather than focusing on ‘winning’ you’re likely to generate future business. Your client will come back to you when they need you, and they’ll recommend you to others. That’s the real win. This is human selling and human connection.’

I love Jules’ approach but I’m also acutely aware that many women will shy away from creating these deep connections because they feel threatened by other women. 

Why is that?

Some might say it’s a link back to ancestral times such as the Salem witch trials when women were forced to expose other women as witches in order to protect themselves and their families. Others might say it’s just in our biological nature or that it’s simply learned habits from the culture we live in today.

But…

Every week I hear stories in the online space of women copying other women’s work, branding, images or words, women tearing others down or using people to get to the top. Not only is it stressful for those incredible, hard-working women who’ve worked so hard to elevate their small business into the online space to help others, but it’s very sad for those women who believe that using and abusing really is the only way to get what they want. (Hint: It’s not!)

When women support each other, incredible things happen.

Yesterday, I had a deep conversation with Georgia Varjas, a motivational speaker, writer and mentor living in Spain, about why women feel threatened by other women. We covered all sorts of angles from confidence and insecurities to labelling and judgment. Georgia reminded me of a quote she used during her amazing talk at Helen Packham’s Entrepreneurial Leaders Live event in Brighton in June:

The tongue has no bones, yet it is strong enough to break a heart.’ (Anon)

Georgia very generously invited me into her creative process and book writing journey and shared her ideas for the theme, chapters and messages within and from our conversation we both went away feeling inspired, motivated and filled with creativity.

When you open up and allow other women into your life and feel confident and secure in who you are, then amazing things really do happen.

In addition to these social connections and genuine friendships being so powerful when it comes to raising your profile and supporting your business passions in the online space, it’s important to remember that relationships are a form of self-love and nourishment and have a profound impact on our health.

Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, says, ‘The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health … Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.’

The message I’m sharing with you today is that building relationships on a solid foundation of integrity, kindness and love is vitally important for our health and our businesses.

I know that I couldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of so many incredible women. And I’m so grateful to each and every one of them.

Are you taking the time to build relationships?

I’d love to know…

Lorraine xx

If you’re interested in anything or anyone I’ve mentioned above, here are the links:

Live It Love It, Sell It – book by Jules White

Jules White – Facebook group- ‘Live It Love It Sell It with Jules White’

Georgia Varjas ‘Slipping and Sliding on the Glass Ceiling’ – live talk from Entrepreneurial Leaders Live, June 2018

Georgia Varjas – Facebook Page ‘Step Up and Stand Out’

Helen Packham, leadership & Business Coach, TEDx speaker and creator of Entrepreneurial Leaders Live events

The Harvard Study of Adult Development

How do you consume social media?

In the last twenty years our lifestyle habits have changed beyond recognition. Gone are the days of large bulky television sets with metal aerials and manual buttons or chatting to your friends after school in a cold hallway with a bulky telephone and stretchy, coiled cable twirled around your fingers!

Instead, we stream music and movies via cloud services and communicate via video and photo messaging apps on tiny devices more powerful than we ever imagined possible.

While the enormous benefits of technology continue to enhance our modern lives and make communication instant and effortless, there is a darker side that can swallow our souls and drain our creativity, leaving us feeling empty and more alone than ever.

While I was in England recently, I did a little bit of research into people’s social media habits on public transport. (Ok, yes, I was a little bit nosey!) It happened purely by chance as I was sat behind a young girl on a bus. I noticed in just a few seconds that every picture that came up on her Instagram feed was of young, glamorous women, many in semi-naked, sexual poses and all wearing a lot of make up and sporting the essential pout. As the mother of teenage daughters, I instantly felt a sense of sadness that so many young women need to feel validated by portraying themselves in this way. Their self-esteem is boosted with Likes and Followers – but, just like an Instagram post, this feeling of elation is short lived.

It was this experience that led me to ask the question:

How do you consume social media?

If I’m totally honest, I think that if I was a young woman today, I’d probably consume social media in exactly the same way. In my late teens I was confident yet insecure, dressed for sex appeal but hated parts of my body. With the benefit of hindsight I can see how my behaviour, lifestyle, actions and beliefs all stemmed from that insecurity.

If you’re a woman over about 35, you’ll probably feel lucky that you grew up in an era pre-social media, where you weren’t bombarded with unrealistic images every few seconds; an era where you just simply hung out in pubs and clubs with your friends and chatted to people face to face.

But back to the question… how do you consume social media?

For many millions of people, their smartphone is the first thing they look at in the morning and the last thing they look at before bed. Couples and families are messaging each other from different parts of the house (or even next to each other in bed!) and commuters are plugged into their devices while shoppers walk down the high street sending text messages. Even drivers risk their lives using mobile phones while they’re on the road (if that’s you, please stop!).

I think it’s the word CONSUME that’s important here. We live in a consumer-led world where almost everything is available 24/7. We’ve become impatient, greedy, needy and always searching for the next fix.

When we consume constantly, we aren’t giving ourselves the chance to think and form our own opinions; we simply regurgitate what we’ve heard, read or seen.

If you stop consuming, you give yourself the opportunity to create; to be innovative, adventurous and excited.

When I made the decision to stop watching the news, reading newspapers and mindlessly consuming junk TV, something amazing happened…

My creativity skyrocketed!

Suddenly I could hear my inner voice and felt more aligned to my core truth and values.

I rediscovered all the things that fuelled my creativity as a child. I realised I had a whole unique set of gifts and talents that I’d never used before or had kept locked away for years.

I actively sought out the things, places and people that made me happy and in doing so, I became happier and happier. The need for instant gratification on social media waned as did the desire to watch mainstream television.

As a teenager, if I’d missed out on watching the programme that everyone was talking about I’d have felt left out and different. But now, I revel in the fact that I create the life that I want to live. I don’t mind being different because what I’m doing lights me up.

If you dream of living a different life, start by looking at how you consume social media and mainstream television, radio and press.

  • Do you use social media for more than 2-3 hours a day?
  • If you use social media for business, do you have a specific boundary between creating content and consuming? (FYI: Action taking helps you grow your business, not simply consuming more and more content.)
  • Do you watch television simply because it’s there and because you always have done?
  • How do you feel about switching your phone apps and notifications off for a day?
  • Do you charge your phone or other devices in the bedroom and use them when you wake up and before you sleep?

Switching your lifestyle is not something most people can do overnight, however, it is possible to make one switch at a time until you get to a point where you feel that your creative mojo is back in the building!

  • If you’re a sensitive empath, cutting out news bulletins and papers with horrific headlines from your life will make a massive difference to your energy levels. (I never realised how much I was affected my whole life until I stopped for 6 weeks. Even now I can still remember major news events of the 1980s that have stuck with me for life.)
  • Cutting down on blue screen usage before bed improves your sleep pattern and relaxation – so stop using your laptop or phone an hour before bed (at least) and charge it outside the bedroom if possible.
  • Switch an hour of evening television for an hour of your favourite creative or sporty activity. Or go for a walk, meet friends, do some gardening or declutter a cupboard in the house.
  • Set yourself time limits for scrolling social media or answering emails. As soon as you realise that you’re deep inside a video loop of cute kittens, kitchen gadgets or random people doing silly pranks, it’s time to step away from the phone!
  • Call friends and family instead of using messaging apps. It gives you time to focus your love and energy on that one person instead of multi tasking between tabs. Wouldn’t you rather feel special too?
  • Have a ban on smart phones at the dinner table – kids AND parents! Talk to each other….

If you’ve been feeling like you need to boost your creativity, energy and happiness, then maybe today is the day to ask yourself the question:

How do I consume social media?

Lorraine xx