August 14, 2015 – by Salem Samhoud, Freek Grootenboer, Nur Hamurcu &samhoud consultancy
We have seen that connection with yourself can be explained as an investment in self-knowledge and self-development. After all, a relationship between two individuals depends on the individuals who carry the relationship. The next step that has to be taken, however, concerns the connection of the individual with another individual. From a basis of self-knowledge, which stated simply means that you know more or less what you have to offer and what expectations and desires you have, you can enter into connections with other people. Therefore, it will come as no surprise to learn that there is a strong correlation between connection with yourself and the degree of connection with others.
A strong connection with yourself is a precondition for a strong connection with others. When you know and understand yourself well, you have a better idea of what you want and can expect of others, and of how you react in certain situations. But what does it mean to be connected with others?
How do you connect with others?
There are three other activities in addition to connection with yourself that are necessary to be able to form a high quality connection with another person: (1) taking an interest, (2) being open and (3) being critical and honest. We can see that these conditions correspond to the requirements for a good connection with yourself. These same principles are now applied in an inter-subjective relationship: that are not only applicable to yourself but also to the other.
Taking an interest
Taking an interest in someone means you are curious about them. You want to know what motivates the other, what goes on inside of them. At the same time, interest refers to a certain importance that you place in someone. It is more than mere curiosity, more than ‘wanting to know for knowing sake’. When you are genuinely interested in something or someone that also means you assign a certain value to that which interests you. You are not only interested in it; you have an interest in it. In a connection between two individuals, it is essential that those individuals have an interest in one another. After all, a qualitative relationship means that you share and communicate things with each other. The first prerequisite for this is a genuine interest, where valuing (appreciating) the other is the central concern.
Interest alone is not enough. The relationship that arises out of mutual interest must also be deepened and strengthened. So be open to one another. To truly get to know one another, it is necessary to reveal your true personality to the other, as it were. In this way the other gets to know you better and better, and he or she also acquires an insight into your ‘self’. Here again we see the link with connection with yourself. If you are well connected with yourself, you will be more able to connect with others. The more understanding we have of our own personalities, the better we will be able to present them to each other (by means of an open process). Knowledge of one’s own of each other’s personalities means that more account can be taken of feelings, wishes and preferences, so creating a better bond. Openness implies a certain vulnerability. Opening yourself up to the other is always accompanied by a degree of risk. After all, you can never be sure if the trust you place in someone will be betrayed. However, the stronger the connection, the greater the trust will be. It is a continuous process that develops step by step.
Being critical and honest
Having a connection with someone is not the same as having a subservient or servile attitude. Wanting the best for the other or for the relationship does not mean that you must fulfil all the demands and wishes of the other, like a sort of butler. To enable someone to flourish, it is also necessary that there is a certain resistance. To truly develop yourself, it is important to occasionally be confronted or challenged with particular issues. If this were not the case, then a connection would merely consist of a (re-) endorsement of the other. Nietzsche observes that a true friend is a friend who dares to be an enemy. Only in relation to such an individual will you be able to bring out the best in yourself. The confrontational, critical attitude represents a fundamental acknowledgement of the other as a total person. If we think back to the principle of openness as a readiness to open oneself to the other, then this critical honesty stands for the actual confrontation of the other with ideas and opinions that are new to him or her. Honesty then concerns the good intentions that should always underpin this confrontational attitude.
There are various gradations of connection. It is important to realise that there are many levels of connection: from vague acquaintance to good colleague, from friend to lover. There are an infinite number of variations. What we are dealing with here is the basis of these special relationships and the way in which you – if you want to – could strengthen and improve them. The degree of connection must be determined by everyone for themselves.
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This is the second article in the &samhoud inspiration series: “The power of the blue ball”
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