It’s Day 6 of the latest Tenner Week Challenge, and today’s activity is to play some ‘Connect Five‘. It’s all about trying different ways to connect more deeply with others.
Some researchers think the quality of our connections with other people has more impact upon our wellbeing than the quantity of our relationships.
Having one or two people you can really, really talk with can be far more beneficial than having thousands of social media connections, or a couple of hundred people you superficially text or WhatsApp with.
With the non-stop pace of modern life, and the way many of us use/overuse our smartphones, it’s easy to slip into communicating styles that may not be serving us well. That’s why we’re going to be giving ourselves a few reminders to be fully present and connect better today.
How to go about a Connect Five day
You don’t need to launch into a heart-to-heart with a complete stranger, don’t worry. Just make a low-key effort on five occasions to connect better with the people around you today.
You can do some of these this during one interaction with one person if you want to, it doesn’t have to be with five different people. Some of the small ideas fit together.
A few prompts to get you thinking:
- Say thanks to somebody, and let them know you appreciate their help or kindness (from the cashier in the supermarket to a spouse).
- Ask someone you know fairly well how they are, or how their day or week has been.
- Talk with someone about shared hobbies or interests you know you both have.
- Listen fully when someone is talking, and make a reasonable amount of eye contact (only as much you feel comfortable with; you don’t have to stare intensely at them).
- Pay someone a genuine compliment.
- Ask an open ended question during a conversation – anything that doesn’t have a yes/no/simple fact answer (for example, ‘what would you do if you won the lottery?’ or ‘how would you improve that situation?’)
- Connect over food: have a meal at the table, with your phones switched off.
- Have a chat on the sofa, without the TV blaring (or go out for coffee).
- Make time for quality time: tell a friend or loved one you’d like to catch up, and agree a time and a place.
- If you live with your partner, ask them out on a casual date.
- Reconnect with an old friend you haven’t seen for a while, with a text or brief email (if they respond positively you might plan to meet up or do a video chat).
- If someone you’re close to tells you something serious, ask them how they feel about it (try not to jump straight into problem solving mode).
- Make future plans with a loved one or close friend – create things to look forward to.
- Have a household art, craft or baking session together – have fun and be creative.
You’re bound to have lots more ideas of your own, once you get going.
What about the people around me when I try my ‘Connect Five’?
Remember that you cannot guarantee a positive response from everyone today. You have to respect their boundaries. Not everyone will want to, or be able to, respond in kind, and we all communicate and navigate our relationships in different ways.
You can only focus on your own personal efforts, or what you give out. Perhaps the best way to look at this is as an experiment – try it out, and see what happens.
You may feel that some actions work better for you than others, so feel free to drop anything that doesn’t work and do more of what feels natural.
If you have any successes today, you might like to try more of the same sorts of things in the coming days and weeks. Or try some of the simple relationship tips from Mental Health Foundation.
More useful resources
- The Tenner Week Challenge rules
- 12 tips for a successful Tenner Week
- The ‘Boost Your Mood’ Tenner Week schedule
I’m out on a lunch date today, and will make sure that I turn off my phone and have a proper conversation. I’ll also be checking my diary and making plans with people over the weekend.
What are you going to try today to Connect Five? Something low-key? Connecting, or reconnecting?
By the way, if you’d like a free printable spending diary to give your Tenner Week budgeting challenge an even bigger boost, just fill in the form below.