One of the questions we hear a lot as people start to understand and embrace using the Connection Codes is: How do I connect with people who are not Connection Coders?
It can be challenging to connect with people who do not communicate as we do or who resist emotion instead of processing it!
Here are three ways we can connect with others, both Connection Coders and non-Connection Coders alike:
1. Use the Oooo with anyone and everyone, all the time. People are not used to being Ooooed. People are used to being cheered up, argued with or in some way punished for their choices, opinions and emotions. Become an expert Ooooer. Chances are your Oooos will garner curiosity and facilitate healing and connection, no matter who it is you are Ooooing. If it is a non-Connection Coder, they may not know to return the favor. Oooo them anyway. And if it is a close friend or relative, ask them to Oooo you too.
You: How was your Christmas?
Coworker: Terrible. The kids fought like crazy and my sister decided not to visit because of covid. I’m just glad it’s over.
You: Oooo, I can see that. What happened with your sister?
Coworker: She had a baby three months ago and hasn’t really left her house since then. I haven’t seen her all year and I haven’t met my niece yet. It was just so disappointing. I really thought I would get some time with her by December.
You: Oooo, yeah, I totally get the disappointment.
2. Go ahead and say your emotion, even if it feels weird. Keep it simple and straightforward, especially if it is not someone with whom you are close. Ideally an interaction that mentions emotion will take place in person or over the phone or Zoom so that the other person can see your facial expressions or at least hear the tones and inflections of your voice. Connection is more likely to happen this way. But even interactions via text, email, messaging or social media can be improved if emotion is expressed with vulnerability and humility. The more we use emotion words in our day to day communication, the more normal and comfortable it will become for us and those around us, and the more readily the emotion will stay processed.
Acquaintance: Will you be at the meeting tonight?
You: Oh man, guilt and sadness. I can’t be at the meeting this week because of my kids’ soccer practices.
Classmate: Are you ready for our algebra exam tomorrow?
You: Ugh, I don’t know, I have a lot of fear about it. I have studied a lot but I keep getting hit with fear that I won’t do well and it will pull my grade down.
Great Aunt Mildred: Well, you are looking awfully haggard today. Are you not sleeping much these days?
You: Wow, hurt and shame, Aunt Mildred. I am sleeping fine. Better than usual, in fact.
Neighbor: I like the trees you guys planted last month!
You: Thank you! They bring me a lot of joy!
3. Create and insist on healthy boundaries. Sometimes this will just involve a brief conversation about what you feel and what you need. Other times, it will mean letting go of a relationship. Some people will embrace the Connection Codes if you share these ideas with them and will respond well when you express emotion and need. Some will not. It can be painful when someone does not, especially if it someone with whom we are close or who we have to interact with regularly. We are not responsible for their choice and we cannot control their response. We are responsible for ourselves though- for communicating what we feel and what we need, and for how we respond when other people communicate what they feel and what they need.
You: Hello dear friends and family! This year I need to prioritize my mental health and my relationships with my husband and children. One way I will be doing this is by plugging in my phone and muting notifications after 6pm. If you need me and it is an emergency please call me, I will still have my ringer on. Otherwise, I will check my notifications in the morning and reply then. Love you all!
It would be amazing if everyone we interacted with understood and embraced the Connection Codes. What a relief it would be to always be Ooooed, to have our needs met, our boundaries respected and to have everyone communicate their emotions and needs with vulnerability. Maybe someday this will be our reality. I hope so. Until then, no matter what:
Become an expert Ooooer.
Become an expert at saying what you feel and what you need.
Become an expert at creating and protecting healthy boundaries.
And lastly, find and befriend at least one other Connection Coder who will follow your energy, respect your boundaries, make space for your needs and communicate their own emotion and needs with authenticity and vulnerability. Cultivate that relationship. We all need that one person in our corner. This year, may it be so.