Opening Doors of Connection

By Natalie Irons
Associate Director of Instructional Coaching, UCLA Center X

An alternate view of Halloween as a holiday overly focused on candy and commercialism was noted this week by Melissa Kirsch of the New York Times. She writes, “On Halloween we have a script for deliberate connection: I knock on the door, you answer the door, we connect in real time.” Likewise, as Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) nears, a celebration that reunites the living and the dead, the opportunity to connect with people near to us, as well as, to the spirits of the people of our past gives us a wider sense of community. Looking beyond the ghoulish gluttony and towards the joy of being surrounded by all the distinct ways people show their humanity might remind us that everyone of us is doing the best they can with the emotional, cognitive and physical capacities they have at the time.

Think about your own community celebrations and ways to connect. We laugh, we cry, we listen, we share. All of our interactions are attempts to be in sync with one another. It’s rapport; the non-verbal and verbal ways we mirror in the moment with the people around us. It’s what makes us human. I recently heard from a coach and mentor that one can be in rapport with oneself. It’s an interesting concept, to be mirroring with yourself — without being arrogant, vain or narcissistic, of course! The idea is to know yourself, being conscious of your needs, ways of being, and ways of doing so that you can truly connect with another person in an authentic and honest way. When you become that aware, you just might find that you are opening the door of someone who is knocking, looking for the ‘treat’ of connection.

What are the ways you show up for people? What are your verbal and non-verbal cues in showing up? How do you keep your own needs contained to hold a space for someone else? Who might people around you need you to be?