Our communities are filled with familiar faces, but how often do we try to connect with those faces?

We are all multifaceted beings with a wide range of interests, knowledge, and emotions. When we relate to someone, and realize that we both have a similar taste in music or like to ski, those common interests form a connection between us. This connection or bond lets knowledge and information flow more freely and helps deepen our relationship. We learn from each other, tell each other stories, ask each other questions, or make requests. The time we spend together connecting doesn’t only teach us about the person we’re speaking to, but it also teaches us about ourselves.

When we first meet someone, we are our “best self” – the self that is funny, charismatic, and patient but also the self that shows our best side, hiding our insecurities and shortcomings. Our “whole self,” the self that’s really who we are fully with our present flaws, fears and our past successes and failures, the self that is vulnerable, is usually only seen by our close friends and family. But true, deep, and strong connections begin when we arrive with our whole selves, ready to learn about others, and how we connect to them and ourselves in the process. Having more connections with someone or within a group also means we know more about them and understand their personalities better, building trust and a stronger relationship.

Our communities are abuzz with activity but also a constant swaying, pushing and pulling, from one idea or point of view to another, and the people within them help to expand our sphere of being by adding to it and changing our minds. It’s a constant negotiation of knowledge and emotions, and sometimes a tangle that needs to be undone. The stronger and more plentiful these strings are and the more facets that connect us, the better we will be able to understand each other, respect our whole selves, and resolve conflict. So when we’re working in community, together with others, it’s about getting to know and understanding them, our mutual relationship, how we’re connected, what’s driving the both of us, in addition to learning and understanding ourselves. Who are we? How do we fit in? What can we contribute? How are we relating to our fellow community members? What am asked to do and what can I offer? These are some of the questions that might come up.