I’m sure I’m not being too radical when I say that all of us have a desire for meaningful relationships in our lives – relationships that allow us to connect with others on a deep and authentic level.
The irony of it, though, is that we live in a world in which we pass up on that opportunity all the time – almost without thinking about it.
Many of us have developed a sort of shorthand that we use to discount people before we have even engaged with them.
White, privileged male.
We are quite happy to take what is, at most, one aspect of a person’s identity, and to use that to justify our decision not to engage or connect with them.
This sort of dismissive labelling, if you like, is what the following video ad from Heineken is all about – and, as you will see, it’s a great starting point for thinking about how we go about connecting and finding something in common with people, whoever they happen to be.
Here’s what I think we should take away from it all for our own lives:
1. We connect through shared experience
Notice how all the tasks the participants complete in the course of the ad are built around fostering a sense of shared experience. First, they have to assemble some flatpack furniture together (a shared activity), and then they each answer a basic question, “What is it like to be you?” (shared human experience). As a result, they are able to establish a real sense of connection in a remarkably short space of time. As one of the participants comments: “We know each other better than people who’ve known each other for 10 minutes should.” This is the power of shared experience.
It makes sense, therefore, that if you are trying to connect with somebody, you should begin by doing an activity where you have to work together with that person, and engage and communicate with them in the process. Share something meaningful about your experience of life, and encourage the other person to share something meaningful in return.
2. We are all more similar than we think
We like to think that we are all very different, but the truth is that, at a fundamental level, we are all remarkably alike. As the video suggests, people may seem very different on the outside, but they are still capable of making a connection, whoever they are.
All of us have desires and aspirations, pain and troubles. True connection is achieved when we discover that shared desire or, just as powerfully, that shared pain, and see past a person’s outer shell.
So if you’re looking to find something in common with somebody, no matter who that person is, I would urge you to always be looking beneath the surface. The best of things might come in surprising packages.
And that, really, is the nub of it gentlemen. I don’t care who you are, what you believe, or where you come from. If you’re committed to thinking critically and living the best life you can – well, then I have something in common with you. I really hope this helps you be open to finding meaningful connection in your life whomever you meet!