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The Power Of Togetherness: 3 Practices To Deepen Connections

We live in a world of abundant information. A quick search online, and you might think you know all about someone. But this type of knowing is shallow and unrooted. Truly knowing someone for who they are can only be done through the act of togetherness.

If you could steal Steven Spielberg’s phone (famous movie Director for the non-movie fans) and gain access to his contact list, would that empower you to make a movie?
This is a thought from Seth Godin that I frequently entertain. Afterall, in that list would be everyone you need to create a brilliant blockbuster, right? But of course, those contacts alone are worthless.

When it comes to Steven, those contacts are undergirded by deep reputation and connection. The power is not in the number, but in the effort. It’s in the chemistry and the trust that has developed over time.  In today’s world, to steal a contact list isn’t that difficult. For a nominal fee you can buy a following.  But people don’t connect with you because you are on their list – they connect because you have connected.  

Shallow Reputation Vs. Deep Connection

In our modern world, many relationships suffer from shallow reputation. We might feel acquainted, but when you scratch beneath the surface you don’t know much about each other.

It’s not about what you know. But how you got to know what you know – that’s what counts. Anyone can learn shallow information about each other – all you need to do is Facebook a person. But deep reputation is founded on time, discovery, togetherness, and those messy moments of being in the trenches together. 

Shallow reputation can make us think we know someone. For example, I might see the rating of my approaching UBER driver and mistakenly assume trust. But that’s shallow understanding. Real trust is so much more.

In Stephen Covey’s book, The 8th Habit, a theme runs throughout his pages which conveys an uncomfortable thought. He says, ‘The majority of people in the workplace feel misunderstood. They don’t have voice.’

For a person to have voice, someone must first lend them their ears. Ears that listen and pay attention. We think we understand each other; but how much of it is built on assumptions and not tested?

This thought comes out powerfully in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Talking to Strangers. Gladwell says, “We think we can transform the stranger, without cost or sacrifice, into the familiar and the known, and we can’t.”

What is the cost and sacrifice? It’s the time we give to understand another. To listen. To suspend judgement, being humble and curious together. You don’t get this by stealing a name. You get this because you are serious about quality relationships. 

How does this help us? Well, to start with, we need to recognise that when people resist us, or don’t respond to our phone call, it might not mean that they are ‘bad’ people or that there’s something wrong with you. It might be telling you that this connection requires investment. And that relationships, no matter how much our world changes, still hinge on age old principles of togetherness. 

The Power Of Togetherness: 3 Practices To Deepen Connections

The Three Practices of TOGETHENESS

The practice of silent presence

Some of the best relationships we have are those that welcome quiet togetherness. This somewhat old and awkward quote from Thoreau highlights this. He says, 

‘In human [interaction], the tragedy begins not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood.’ 

Today we would probably use different words, but Thoreau’s point lands. I’m sure we’ve all experienced those moments of social silence. Automatically, we wonder if something is wrong and sense discomfort.  Afterall, a common belief is that talk means progress. But there’s something beautiful about a mutual comfort in the absence of words. There is no expectation of ‘doing’ or ‘proving’ anything. And we don’t need to talk to be seen. Only simple acceptance and appreciation for presence.

Now, silent togetherness is not found in two people who are quietly on their phones together. Quiet togetherness revels in the other persons presence. Where we are fully engaged, with gratitude for the bond that exists which isn’t complicated by the need to speak.

It’s quite hard to explain, but I think you know the kind of connection I’m describing. There is an energy and wholeness found in this silent togetherness. It’s like listening to a piece of music and appreciating the subtleties rather than singing the song. 

If this is something you struggle to find ease in, start practicing it with those you feel most connected to. For a few minutes, simply be present. Sense the power of your togetherness without distracting it through words. You might even try this in a team meeting, allowing the silence to create the awareness of US. Sure, your team might feel uncomfortable at first. But doing this highlights a most powerful principle: we speak best not through our mouths, but through our non-verbal appreciation for each other. 

The practice of empowering others

Sometimes we do need to be rescued. But most often, what we need is not answers that solve our situations. We need attentiveness that gives permission for expression. Listen to these two quotes from the mouths of epic wise men. 

“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”  


– Henry Nouwen  


“Beginner’s mind is a posture of eagerness, of spiritual hunger. This is a rare feeling in today’s treacherously seductive culture however, because it is so immediately satisfying it is hard to remain spiritually hungry. We give answers too quickly, take away pain too easily, and too quickly stimulate.”

– Richard Rohr

Both of these quotes deserve to be pondered; there is so much within them. Sometimes we think friendship is about solving, fixing, and saving others. But true friendship is found in a place of togetherness, where each enables the other’s expression.

How many friends do you have that sit in silent observance of your sometimes confused thoughts? Who seek not to correct nor redirect, but simply support you in your growth journey. Is this becoming a lost art? When we regain this art, we advocate connection. 

The practice of embracing disagreement

I know it sounds strange and contradictive. But the reality is that deep friendships are the ones that master the art of disagreement. For so many years, I saw conflict as something to avoid. After all, Harmony is often thought to be found in shared opinions. But I don’t think that’s true. Harmony is found when you care so much about another, that you’re willing to challenge them to take things deeper. Here are a couple of quick thoughts to share context: 

  • My ideas don’t improve because you agree with them. My ideas improve because you challenge me to deeper my levels of thinking.
  • When we care and respect each other, we enable the free flow of information. This does not limit voice. It enhances voice. More voice means more perspective, which in turn means more disagreeableness. Great relationships see this as energy for change and progress, not something to avoid. 
  • Great relationships are less about ‘judged and be judged’ and more about ‘learn and enable learning.’ 

This is why therapy can never replace friendship. In true friendship, both sides add value by sharpening each other through active engagement. Disagreeableness without care may lead to separation. But when it’s infused with love and consideration it energizes, challenges, and fosters growth.

The Power Of Togetherness: 3 Practices To Deepen Connections

R.E.A.C.H. - The Art of Togetherness

We have spoke about many elements of connection today. There is much to digest. A lovely way to summarise it all is to think of it in the acronym of R.E.A.C.H :

R – Relationships built on deep reputation and connection: The power of connection lies not in the number of contacts we have, but in the effort, chemistry, and trust that develops over time. 

 

E – Ears to listen and eyes to see: True understanding and trust are built when we invest time and effort. Getting to know others deeply, suspending judgment, and being humble in our interactions.

 

A – Absence of words, presence of minds: Practice the art of silent presence, where the relationship thrives on being fully aware of the other person and appreciating their presence without the need for constant talking.

 

C – Careful not to rescue, but to empower: Instead of rushing to provide answers and solutions, embrace the art of attentiveness. Give others the permission for expression, simply offering support on their journey of growth. 

 

H – Harmony through embracing disagreement: Embrace the concept that deep friendships are built on challenging each other to deeper levels of thinking; enabling more perspective, and energizing change and progress.

In essence, R.E.A.C.H. embodies the principles of building meaningful relationships based on trust, understanding, and authentic togetherness.

There are many other factors that foster deep connection, but these three practices really speak to me.  They remind me of how technology can never replace presence. Sometimes this presence is silent, sometimes it’s the observance of another’s expression. And sometimes it’s the expression of disagreeableness. All of these are needed to build true, lasting, beautiful togetherness. 

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