What does research say about how we “click” with someone?

soul-mates-squareYou just can’t put your finger on it, but you just… “click.”

The book Click: The Forces Behind How We Fully Engage with People, Work, and Everything We Do discusses a few of the most common causes of connection like proximity and similarity but their emphasis on vulnerability is quite striking.

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable helps the other person to trust you, precisely because you are putting yourself at emotional, psychological, or physical risk. In doing so, other people reciprocate by being more open and vulnerable themselves. When both of you let your guard down, it helps to lay the groundwork for a faster, closer personal connection. When you both make yourselves vulnerable from the outset and are candid in revealing who you are and how you think and feel, you create an environment that fosters the kind of openness that can lead to an instant connection — that click.

Vulnerability is also the element of clicking you have the most control over and can therefore use to improve how often and how deeply you connect with others.

There’s a hierarchy of vulnerability in the types of communication we have, each one being more open and more likely to lead to a solid connection:

  • Phatic: These statements have no emotional content: “What are you doing?”
  • Factual: These share information, maybe personal information, but no strong opinions or emotions are involved: “I live in Orange County.”
  • Evaluative: These statements show opinions, but they’re not core beliefs: “That cafe has amazing lattes.”
  • Gut-level: The first three are thought-oriented, while gut-level communication is emotionally based. It’s personal, and says something deeper about who you are: “I’m sad that you’re not here.”
  • Peak: Peak statements share your innermost feelings and convey the most emotionally vulnerability. These are “…feelings that are deeply revealing and carry the most risk in terms how the other person will respond,” : “I guess at heart I’m terrified I’m going to lose you.” 

To sum it up, we can engender magical connections simply by elevating the language we use from the phatic to the peak level.  

Bonus: Interestingly, one of the most popular TED talks of all time is Brené Brown’s presentation on vulnerability.

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